PS. A great Belgian ? performer with unusual instruments is Max Vandervorst. I saw him already three times. He did a concept with instruments only made from SPA-bottles once. Info : http://www.maxvandervorst.be/
PS. Other experiments with sounds with help of parameters in plants : http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/music.html (The music has been transduced from natural variations in some biological parameter (determined by the electrode).
"The vibrations were easily measurable using an infrared spectrophotometer. By exposing each section of DNA to infrared light and measuring the wavelength of the light absorbed, it was possible to determine distinctive frequencies for each DNA molecule. The ratios of the light frequencies were converted into ratios of sound."
* I heard of the existence of stone & crystal ancient instruments, like from China, but I never heard music played on it.
Chinese ancient stone instruments are Stone chimes and slabs of stone which resonate, or echo, when struck.
One of these resonating stones instruments is called according to the Micus booklet "Pien Ch'ing", or maybe better the stone Qing.
Another example of such an instrument is black stone instrument, believed to be 3,000 years old and still able to produce a clear sound. It has no special decorative pattern, with just a small hole on it to hang it up. It is called a "qing," an ancient musical instrument.It was probably an imperial instrument used in ceremonies. The "qing," either made of stone or jade, was an important ancient musical instrument and first appeared in China before 1,600 B.C. :
About the interpretation that stone chimes are "played" for some "musical" use we may also not forget the fact that similar stones are also wind chimes, used to crte a kind of healing sounds for the environment. "Although the wind chime has existed from prehistoric times in many cultures, it received its most elegant and prolific development in east and south Asia, from Bali to Tibet and Japan, where it was often elaborately decorated, cast, or carved and was hung from the eaves of sacred structures. Buddhists especially made use of wind chimes and wind bells, attaching them profusely by the hundreds or even thousands to the eaves of temples, shrines, and pagodas, causing during breezy moments an almost overwhelming auspicious sensation of sound. In China and Japan they became a decorative art in private homes as well as on sacred structures, and in the 19th and 20th centuries their popular use spread more widely among Western countries." (from http://www.spiritwinds.com/healing_wind_chimes.htm)
There exist also ancient stone chimes with such stones.
According to the following pages these instruments are called "a "Lithophone", a set of struck sonorous stones (individually called phonoliths). Such instruments can be found from the South Seas and South America to Africa and the Far East. Stones are used in Ethiopian and Coptic churches, for example, as bells (dowel) as well as in sets of chimes. Large stones are used in some Vietnamese religious temples, and one of the oldest surviving" : http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=71620
Also In Korea there were stone instruments, called Pyonkyung : "made out of "kyong-sok" which is an extraordinary stone. It includes the total of sixteen stones. The " kyong-sok" It gets placed on two stories for each of the eight stories - the upper and lower part of the wooden frame. It is played by the beating of the lower part of kyong-sok with a "kakt'oe". It has been used since the Goryeo period and is able to produce these stones when kyong-sok, which possesses beautiful patterns and clear tone, was found in the Namyang area in Gyeonggi Province by King Sejong. It is believed that at the time, the Pyonkyung has much more accurate pitches and beautiful tones than that of the Chinese equivalent." (from http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/m/r/mrb280/assignment7/stone.html) "Its tone is much loved for its clear ringing sound and is often regarded as a metaphor of hin-girogi (white wild goose) which is an elegant image in Korean folklore. Above all, the most important aspect about this instrument is that it is used in measuring pitches and intervals of the notes which determine a system of constructing the notes concerning Korean music. The reason for using this for pitch measurement is that the Pyonkyung does hardly change its character of pitch and tone color under any circumstances such as temperature and humidity. This property provides its preservation almost permanently for the practical purposes." 2 other Vietnamese musical stones (7th century) from basalt are called "Dan Da" and "Ken Da"
* Clay sound much dryer than stones. Also Micus and various other artists played on clay pots. Clay flutes are common. I preferred to use more basic to nature sounds in this show instead.My favourite example of "ocarina's"are from Sharon Rowell (with sound) : http://www.clayz.com/archive.html
Sub RosaLilith : Stone (US,1992)***°°
Tr.1, 21 min (->18 min)
Tr.3, 240->730 5 min 23 38
Unique project based upon sounds made with stones only, programmed and mixed by computer. Speaks to imagination. With varied rhythms from sounds of stones. Most of it is very pleasant to listen too, but there a few more destructive sounds used of scratching,.. stones too..Still, an impressive release and masterly mixed.
Tr.4, Jean-Claude Chapuis : "Luminiscence" 3 min 48
Fantastic book with CD about experimental music instruments. THere has been a second release, which was good too. The most essential of both releases as introduction to experimental music artists is this one. One of the best introductions I know of. A highly recommended start for the field ! The related magazine is interesting too.
Ashame that the release of sonorous glass artist Chapuis is sold out at source. I'm still looking for his works. The sounds of this crystal glass is much more ethereal than the sound of stone. Glass comes close in sound to crystal, but is in fact a very slowly moving fluid !.The sound of crystal is more solid. A fine combination of both sounds perfect.
Tr.10, "Radioactivität" 6 min (fragment 4 min.) 9 (a Kraftwerk cover)
With the use of bioelectric impulses from plants combined with noises from using vegetable as instruments. Used in performances. This second album is more interesting than their first because they used rhythms. Never the less there could have used more musicality for the actual recording.
I wanted to use the other item at first too, but preferred to stay as close as possible to the natural sounds plants produce themselves. I also had too little time to play the earlier item. From hat one I liked a lot the funny muppet like track with carrot-flutes. The Austrien name is "das erste Wiener Gemüseorchester" (= the first vegetable orchestra from Vienna) Info : http://www.gemueseorchester.org/
The perfect soundscape, with text, minimal music & insect sounds. Highly recommended. Andreas Ammer is a Journalist, radio play producer, Martin Gretschmann aka Console, musician & DJ. Some tracks I played are with some more arranged music with cello,..besides (mixed and rhythmically mixed) ) insect sounds.
Lots of the scientific talk is about the sex life of these animals. In fact this is a typical human limitation in the observation field. In this radioshow, when we follow 'categories of sound' from stone to plant to insect we can "hear" an evolution in sound...
Mute Rec.Graeme Revell : The insect musicians (UK,1986)***°
Tr.1, "Nocturne (on an oriental theme)" (->159)
Tr.8, "Phobia" 3 min
Tr.9, "Invaders of the heart" 3 min 8 102
Good release of music produced by sounds of insects, sometimes manipulated or sampled. Dark, but moody. Sometimes sounds that couldn't be heard by human ears were lowered to make audible. Most tracks are fine ambient pop which have a more 'human' touch, because they have a more 'melodic' than experimental or semi-acoustic sound in the 'electric piano' play. There are however some fantastic tracks too, also thanks to the pressive sounds of the death'head hawkmoth, bees, cicada,...
Smithsonian FolkwaysSounds of North American frogs (US,1958)***°
personal CDR version Tr.12,8,16,17,18,26,27,28,39,41,
75,77,86,87,88 12 min 114
Unique documentary. I made a CDR copy of my release and whipped out all the talking, and edited some of the tracks (fade outs,..) and added a couple of extra tracks with some additional echo and stereo effects, which made the release more interesting to listen. Sounds vary in range from electronic sound to insect like to bird like to "human voice" like.
Tr.2, "wedell seals (mothers and pups)" (230-end) 3 min
Tr.3, "Wedell seals" (underwater) (fragment) 7 min
Tr.7, "At the sea ice edge" (leopard seals, weddel seals and Orcas)
15 min (only 6 minutes when time's short, otherwise more) 16 130
Weddle seals are almost like human voices on the abstract, as if it are expressions from humans, imprisoned in a animal body. The same animals under water sound much more free in sounds. The noises sound, completely the opposite, much more as "free sounds", exactly like electronic music. More info on this project more on top of this page.
SupposeAnimal Music : Team of Jeremy Roht West Dawson, Yukon-Territory (rec.CAN,2001)**
Tr.5, (fragment) 1 min
Tr.1, 2 min
Tr.14,(fragment) 2 min
Tr.32, 2 min 7 138
Collection of singer dogs harmonies. Interesting, but still not that incredible to listen too as abstract music. As a document it's somewhat more unique. Singing dogs sing more varied than any other dog/wolf. They need to be left alone before they perform like this. Some of the harmonic interactions are musically interesting.
Hard to believe but the first three tracks are incredible and beautiful meditative music played by elephants without much instructions. The instruments were designed for elephants after much study and practical considerations. I believe the elephants were influenced by Thai temple music. With the right instruction who knows what else they would start to play.The few bonus compositions on this CD, of playing together with humans are not interesting.
Elephants can distinguish pitches, tones, rhythms sometimes better than humans. It's obvious why they don't like the primitive synthesizer. Also I'm sure the theremin will sound completely different for elephants as for humans, for we only hear some part of the sounds it produces.
PS. Elephants have a resonance chamber on top of their head with which they produce sounds to communicate with other elephants over long distances. That's also why their ears are much bigger (and why they have a small bump on their forehead).
Another project which I only found out a few days before the radioshow broadcast were recordings of underwater guitar play communication with mammals responding. If the radioshow goes fluently enough I'll include a recording from
WindworldVar. Artists : Experimental musical Instruments : Early Years (var.,1985-1992)***
Tr.4, Jim Nollman: "47 Whale Raga" 4 min.
Underwater guitar, accompanied by whales. The whales responded to some bluesy pitched slide guitar !
We can see this as a performance WITH animals, in real communication.
With The Thai Elephant Orchestra’s second CD the elephants seem to have increased some of their skills. They were thaught more complex patterns (5 elephants now can play a 32 note song by rote). But they still play mainly what they want, because the human commands mostly are limited to “stop”, “start” and for a few elephants a number of hits. The liner note’s introduction by David Soldier explains mainly everything.
After a funny child-guide’s recorded introduction I was really amazed, even after having heard the little bit more temple-music like anarchy of first CD, these were actually elephants playing, because here they played even more regular and with more melodic content. I don’t think you can get easily children to do this with the same relaxed feeling and varied pitches. The feeling remains a bit meditative. We hear harmonious melodies rhythmically accompanied, and it is very strangely musical, in a justified way. Also we have this very natural feel in the evolution on everything that’s happening in the “elephants only” part. Some elephant instruments have improved too. (soundfiles : "Phong's Solo", "The Birth Of Ganesh" and "Ganesha Triumphant" ). The elephants play large xylophones and tubular bells, an elephant harmonica, cymbals, slit drums with bass strings, a pedal operated cymbal, gongs, large Thai temple drums, metal “Angalungs” (for background textures), PVC panpipes, and we also hear elephant’s commands to “singing” and spontaneous trumpeting.
The second part of the album, elephants with humans is a bit different. At the first confrontation hearing David Soldier, “a foreigner”, hear him play on violin a Thai folk tune, various elephants, except for the playing on and in the rhythm as they were told, spontaneously started trumpeting along too (this you can hear on "Little Elephant Saddle"). For most human interventions I think something is seriously missing, because the humans play too much what they want without changing the rhythm and melody for the openness of the moment. When that human part is too straight the playing of the elephants becomes more seeking, coincidental and chaotic with only some parts of it fitting well. The humans should pay most attention to their own tunes and tuning should have been more open tuned. Some attempts were fine, but still didn’t succeed so well as they could have been done, like the improvisation on the “pin pia”, a Thai wa-wa string instrument played by professor Narong Smithitham, or with the electric cello by Jami Sieber which has only logical moments. Another track is played on bamboo violins (called bamboolin), played by inventor Jumpoot Muangling, a somewhat more preferable track of humans with elephants.
Last part are music pieces about elephants. An original tune and idea is “Kaw-Liga” by Hank Williams sung by a Thai vocalist with the fiddle replaced by a Thai saw, and the guitar part accompanied by a “sueng”, played by a mahout. The few marching band pieces are ok too. The funny marching band like arrangement especially arranged for a school’s concert marching band and elephants (playing the percussion, harmonicas and angalungs), might be the best human piece of the album. Also the Harry Partch like improvisation with the elephants sounds much more logic to me. I also like the Thai school brass band arrangements of Mancini’s “Baby Elephant walk”. The brass section recalls the elephant-walk feel, well. Then there’s one club house mix which for me is a bit too childish as an idea. I’m glad they stopped working out this kind of exploitation.
For the elephants I think the performances work best on time schedules where they have their own pulses. Whenever that is respected and understood the elephant music works best.
Another remark : Pygmy culture and Swiss original yodling sound very much similar. Finish traditions, like
aboriginal traditions all used sounds from nature to communicate and secondly to have contact with nature. These deeper lying origins are nearly forgotton. Aboriginals not only intercept sounds of animals with didgeridoo.
People also communicated centuries back with dolphins. It seems like if one tries again (see above : Jim Nollman) like I believe also National Geographic once did, it seems that doplhins seem still to wait for better communication, and always make a repetition of what you expresses into a much more complex form, as if they play with us or test our intelligence in stead of the other way around. Don't forget dolphins have a much more bigger brain than ours. Some parts that stand for our kind of logic are not, but that does not make the perception of the world smaller at all.
I just started this section. Info on it is welcome. E-mail me.
Mulatta Rec.Thai Elephant Orchestra: Water Music (THAI,2010)*****
This the third album by the elephant orchestra, luckily with full attention to what the orchestra, the elephants, decided to want to play themselves, recorded live and spontaneous and without any overdubs. More instruments have been developed since and the orchestra also expanded to 14 elephants. Only the first track is with a human intervention, a traditional invocation religious song by a respected Thai religious figure, something which evolves through a instrumental development and then by the elephant's own version of singing. Everything else is an elephants free performance only. Only the second and third track feature some simple environmental sounds of rainsticks played by some of the employees of the centre, but these fit well with the elephant's performances. The CD is amazing and shows the elephant's ability to play in steady rhythms and even some improvisational melodies or tunings. Recommended, not just for the artefact but for the music. The music changes the whole time, quietly, breathing, rhythmically, harmoniously like the sounds of the forest, with many surprising combinations. We hear improvisations on different bass drums, wood and metallic xylophones, bass strings, accordions, gongs and bigger gamelans, all played and led by elephants.. Experience the first animal's slave music's forest blues, like nature's call, like a request for inner contemplation.
Nearly 12 years of experience and 12 members for this orchestra, the ensemble only uses vegetables as their instruments. I also just read how they are now currently working with scientist Wolfgang Palme from the Horticultural College and Research Institute Schönbrunn to develop the next generation of carefully cultivated instruments, having their vegetables grown in their desired shape for instance. So far, and also for this album, they have cut them into the shapes they wanted, assembled pieces or just used nature’s looks, shapes and sounds. Now, this needs a few extra perspectives how to create music with the sounds of vegetables only. First, there’s the shaping and collecting of the instruments, creating an ensemble with new sorts of sounds based upon certain traditional instruments or the basic principles of instruments. We have lots of flutes, of which the carrots for instance were very useful, and percussive instruments of which calabashes and pumpkins were one of few more obvious examples. Most easy it would be to create rhythmical and playful tracks with a collection of odd sounds of this exotic musicabolarium. And indeed, several tracks are based upon recorded and at times a bit more amplified rhythms which were discovered, improvised and played with a good balance between the newly found sounds in a fitting way. Then, more unexpected sounds are part of this too. We have some very high toned whistling sounds, like sharp, almost painful whistles, like screams of the vegetables crying out its own kind of throats, or also, cleverly discovered plops, fumbling, plocks or even once, sawing sounds. I loved the percussive carrot-alike ribbed sound, which became resonating like a frog sound. Except these attractive and well performed collection of rhythmic tracks there are also more experimental, sound based events being recorded. A few tracks imitate rain like as if produced by a rainstick and with fast percussion like rain on a roof. Such tracks are descriptive with nature are about a natural condition of events. Elsewhere I also heard a balloon-like sound, wondering from which instrument that comes from. Everything sounds very exotic. This third album might be the best and most accessible and successful to date. Just on the last track, as a joke they went more berserk with distortion on the vegetable sounds, calling the effect of this “Krautrock”. While in Dutch the origin of the word “Kraut” could refer to gunpower as well as to herbs in general, in Germany the original reference of the word, once used as an association with one of the typical German vegetable dishes (“Sauerkraut” or sour white cabbage), in association with the Germans at a certain point in time, it means actually herb or cabbage in general, so making the musical style period and term association with this new vegetable music orchestra was more than appropriate, a challenge they couldn’t fail to add.