Sunday, April 21, 2019

Junk to Funk: DIY Percussion

In my work as a music educator, I've often had to think on my feet, and improvise when a planned lesson goes off the rails or a schedule change forces a complete left turn into some other activity.
One of the things I came up with early on for my general music students was to do a scavenger hunt, looking for things that sounded interesting and could be turned into percussion instruments: drums, shakers, rattles, and metallophnes. The results were sometimes funny and always interesting.

To this day, I continue to look for interesting things that can be turned into percussion instruments.
Last week, I rode past a construction site and noticed dozens of odd plastic discs lying on the ground among the piles of wood scraps. I pulled my bike over, and gathered up as many as I could find. Shaking them in my cupped hands, I noted that they had potential as a percussion instrument, and took them home.

After rinsing them off (by letting them sit out in a few days of rainfall in a plastic potting pail), I poked a small hole in each one with a nail. Fashioning a handle out of some old bicycle cable housing, I attached the discs to the handle with some zip-ties, which I'd also found for free and saved.

The result looked whisical and sounded soft, and gentle. I imagine using it in a studio setting with a good microphone; and in fact I'll probably use this one on my upcoming album that I plan to record in late summer. I used a homemade shaker and a sistrum on my second album to great effect.)

What household objects are lying around your place that could be turned into percussion instruments?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

groove du jour: padded love

I am messing around with rhythm.

I do this every day, several times a day, in my head. I try to do it in the mornings on my practice pad.
I did not acquire a real drum of my own until I was fourteen. Before that, I played everything at home on a practice pad, and the sound and feel of pads has stayed with me one of my great sonic loves.
It's a big part of why I collect pads instead of actual drums. There's just something about the thwack! of sticks on a rubber pad that tweaks the pleasure center in my brain, and once that jones has been established it's not going away.

So when I want to figure out a groove, I do it on my pad.

Today's groove, which may become the foundation for a new composition: Padded Love.
1940s Slingerland Radio King Pad, 1970s Ludwig 2S sticks.
(I don't play on this pad with modern marching sticks as they're too big and fat for such an old pad.)
Blogger will only let me post up to 100mb of video so this is a cut from the original. But you get the idea.

I'm imagining laying down a "bass" part with a 5-galon water jug, and perhaps some metallic colors with some old hub caps and a homemade sistrum. Stay tuned.