NEXUS has always been interested in creating their own instruments and using “found” instruments. At NEXUS concerts perhaps the most noticeable are Garry Kvistad’s sound sculptures. Today I stumbled on Oddmusic.com. Along with the Sea Organ built in Croatia in 2005, and the Symphonic House that is one large musical instrument, I made some fabulous percussive finds. As the site description says, “Whether you play stalagmites in a cave, bow telegraph wires across the Nullarbor Plain, twist electrons by circuit bending, call whales on a Waterphone, or just love listening, this site is for you.” Check out these discoveries:
Dennis Havlena’s HANK drum (a combination of Hang and Tank) made from a propane tank. Dennis was inspired by Felle Vega’s helium-tank Tambiro and the Swiss-made Hang drum.
Hans Reichel’s elegant Daxophone of the friction idiophone category. When played percussively it “propagates sound in the same way a ruler halfway off a table does.”
John Pascuzzi’s HAPI drum (Hand Activated Percussion Instrument). (John also runs the Oddmusic website).
Robin Armstrong’s Celestial Harp, a sound sculpture that plays your horoscope. Quite large, the musician must move around it. There is no beginning or end to it. The strings can be hammered, plucked, strummed, or played with a slide; it is both a stringed instrument and a percussion instrument. It is designed so that several people can play it at the same time.
The Bikelophone created for The Lyle and Sparkleface Band. The Bikelophone’s current configuration uses scrap wood and metal, metal bowls, telephone bells, a mechanical foot pedal and a touch sensitive tone generator.
Curtis Settino’s Aquaggaswack made of pot lids.
The Clackamore – a cross between a jaw harp and spoons.
Barry Hall’s Didjibodhrán, an Irish frame drum with a goatskin head and a ceramic drum frame that is a circular didjeridu. When blowing into it, the drum head vibrates sympathetically, “creating some eerie pseudo-reverberation effects”.
Lirio Salvador’s Planet Stainless. Using “found objects”, it is an improvised amplifier made from stainless steel kitchenware that creates natural vibrating effects.
Bob Collier’s inch-and-a-half wide playable thumb piano made from a tiny Excedrin tin.
Neil Feather‘s Nondo, a large steel sheet strung lengthwise with music wire to create a shallow “U” curve, most often played with a heavy steel rod rolling on top of the strings. “Striking the middle of the rolling rod with a soft mallet produces a bright bell sound that immediately dissolves into a lush, unfurling choral sound, one rich with phase-shifting harmonics.”
Glenn Weyant’s Kestrel 920 that produces sound “amplified and processed from steel, wood, iron and trans-oceanic radio signals”, and exploits the vibrations “created through percussive blows, bowing, electromagnetic fields and assorted manipulation.”
Leah Mann’s and Ela Lamblin‘s Rumitone, a tubular bell, sit-and-spin sculpture. As it turns, it can be played on different parts with mallets, bows, or the musician’s breath. The central metal platform is big enough for two dancers. As it spins, the metal tubes that were standing upright open outward like flower petals.
Mann and Lamblin also created Singing Stones, 100 river rocks suspended by music wire from a wing-shaped sound box and hanging in a steep arch. The strings (vibrating longitudinally) release their music when stroked and tugged by performers wearing rosin-covered gloves. (This use of stones puts me in mind of the Soundstreams Cool Drummings Festival last year in which NEXUS participated. Mexico’s Tambuco played Stone Song, Stone Dance by Paul Barker – wherever they perform the piece, Tambuco uses stones from that locale, thus each locale gives a unique sound to the piece).
Richard A Waters’ Trongos, a set of 3 joined water drums, tuned by adding and subtracting water. The water in the central drum is activated by moving the legs, “creating schiziosonic modulations and pre-echoes due to the different speeds of sound in air/metal/water.” Both the top heads and the bottom heads can be played.
Iner Souster’s Bowafridgeaphone that uses refrigerator grates, a bundt cake pan, metal salad bowl, and a few other odd pieces. Souster designs instruments used by the Toronto band The Fembots. Surfing over to Souster’s blog I scrolled a bit down the page and found his intriguing Underwoods Bell Stage One, that looks like odd bells attached to an ancient underwood typewriter. He has a special section on percussion that contains “Shakers, Thumb Pianos, and Things from the fridge.”
But back to Oddmusic.com, where you can find The Viennese Vegetable Orchestra (known in Europe as Das erste Wiener Gemüseorchester) performing on instruments made entirely of fresh vegetables such as celeriac bongos, turnip drums, eggplant clappers and radish marimbas. The instruments are made from scratch one hour before performance, then all ninety pounds of vegetables are cooked into a soup following the performance. .
Enjoy your explorations!