Maker Faire: Andy Graham’s Handmade Instruments

Handmade music has been a big component of Maker Faire every year. This year’s Maker Faire Bay Area, the world’s largest DIY festival, will take place at the San Mateo Fairgrounds on May 22nd and 23rd. And one of the musical makers present will be Andy Graham. The amazing thing about handmade music is that these makers are not constrained by instruments that already exist — they invent and craft their own, producing some genuinely original sounds. Andy Graham is no exception. He took some time to answer a handful question for us and here are the pearls of wisdom he has to offer.
1. Tell us about the project you’re bringing to Maker Faire.
Well, the project I’m bringing to Maker Faire is actually two-fold: The first part is my unusual approach to performing live through simultaneous didgeridoo and drum playing. This was something that really happened by accident. In 1996, when I was still learning to play the didge, I was also playing drums in a world-music band. I decided I really wanted to incorporate this new instrument into the band’s music. The problem was that I was stuck behind a set of drums and playing the didgeridoo requires that the instrument, a large, heavy tree branch, be supported somehow.
With this in mind, I invented this didgeridoo rack-mounting system [shown above] to hold 3 didgeridoos right next to my head so I could occasionally play while not playing the drums. This system worked out great… while the band lasted, anyway. Due to several personality issues between 2 band members, the project quickly dissolved.
Finding myself bandless with this didgeridoo drumkit (, I decided to try out the crazy idea of playing didge and drums at the same time. After many hours of practice, I managed to somewhat pull it off. The best part was that the combination of the two (didge and drums) sounded good no matter what patterns I came up with. It was nice making music without depending on a band. I decided to try this solo at a local coffee shop and it went over better than I had hoped. I have been developing the act ever since.

Read the rest of the interview over on our sister site And remember, you can still get discounted tickets until May 12. For all the information you need, head over to the Maker Faire website.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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