Sunday, April 20, 2008

Webster's Ensemble Takes Shape

After some heavy lifting (the 12 stones that comprise the Flintstone Gamelan weigh over 700lbs, and the car tires they rest on fill a Range Rover), we have some rocking percussion.

Mallets made from finneals with attached handles make perfect strikers. As luck would have it, the stones make a wide tonal range, some would call it a scale. They sound good together anyway.

To control the overall complexity level we will group them in three sets of four stones each; the fewer number of players may yield better rhythmic patterns and interactions.

Then we did some exercises clapping the rhythms of our first and last names. When applied to three noisy gongs we achieved some terrific cross-pulses and patterns. Vietnamese E De and Philippine Kulintang use gongs a little bit like this, and now we have our tradition.

With the paint dry on our car tires from last week, we started wrapping thm tightly with Scotch 3M sealing tape to make drums. This proved harder than expected; there's a lot of turning and accuracy involved. Not everyone will get a job at UPS... Some drums are really big and they all sound good together.

Students who had participated in Sowah Mensah's African Drum class taught the rest of us some African rhythms. With the drums all doing that in unison, we added gongs and stones and made a glorious percussion orchestra. With some traffic direction from Philip (maybe also needed in the performance) we can feel the excitement of what might be.

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