May 30 2010

Backsides & elbows

factoid

Back from Maker Faire, and there are a million little things to do for our next gig.

We’re going to roll in the Topanga Days Parade on Memorial Day.

Topanga Canyon is a blend of old-school hippie culture and celebrity ranches with long driveways, a beautiful curving road up from the ocean to the San Fernando Valley. Every year, there’s a music festival (this year it’s been headlined by Ziggy Marley, Maria McKee and Canned Heat, which should give you some idea).

Anyway, we applied and were accepted as one of the 50 vehicles in the parade (largely old fire engines and hot rods, so I’m told, but there should be a few floats too)

We’re driving in what’s traditionally the Santa Claus spot in the lineup – the very last.

Between now and then, we’re making mallets to replace the dozens of splintered casualties left by the pummeling of hundreds of kids and aggressive adults at Maker Faire.

I ordered four dozen 3/8ths-inch fiberglass dowels to serve as new sticks (at right). Only one problem: They’re so rigid, heavy and dense that they actually deaden the sound when playing. Instead of a nice “PLONNNNGGGGGG” you get a leaden “THUNGK.”

Fifty bucks down the drain, and now we have to repair the sticks we have left, and battle-harden them … Continue reading


Mar 18 2010

Tubular bells array – sound check

factoid

Here’s the first set of tubular bells, untuned. Tuning them is a pain in the ass: Unlike the keys, these cannot be made flatter by hollowing out the middle, between the nodes.

Instead, you can only sharp them by carving slices off the ends. Luckily, I wound up creating a sort of Middle-Eastern koto-sounding thang, that kind of works. I hope these don’t dull down too much when I mount them.

Miking and amplifying will be a challenge – I’ll need to figure out a resonator or some sort of sound funnel feeding a mike at one end of the tubes. But they resonate deeply, and they’ll look pretty wikkid bolted to the side of the van.

Enjoy the sustain.