This was the last act I saw at the Halifax Buskers Festival. Two young men dressed in strange clothes set up some instruments that I recognised (didgeridoos and dgembe drums), and a sound system running from an iMac Power Book. There were also some conventional and unconventional fire show devices. However, the setup didn’t look too complicated. The music was a combination of live playing and pre-recorded music prepared earlier by the musician. It was a wonderful mix of traditional Aboriginal, African, Caribbean, and a bit if electronica. It was mystical and melodious.
Then Jesse Lethridge, the musician in the show, started playing an instrument that reminded me of either a flying saucer or two shallow woks welded together. He laid it in his lap and started playing it like a drum. The sounds that came out of this instrument were totally unexpected. At first it sounded like wind chimes, then it sounded like a group of tuned steelpan drums, and then there were harp-like sounds. It was not visibly electronic, nor was it connected to any amplifier.
I went hunting for information on the Hang, and it took a while, because I wasn’t sure how it was classified; was it a drum, a chime, some sort of bell, or where there bells, chimes or other devices inside? What culture originated it, and how old was it?
It turned out that it was invented in 2000 in Switzerland. It seems that the Swiss became fairly fond of steelpan drums in the 1970s (maybe it goes well with cowbells and alpenhorns)? But they found that the drums deteriorated quickly because of the quality of the steel used, and so they lost good tonality. Then a group of metallurgists, musicians, and scientists looked at percussion instruments around the world and accomplished two things. First, they developed a steel that had very good tonality, and which didn’t deteriorate. Second, they developed a new instrument that is partially drum and partially a chime. The top of the saucer is solid and has nine regions with their own tones. The base has a hole in it and has a rich base tone. By hitting or stroking different sections, you can create the rich variety of tones describe above.
Here are examples of the sound.
Then there were the fireworks. With the mystical and driving beat from Jesse, Alan Star proceeded to create magic, first with devices I’d seen others use at the festival, but with more skill, rhythm, and a more fluid motion. Then he started using some staffs that I hadn’t seen before. Finally he picked up a silver staff that had roman candles on the end. Then it really became interesting, since I had never seen this before outside of a major fireworks display.
Alan Star from Indijika .
Alan and Jesse from Indijika . Theodore Tugboat is checking thinks out from backstage (since he composes a significant portion of backstage…)
Alan and Jesse from Indijika .
Alan from Indijika .
a quickr pickr post