WEIRD INSTRUMENTS and the SCIENCE OF SOUND

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Today I want to tell you about Garry Kvistad’s collection of strange instruments and his Science of Sound workshop. Garry is the “newbie” with NEXUS. He joined NEXUS in 2002 when founding member John Wyre retired, so he’s been a Nexonian for a mere 6 years compared to NEXUS’ thirty-seven! Newbie, indeed! But unofficially Garry had participated in a number of NEXUS undertakings over prior years. (One day, we’ll talk about his giant chimes that NEXUS uses for their signature Takemitsu piece “From me flows what you call Time”).
Garry is uniquely qualified to discuss the Science of Sound. Listen to him describe some of his instruments: Garry says, “These instruments are acoustic sound generators which I tuned to an ancient Grecian scale from the 7th century BC. One has threaded rods, like a giant mbira, and the other has acrylic rods, which are rubbed like a wine glass to get a sound. Both have cone speakers like an old Victrola and echo wires for resonance. They’re from the French Baschet brothers’ “educational instrumentarium“  which they developed for young children to experiment with musical sounds.” Don’t you just want to SEE what those things LOOK LIKE – let alone listen to them!? (You can hear these instruments on NEXUS’ CD “out of the blue“.)
In the workshop, Garry talks about the builders of instruments and how they use science to make these tools. In turn, performers can use this same science to make music. He has a global approach: American and Indonesian Gamelans, Steel Pans from the Caribbean, J.S. Bach, and Harry Partch can all end up in one of Garry’s “Science of Sound” workshops. Then he looks specifically at percussion: instrument choices, mallet choices, playing technique. How understanding the acoustic properties of percussion instruments help a performer “make better musical choices”. He even demonstrates acoustical phenomenon.  It’s great! Check it out!
If NEXUS is doing a concert for you, remember that while they are with you, you can have them do workshops for you too.

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