Musical Electronics Library

Last updated
Musical Electronics Library
FormationNovember 2014 [1]
Type NGO, lending library
Coordinates 36°51′24″S174°45′35″E / 36.856699°S 174.759786°E / -36.856699; 174.759786 Coordinates: 36°51′24″S174°45′35″E / 36.856699°S 174.759786°E / -36.856699; 174.759786
Region served
New Zealand

The Musical Electronics Library (or MEL) is a lending library of homemade electronic musical devices in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, and is a worldwide leader in the Scavengetronica movement. [2] [3]


The library contains electrolytic capacitors, rampwave oscillators, white noise generators, light theremins, sample and holds, ring modulators, preamplifiers, pitch shifters, phasers, and mixers; mostly built inside repurposed VHS cases. [4] [5] [6] Highlights of the collection include the "electric bee motorcycle sound-maker box", a device which emulates the sound of meowing cats inside a Cats VHS box, and "Mad Max" which has been described as "Merzbow in a box". [7] [8]

MEL is run by volunteers and curated by musician and device-builder Kraus. [9] [10] The library was inspired by the work of Nicolas Collins and Bob Widlar. [11] [12] Musicians using equipment from MEL include Hermione Johnson, Kraus, Pumice, Diana Tribute, Samuel Flynn Scott, the MEL Orchestra, Piece War, Ducklingmonster, the Biscuits, Powernap, Herriot Row, and Chronic Fatigue Sindrome. [13] [14] [15]

The library has been running synthesizer-building workshops around New Zealand. [5] MEL also co-hosts an open weekly maker night with the Auckland University of Technology where projects are developed in a collaborative environment. [16]

Kraus stated in a New Zealand Listener interview that "doing any kind of community project like this for me is a political thing - of self-organisation and encouraging people to take control of their lives, instead of just being a consumer, buying something someone else has made, or some robots in China. The kind of empowerment that comes from learning a new skill is a really powerful thing." [8] He said in NZ musician magazine that he wants "to emphasise the idea of sharing and also reducing waste through re-using things and giving seemingly broken or out of date things a new purpose." [7]

The library started in Auckland and 2014 and opened a Wellington chapter in 2016. [17]

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  2. Norling, Sean. "UTR's Highlights Of 2014". Under The Radar. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
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  6. "Musical Electronics Library Inventory". myTurn. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
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  8. 1 2 Smith, Emma (11 October 2014). "Smashingly Good Time". New Zealand Listener . 245 (3883): 44–45.
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  12. "Bob Widlar". Space Surveillance Network (July 2014): 5. July 2014.
  13. "MELtastic Auckland Artists". Space Surveillance Network (July 2014): 26. July 2014.
  14. Dass, Kiran. "Nowhere Festival 2014". Radio New Zealand National . Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  15. Samuel Flynn Scott (2016-02-20). "Wellington Musical Electronics Library". Radio New Zealand National . Radio New Zealand . Retrieved 2016-02-21.
  16. "MEL & AUT Colab:Weekly Maker Nights". Space Surveillance Network (July 2014): 24. July 2014.
  17. "M-E-L Launch Party!!". Sound and Light Exploration Society. Retrieved 13 February 2016.