Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Tom Nunn
Improviser / Experimental Instruments
The Bay Area new music community mourns the passing of Tom Nunn. Tom was a fixture on the new music scene and a friend to many.


Tom Nunn has designed, built and performed with original musical instruments since 1976, having received a B.Mus. and M.A. in music composition from the University of Texas at Austin and S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, and post-graduate work at U.C. San Diego. His instruments typically utilize commonly available materials, are sculptural in appearance, utilize contact microphones for amplification, and are designed specifically for improvisation with elements of ambiguity, unpredictability and nonlinearity.

Tom has designed and built over 200 instruments, representing three basic types: space plates, electroacoustic percussion boards, and skatchboxes. Space plates are metal sheets with bronze rods that are bowed; the plate is supported by inflated balloons, allowing the plate to resonate. Electroacoustic percussion boards are plywood sheets with various hardware devices attached such as nails, threaded steel rods, bronze rods, combs, etc., played with a variety of small percussion implements. Skatchboxes are cardboard boxes with objects such as washers, combs, toothpicks, bronze rod, dowel, etc. taped or glued to the exterior that are played with various modified combs. All of Tom’s instruments are amplified using contact microphones and have sculptural qualities.

Tom has performed extensively throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, as well as in other parts of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and New Zealand, both as soloist and with other musicians. Tom has performed with various groups over the years and currently works with T.D. SKATCHIT, RTD3 and GHOST IN THE HOUSE. He has appeared on a number of recordings, including his solo CD, "Identity." (2007), “T.D. Skatchit & Company” (2009) and “Skatch Migration” (2010) (all on Edgetone Records). In 1998, he completed writing and self-published WISDOM OF THE IMPULSE: ON THE NATURE OF MUSICAL FREE IMPROVISATION, a book that examines various aspects of this illusive art and presents a theoretical foundation for creative listening, analysis and discussion. Tom has also written a number of articles about the use of experimental instruments and improvisation in publications such as EXPERIMENTAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, MUSICWORKS and LEONARDO. He was an invited participant in the Sound Symposium in St. John’s Newfoundland in 1994 and has participated several times in the annual San Francisco Bay Area Festival for People and Thingamajigs. In 2007, he was one of 10 instrument inventors invited to participate in the City of Auckland’s biannual cultural festival, AK07. In 2009, he performed with RTD3 in the Improvisers Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.
Invented Instruments , at the High Zero festival September 22nd 2012 , Baltimore Maryland
CDs on which Tom Nunn appears:
Tom Nunn Burning Palms
Artist: Tom Nunn
Title: Burning Palms
Label: Garuda Records 100
Label page on this site: Garuda Records
Garuda Records 100
PKD Vortex Project Music Inspired by Phil K. Dick
Artist: PKD Vortex Project
Title: Music Inspired by Phil K. Dick
Label: Edgetone Records EDT 4003
Label page on this site: Edgetone Records
Edgetone Records EDT 4003
Masaoko, Nunn, Robair Crepuscular Music
Artist: Masaoko, Nunn, Robair
Title: Crepuscular Music
Label: Rastascan Records BRD 030
Label page on this site: Rastascan Records
Rastascan Records BRD 030
Gebbia, Robair, etc. A Night in Palermo
Artist: Gebbia, Robair, etc.
Title: A Night in Palermo
Label: Rastascan Records BRD 041
Label page on this site: Rastascan Records
Rastascan Records BRD 041
T.D. Skatchit & Company Skatch Migration
Artist: T.D. Skatchit & Company
Title: Skatch Migration
Label: Edgetone Records EDT4103
Label page on this site: Edgetone Records
Edgetone Records EDT4103
T.D. Skatchit & Company T.D. Skatchit & Company
Artist: T.D. Skatchit & Company
Title: T.D. Skatchit & Company
Label: Edgetone Records EDT4096
Label page on this site: Edgetone Records
Edgetone Records EDT4096
Tom Nunn Identity
Artist: Tom Nunn
Title: Identity
Label: Edgetone Records EDT4047
Label page on this site: Edgetone Records
Edgetone Records EDT4047
John Lane (06/07/2015)
Interview with Tom Nunn
Amar Chaudhary (02/10/2012)
Interview with Tom Nunn