Warning: Children, please don’t try this at home with your Mom’s good Wok – use beans instead of pebbles!
It seems that some of the most interesting percussion sounds around the city are available from things which people throw out carelessly. Some weeks ago, I picked up an old Wok and an empty Altoid mints tin… and that’s all I needed to make this little five minute soundscape – using a superball mallet and a few small pebbles as beaters.
Scythian Chit-Chat (5:00, 5.1 MB to download, opens in a New Window)
For the main sounds of the first movement I swirled a single pebble around in the Wok – a further development of an idea I picked up of Sean O h’Uigin over two decades ago and implemented recently in Discover Your Formulas And Abandon Them. For the shorter second movement, I recorded the sound of dropping pebbles into the Wok. I derived all sounds other than the “drum” beats from these two recordings via filtering and spectrum manipulation. Can you hear little voices in the mix? That’s the single pebble and Wok sound with sophisticated resonant filtering and harmonic spectrum manipulation. People find it hard to believe, so I must do it live, some time, but I’ll need a few other electroacoustic improvisors to drone along and bridge a few gaps. Any volunteers? I am hanging on to the Wok for a while, anyway…
The “drum” beats are hits with a superball mallet on the Altoids tin, very much “enlarged” in my studio.
The title is a reference to one of the first music projects I was involved in. There is one person following this site who might possibly get it, if he remembers (Hint: it was originally in Latin, and abbreviated the way Pharmacists abbreviate the names of substances…).
As always: download it, slice and dice it and jumble it up, remix it… or, perhaps, just put it on your iPod and enjoy.
Have a great New Year!