Friday, August 27, 2010

Hard Wares

Many of us that make music primarily by hitting stuff with sticks tend to spend a lot of time in hardware stores.   Necessity is the mother of invention and a lot of times we're asked to produce sounds that you just can't find at your local Music Shoppe.  So, we cut and grind metal pipes to exact pitches, salvage auto brake drums from scrapyards, or spend a Saturday afternoon selecting the perfect set of terracotta flower pots (to the consternation of the garden department staff).  It can take a little time, but it's always fun in the end to step back and see what we've created, like some kind of Mr. Wizard meets Bob Vila.  And then hit it with sticks.

After a day devoted to gathering supplies and testing my carpentry mettle I've completed setup version 1.0 for Graham Reynolds' in-progress piece.  Check it out:

Here's the rundown:
Four oak planks suspended on weather stripping, four saw blades mounted on blocks with cymbal sleeves drilled onto them, and four sink strainers hung from a rack made of PVC pipes and joints. And yes, I strung the strainers with old shoelaces for extra Eco-points®.
Sure it took all day, but it beats cutting reeds and after all it's the easy part:  Graham has to write all the music.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

speaking of saw blades...

Via Daniel Wolf.

So... two composers, a hard-core complexist and an equally hard-core experimentalist, happen to meet in the lumber department of a hardware store, waiting in line to get some plywood cut to order. The experimentalist asks the complexist why he's there. The complexist answers that he's "working on a very big piece, and I'm using so many oversize charts and graphs and tables and arrays" that he needed a piece of plywood so he could add an extension to his desk in order to accommodate all his paperwork. "Why are you here?" asked the complexist in return. The experimentalist smiled: "I like the sound of plywood going through a really big table saw."

Graham Reynolds premiere, 10/10

Composer Graham Reynolds is as Austin as Barton Springs and the Cathedral of Junk (RIP). Between playing in the ever unclassifiable Golden Arm Trio, writing music for choreographed garbage trucks, and composing tons music for dance and films--including A Scanner Darkly--he might be the busiest musician I know. Luckily, that didn't stop him from agreeing to take on a percussion solo commission project over the summer, the premiere of which will be on October 10th at Austin's own haven for misfit music the Salvage Vanguard Theater.
After a trip to Home Depot armed with some mallets and a violin bow we settled on an instrumentation of wooden planks, circular saw blades, and sink strainers. Oh, and he suggested electronics too, which was great considering my penchant for the portability of The Electroacoustic. Got a backpack full of junk and an iPod? See you at the gig.