Saturday, March 8, 2008

First Sessions: Webster

So March 4 we met at the Ordway with Webster for the first time for an inspirational site visit. The weather was frigid so we warmed up indoors with some games (Catnap, Telephone, and Pass It On). We got out some of the portable instruments and tried out some small group performances. Here are three bamboo xylophones that make a pleasant combination of tones no matter what. The students all showed signs of promise; listening, responding and improvising creatively.

Stamping Tubes (made from cardboard mailers and cut to proportional lengths of the Harmonic Series) are going to sound great in the outdoor space. Their sharp impulses will excite the echoes off the walls. Several groups had a chance to make melodic and rhythmic patterns together. Having much larger groups doing the same thing may lead to undifferentiated chaos sop we may develop multiples of these smaller group separated by distance.

Germs are a potential problem for people who share Balloon Bassoons, so we will need to make several of them and/or bring disinfectant wipes. These instruments need breath and a perfect angle of incidence to make the latex flap on top vibrate like a membrane, but the effect is profound; somewhere between a sick elephant, fog-bound ship, and virtuoso sax player. We can cut extra mailing tubes to length so more people have a chance to make and play these fine noisemakers.

Outdoors we refined the techniques involved in twirling Whirly Tubes or Bloogle Tubes around one's head. I turns out these instruments are harder to play in winter because your puffy coat sleeve is likely to obstruct the flow of air down the tube. It's fun (and surprisingly hard) to twirl and match the pitches with your voice at the same time.

We then went back to school and watched some Youtube videos of what other people have done with creative instruments: Stomp, Blue Man Group, the Vietnamese Dan Da lithophone, Phillippine Kulintang gongs, and the Japanese Melody Road

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