I’ve been working today again on developing my self playing drone machines. Had an interesting afternoon of research starting out trying to work with some completely different materials to usual. I’ve usually defaulted to using guitar strings playing against the edges of my two turntables. This creates a workable amount of friction to generate a sound but the metal on metal feel can lead to crazy spiraling harmonic partials in frequency ranges which can be pretty uncomfortable!
So today I was looking at using felt on the surfaces of the turntables themselves to create a different feel to the friction and sound it generated. An idea found in Ignaz Schick’s essay in the Echtzeitmusik book where he talks about some of the different materials he uses on his prepared turntables and kind of a nice echo back to Joseph Beuys. Arriving at the studio I realised the 78 player actually already has felt on the turntable but not all the way to the edge; there’s a metal rim still. Didn’t get it to work quite as i wanted; the edge of the felt needs to be super flush to the edge of the turntable and fixed down pretty well. Will bring right tools next time.
Leaving the felt for another time I moved on to work with other materials; firstly stones. When agitated at the turntable edge this created rather nondescript friction and scrapes sound. Could be made by anything. Maybe different stones would produce different possiblities of sound. Mass, weight etc… Also with stones you can make a nice repeato rhythms arranging them on and around the turntable.
With a little bit of testing, stretching, tensioning in different spots I found quickly that the third material; rubber worked to make some great sounds. I used the original slipmat on the turntable as the point of contact and a stretched balloon attached to the piano frame as you can see in pictures above. The rubber on rubber feel gave a much lower starting frequency (this was also to do with the balloon not having much tension on it all) which you can hear in the recording below. This meant that the harmonic partials that grew as the piece developed stayed in a more comfortable hearing range.
Made several recordings using the rubber as singing object. Interesting as the rubber vibrated you got a completely different pattern to the way a guitar string vibrates. See note below. Then moved onto test out the some latex sculpted pieces I’ve been constructing last few months; casting objects I play guitar with and other musical detritus with liquid latex. Was really tricky to get these tensioned right and held in place for any length of time. Got some occasional great sounds, with the kind of thickness and tonal quality of the saxophone. More to come…