Monday, April 6, 2009

Making sounds with vegetables

As Tom Waits once said, there's a world going on underground. I have been shopping the produce aisle for the Stradivarius potential and been amassing a sound library of veggie voices.

Some of them need a contact mic while others are plenty loud enough to be heard by a regular air mic.

The band so far includes:
Bamboo whirlies
Bok choy creaking
Wooden bull roarer
Cactus needles plucked
Coconut water as picked up by contact mic
Eggplant flapper
Eggplant guiro
Gourd rattles
Melon halves
Millett rattle
Onion skin crackled
Bamboo pan pipes
Pine cone scraped (sounds like mosquitoes being zapped)
Popcorn rattle
Rice Krispies trademark Snap Crackle and Pop
Spaghetti in box rattles (whole wheat, of course)
Water melon tapped by fingers

Next job is to orchestrate their sounds so they complement each other and provide weird and wonderful textures and rhythms that emerge from beneath the whole flower carpet area. There will be 10 parallel mp3 players + speaker systems, totalling 20 channels. The start of each pair will be staggered by 5" so we can get an approximation of synchronization. I am playing with solos and choruses, creating mini dialogs, as well as giant massed textures. Loons, frogs, cicadas, and jungle critters all have different organizations yet live together in the ecosystem in their acoustic niche.

Added to this recorded multi-channel spatial configuration will be the sounds made by the rotating flower beds. I have a couple of bamboo windchimes to deconstruct as well as wooden clappers. Since there will be 5 spinners going around every 10" we will get a constant looping sound from whatever gets placed underneath. Less is more, so I will be experimenting with mechanisms that make clear tones and phase patterns that enliven the space without being too predictable.

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