Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spent the last couple of months developing a strategy for the Twenty Foot Man. John and I have never had such a lengthy break as this one from performing with the Man. John has been especially keen on developing a few new tuned instruments for the Man to play. I was particularly interested in the bass marimba design used by Boka Marimba when I attended a benefit concert for Haiti last week. The resonator tubes usually create an instrument too tall for normal people to play but it occurs to me this scale will work well for the Man.

I am keen on having an environment to some painting with the Man where we can take our time, experiment and not necessarily have the pressure of performance dictating the duration of painting experience. John and I agree that some smaller, content specific works would be a good place to start. We have been planning on setting up the Man in John’s backyard to do the paintings and practice puppetry manipulation.

I dragged the heart home on Valentines Day for refurbishing and programming some new rhythmic material. I included a pic of this unique remote control bivalved snare membrainaphone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I have continued technical research this week concerning constructing a small pipe organ (or instrument using similar technology). I got an interior tour of one of Joe O’Donnell’s instruments at the Unitarian First Church. Joe is both the organist and builder of this instrument. The instrument had been disassembled and placed in storage before being installed at First Church. Joe works for Bond Organs, a Portland company that builds, repairs, and restores pipe organs.
Joe has designed and built an electro-mechanical bell component that has fascinated me from my first listening. The device uses a simple random (mostly) sequence generator that sends a cycle of electric signals to electro magnet type actuators that strike a series of tuned hand bells. The speed at which the cycle runs is adjustable as is the strength at which it strikes the bells. The device provides a complex and fascinating wash of percussion, which Joe incorporates as a supplemental texture to his playing. Depending on how the cycle is set and activated the effect can be quite different.
My exchange with Joe was encouraging on many levels. One was his enthusiasm for my project in general. Another was the obvious technical abilities that Joe has as a designer and builder. Third was the ease in which his random generation of sounds can be so efficiently integrated into traditional repertoire.
I have also been enjoying the expansion of the Twenty Foot Man/Puppy Bunny rehearsal space. We have quadrupled our square footage which allows me to begin working with some of my larger instruments such as marimba and concert theremin in our weekly practice space. We have begun talking about using the space for an informal venue which would greatly facilitate performance.