Showing posts from December, 2015

Improvisation, Part 7 - Bettine/Brophy/Kern Trio

Here we are, Part 7 of looking at Improvisation, or more specifically, how I improvise. This might be a good place to take a look at the actual definition of improvise, from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of improviseim·pro·vised   im·pro·vis·ingtransitive verb
to compose, recite, play, or sing extemporaneouslyto make, invent, or arrange offhand
to make or fabricate out of what is conveniently on hand <improvise a meal>
The idea here, as a musician, is to make things up as you go along, with whatever instruments you have. Now with a percussionist, this is such an open ended thing: just about anything can become a percussion instrument of some sort. I know this in my own work, often using scrap metal, kitchen pans/bowla and utensils, or found objects. One of my favorite places to find new “instruments ” is thrift stores. 

So for this session, besides my regular Gong/Drum set up, I went through bags and boxes I have that are filled with percussion. I looked for instruments that had inter…

Improvisation, Part 6 - Matthies/Bettine Duo & Bettine/Brophy/Kern Trio

Bettine/Matthies Duo #3
Before we move on, I wanted to do one more video with Wilhelm Matthies playing his Mosesa, because it’s a very different atmosphere from the others. I started out using a toy whirly tube to get a swirly atmosphere of longer tones over Wilhelm’s bowing. I was listening to what he did and changed the pitch I was playing by changing the speed of the tube. 
From there, I moved to my bass drum, which had 7 Paiste Cup Chimes, bell side down, sitting on the head. I started with a finger roll on the head and some of the Cup Chimes rattled against each other. In a moment of inspiration/madness, I grabbed the rim of the drum and started rocking it back and forth. This caused the Cup Chimes to gather on one edge, striking it in rhythm with my rocking motion, while the Chimes also struck against each other in a more random fashion.
Then I started swirling them around the top of the drum with my hands, for a more sustained, chaotic sound. Next I gathered them up in a stack and…

Improvisation, Part 5 - Matthies/Bettine Duo

Today we have 2 short videos of myself improvising with Wilhelm Matthies. Wilhelm plays his own invented string instruments that he calls Mosesa. Basically it's a set of strings stretched over 2 bridges, sitting atop empty plastic bottles that act as resonators. The bridge/bottles are movable, to change the string length/tuning. Wilhelm plays it with a bow, or plucks the strings with his fingers. The sound is sort of reminiscent of a string bass or cello.

The Mosesa
These 2 videos are part of a longer improv that I cut into 3 different pieces, as the moods varied in each one. The 1st video is a bit of a chaotic noise piece. Wilhelm starts with low bowed sound. I chose a small Paiste Gong to get a long, dark tone to sort of match what he was doing. Then I switched to my Floor Gamelan, which is a set of small Gongs (usually 8-16 Gongs of 4"-12" in diameter) that I place on the floor/carpet to get a muted sound. Unfortunately, I had changed the camera angle here and you can&#…