MusicSafari 13: Bart Hopkin’s Instrumentarium

Bart Hopkin’s Instrumentarium

The Instrumentarium is the online multimedia gallery presenting the collection of musical instruments conceived, designed, built and performed by the instrument designer extraordinaire Bart Hopkin. Instruments are organising nine sections as follows:

    • Winds
    • Plosives & Aerophonic Oddities
    • Lamellaphones
    • Free Bars
    • Bells, Forks, Gongs & More
    • Drums
    • Lutes, Harps & Lyres
    • Zithers
    • Uncategorizable

The video below shows one of Bart’s creation (from the Uncategorizable Section) called Bosky Jangle. This interactive sound installation was originally called Sound Chamber as it appeared at the Bolinas Museum in 2015, curated by Elia Haworth. It is a kinetic soundspace of bell trees and other instruments with a foresty kind of mood. For later installations the name was changed to Bosky Jangle.

 

Bart Hopkin’s Instrumentarium is located at http://barthopkin.com/instrumentarium/

Visitors will encounter a fascinating collection of creative and inventive musical instruments.

About the artist:

Bart Hopkin is a musician, instrument designer, music educator and author. Since 1974, he has worked as composer, arranger and performer in a variety of contexts. He has designed and built numerous musical instruments, and performed with them.

From 1985 to 1999, he edited the quarterly journal Experimental Musical Instruments. The journal served as an essential resource and clearing house in an otherwise scattered but lively and growing field. After the final issue of the journal, Experimental Musical Instruments continued as an organization serving people interested in inventive instrument design, producing and selling informational resources as well as hardware for instrument makers.

MusicSafari 12: Tolgahan Çoğulu’s Adjustable Microtonal Guitar

MusicSafari 12:
Tolgahan Çoğulu’s Adjustable Microtonal Guitar

The Adjustable Microtonal Guitar was designed by Turkist guitarist Tolgahan Çoğulu in 2008. This microtonal guitar allows players to easily change positions of frets, and to add/remove fret(s) to tune the instrument to various  microtonal scales. This flexibility in micro-tuning opens incredible opportunities for guitarists to expand their music beyond the restriction of the Western scale of temperament. This is an amazing contribution to the development of the classical guitar and its music.
In this video, Tolgahan Çoğulu introduces the main features of his 8-stringed adjustable microtonal guitar and performs various pieces.


The following video presents a performance of the Microtonal Guitar Duo (Tolgahan Çoğulu on 8-stringed guitar and Sinan Cem Eroğlu on fretless guitar)

For further information, please visit Tolgahan Çoğulu’s website

MusicSafari 11 : Not All Who Wonder Are Last (CD Review)

Not All Who Wonder Are Last

Bowlines CD cover

Not All Who Wonder Are Last is the second CD of the Melbourne-based string trio Bowlines. In this CD, listeners encounter the new line-up of the ensemble: Ernie Gruner (violin/viola/octave violin), Hope Csutoros (violin), and Helen Mountfort (cello). The whole CD is a live recording of a Bowlines’ performance in Brunswick, Victoria on 30th October 2016. Drawing elements and inspirations from various sources, including classical and world music, Bowlines created an improvised cross-genre music that offers listeners many magical moments.

While four short tracks (Rowing into Sunlight, The Traveller’s Dog, Over the Hills to Faraway, and Unexpected Descent) are built on a single musical idea/gesture, longer tracks are beautifully crafted to reveal to the listeners the audio essences of feelings or imagined situations. The CD demonstrates Bowlines’ mastery of story-telling in sounds with lively gestures, dazzling rhythms and charming melodies. Their music flows easily from moments ot moments, from one idea to another, and from earthy folk elements to classical and theatrical textures. It is a joy to listen to the CD in its entirety as a grand suite of improvised moments.

The whole CD can be sampled online at Bowlines’ Bandcamp site.

Bowlines will launch this new CD in Melbourne, Australia on October 7th 2018. For details, visit their website at: http://www.bowlines.com.au/gigs/

MusicSafari 10: Fluorophone by Speak Percussion

Speak Percussion is the Australian percussion ensemble that has re-defined the sounds of percussion music and the potential of percussion. Speak Percussion is internationally recognised as a leader in the fields of experimental and contemporary classical music. Many of its performances are impressive in both visual and musical aspects.

Between 23 and 25 November 2016, Speak Percussion presented the Australian premiere of its 2015 touring project Fluorophone.

Fluorophone creates a kaleidoscopic sound world in which the central instruments radiate, flicker, glow and burn. Analogue and digital fluorescent lights, the naked flame, strobe lights and custom-built LED discs are combined with percussion to create a program in which the music and lighting design are one and the same. Fluorophone moves between noise, theatrical music and virtuosic instrumentalism, in a synesthetic display of light and sound. Featuring specially commissioned works by a prominent team of leading composers”–Program notes.

Fluorophone features works by Juliana Hodkinson, Simon Loeffler, Eugene Ughetti, and Damien Ricketson.

Lightness by Juliana Hodkinson:

 

e by Simon Loeffler

 

 

Pyrite Gland by Eugene Ughetti

 

 

Rendition Clinic by Damien Ricketson

 

 

b by Simon Loeffler

 

 

For more information on Speak Percussion, visit their website

MusicSafari 9: Up from the Deep (Digital Album Review)

Up from the Deep


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up from the Deep is a compilation of selected live recordings from five concerts held in a World War II oil storage tunnel under Darwin (Australia) during the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music . This 2016 festival is a special event in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians from various musical paths gathered and made music together in a space deep in their shared land. The acoustic outcome is exquisitely beautiful.

Up From the Deep has 14 tracks featuring eight manikay (clan songs of the Yolngu people people in Northeastern Arnhem Land), two West Papua songs, and four instrumental pieces.

Aboriginal songmen Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi and Sebastian Guyundula Burarrawanga joined Sarah Hopkins (cello, harmonic whirlies, overtone singing), Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Ernie Gruner (violin), Anja Tait (violin), Netanela Mizrahi (viola), and Adrian Gurruwiwi (yidaki) to deliver the manikay. In six of these manikay, the instrumentalists created soundscapes that nurture the voice(s) and the meanings of the songs to enhance their beauty and to bring the musical experience to a deeper level.

A very special and moving moment happened when Guwanbal spontaneously sang a manikay “Look at the cloud formation rising up from Dhumara Garrimala” during the performance of Sarah Hopkins’ 1994 composition Remember the Joy. The pre-composed music and the manikay seem to blend into a magical whole.

The four instrumental pieces offer strikingly contrasting atmospheres. They were masterly created at the moment of performance in the tunnel. While Sea Sky (violin, viola, cello and shakuhachi) and Water Spirits (2 violins and viola) flow effortlessly along the soundscapes of the manikay , Dance! As the World Goes Mad! and Wartime Waltz are lively reminders of the resilience of Darwin during wartime.

Apart from the manikay and instrumental pieces, the earthy and heartfelt songs sung in Biak language (now officially replaced by Bahasa Indonesia in West Papua) performed by Henk Rumbewas added another dimension of sounds to musically enrich this compilation. Henk also briefly added his powerful voice in two of the manikay songs, Wheeling Seagulls and Green Sea Turtle, eliciting an excited response from the instrumentalists and the Yolngu songmen.

Up from the Deep is a special compilation that presents the musical traditions of Australia in a new perspective. Here, the artists met and created music spontaneously in a space deep within our land. Each artist draws from his/her musical experience to contribute to the process of music-making, bringing about magical moments in sound.

You can listen to all tracks of the album Up from the Deep at BandCamp.

MusicSafari 8: Circling Strangers (CD Review)

Bowlines’ Circling Strangers
bowlines-cover-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circling Strangers is the debut CD of the improvising string trio Bowlines (Ernie Gruner (violin/viola), Heather Stewart (violin) and Jenny Thomas (viola)). The CD is a live recording of Bowlines’ performance in Brunswick, Victoria on 27th of July, 2014. The music on this CD reveals the magical power of collective improvisation at work. The three improvisers create musical layers that blend, support, or reinforce each other in a variety of ways. Elements of musical traditions such as classical, blues, or klezmer provide the raw materials for the musicians to create new musical entities with depth and feelings.

Bowlines’ music leads listeners through various moods and audio landscapes. The title track of the CD, Circling Strangers (Track 2), shows collective improvisation at its best. Here, the three instruments are perfectly unified into a musical stream that fluidly evolves in a lyrical and dynamic way. Track 3 is a little beauty in which the combination of pizzicatos, spiccatos, brief patterns and long glissandos with walking rhythms seems to depict scenes from a ballet of marionettes. The music of Waiting in Long Empty Space (Track 4) is quite emotional. At times, the strings sound as if they are moaning under the delicate bows. Taking the Mantle Again (Track 8) is characterised by long and lyrical melodies. Sweet Behemoth (Track 9) is fused with energy and is beautifully crafted with layers of tremolos and pizzicatos in varying intensities.

Even though Circling Strangers only contains 35 minutes of music, the CD has much to offer to listeners who love to explore the beauty of spontaneity in improvised music.

The CD can be listened online at: Bowlines’ Bandcamp Site

For more information about Bowlines, please visit their website: Bowlines

MusicSafari 7: Twilight (2013) by Ge Wang

Stanford Laptop Orchestra : Twilight (2013)

Twilight (2013) for laptop orchestra by Ge Wang
performed by Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University, May 2013.

A composition for the laptop orchestra that demonstrates the capability of laptop computers as powerful, sensitive and expressive instruments in a live concert performance.

Notes from the SLOrk’s video:
“Inspired by the classic science-fiction short story “Twilight” by John W. Campbell (published in 1934, under the pseudonym “Don A. Stuart”), this piece ruminates not of the dawn, ascension, nor triumph of the human race, but of one possible demise set seven million years in the future. This end is not one of annihilation through war, nor decimation from famine or disease, but a golden decrescendo of defeat brought on by the gradual, peaceful, but unstoppable usurping of technology and machines — and the loss of man’s curiosity and sense of wonder. From the original text:
“Twilight — the sun has set. The desert out beyond, in its mystic, changing colors. The great, metal city rising straight-walled to the human city above, broken by spires and towers and great trees with scented blossoms. The silvery-rose glow in the paradise of gardens above.”

i. The Dead City
“And all the great city-structure throbbing and humming to the steady gentle beat of perfect, deathless machines built more than three million years before — and never touched since that time by human hands. And they go on. The dead city. The men that have lived, and hoped, and built — and died to leave behind them those little men who can only wonder and look and long for a forgotten kind of companionship. They wander through the vast cities their ancestors built, knowing less of them than the machines themselves.”

ii. A Song of Longing
“And the songs. Those tell the story best, I think. Little, hopeless, wondering men amid vast unknowing, blind machines that started three million years before — and just never knew how to stop. They are dead — and can’t die and be still.”

This is the first installment in the Twilight series for various and mixed media. The cycle explores the psychology, longing, beauty and sadness of a twilight of humanity ending not in a bang, but an irreversible powerdown, basked in the golden, lingering, dying glow of man’s dusk.”

For more information about composer Ge Wang and his works:
Ge Wang page at CCRMA

Or:

Watch his presentation “The DIY orchestra of the future” at TEDTalks (2014):