Saturday, June 30, 2012



Day One Hundred and Eighty Two

I enlisted the help of two feline friends today, Tabby and Ninja, who played their bells, swung their little cat door and purred loudly into the recorder. Plus Berocca bubbles from yesterday.

Friday, June 29, 2012



Day One Hundred and Eighty One

The sound of my Berocca bubbling away in a glass of water this morning was great. But by the time I thought to record it, it had pretty much finished. So it was a double dose of Vitamin B for me today! Plus bicycle spokes from yesterday.

Thursday, June 28, 2012




Day One Hundred and Eighty

I own a really great bicycle, which I don't ride much, and even less so when it gets cold. So I thought the very least I could do was find a way to record it. Who knew those spokes were so resonant?! Plus more messed with vocals from my walk in the part with Ash from yesterday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012




Day One Hundred and Seventy Nine

What a lovely day for a walk in the park! I know we all complain about the unpredictability of Melbourne weather, but little gems like this really brighten up the Winter. Some words today, from poet/vocalist Ashely Higgs, plus Noah's kitchen percussion from yesterday. Thanks so much to both for their enthusiasm to contribute to this project.

Ash doesn't have a website for his music, so you should email him and tell him to get one...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Eight

Following on from the last couple of days, I was thinking of recording/lighting my oven today. Then my friend Noah sent me two new tracks - recordings of him playing on a stove and an oven rack! Great coincidence, and a cool addition to my matchbox improvisation from yesterday. Noah's original piece, including a washing machine and sizzle ride, is here.

I met Noah at PASIC in 2011. He was introduced to me by a then very new friend, percussionist Charles Martin. Charles has just completed his Master's thesis on Mobile Computer Music for Percussionists. It's a really interesting project - I had the opportunity to play with one of his iPad apps when we performed together earlier this year. Read all about it here.

(Oh and by the way yes the track is supposed to end like that. I'm not really known for my abrupt endings but thought at this stage of the project I should try something new!).

Monday, June 25, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Seven

Improvisation with a box of matches, plus lighting candles from yesterday, chopped up with delays...

Sunday, June 24, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Six

A short post for a sparse track, after the bread machine monster that is. Lighting candles for a bath...

Saturday, June 23, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Five

So I bought a bread making machine today, and I wasn't going to record it because I thought I'd become a bit predictable in that sense. But then I put it on and it sounded really cool and I couldn't help myself. There's two samples of the machine in mixing mode towards the end of this track, but pitched down a fair way so it sounds a lot more menacing than it actually was, mixing my little three cup loaf. Plus fairly heavily processed beads and chimes from yesterday.

Friday, June 22, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Four

I love my job... today I made the cutest wind chimes ever with eight year olds: coloured paper, coloured beads, little metal bells and bobs, they look and sound great. I recorded a little bit of the chimes and also the bottle top castanets that I was figuring out way back on the 3rd of May- finally got around to making them with my students today. Plus some of the raw materials I was playing with yesterday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Three

I'm still toying with ideas for making wind chimes with kids tomorrow (so I'll probably actually have some to record then), playing around with metal washers in a box and coloured plastic beads in a bag. I've kept the rhythmic loop of my cat in his sand box from yesterday, which gets gradually lower in pitch. And little bells, too. Quite unintentionally this has been a very bead and bell-heavy week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy Two

I recorded a handful of little bells that I found whilst looking for wind chime supplies today (stay tuned in the next couple of days for the finished project). Then halfway through the recording my cat decided to scratch around in his sand box. So there's a nice rhythmic loop of that in the middle of the mix. There's some delay on the bells at the end of the track, but no (digital) pitch manipulation; I tried to change the pitch of the bells by slowly opening and closing my hands around them. Plus the necklace beads from yesterday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy One

I nearly ran over this beaded necklace in the supermarket carpark today. When I saw it I picked it up to put it to much better use, with the little packing foams from yesterday...

Monday, June 18, 2012



Day One Hundred and Seventy

Yesterday I was thinking about the different kinds of seasonal/weather sounds I've recorded so far this year. Today, I captured the sound of lots of little packing foam pieces in a cardboard box, which reminds me of the different packing materials that have appeared in this project so far: bubble wrap, plastic bags, and the polystyrene mini-project from last week.

Sunday, June 17, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Nine

I thought when I recorded rain on January 4 that my chances to include Melbourne season-related sounds in this project had passed. But I've had plenty of opportunities since, from wind to Autumn leaves. Then today, windscreen wipers, clearing the way through the grey sky, mixed with the water drums from yesterday, duplicated, reversed, sped up and slowed down...

Saturday, June 16, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Eight

I've had these little water drums for years, but never really used them for anything (in live performance situations with microphones and such people get a little nervous about water on stage...). They sit on top of the water and you can change the pitch by lifting them to let a little air in or pushing them further down into the water. Good, clean fun! Plus some of the affected rattle from yesterday.

Friday, June 15, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Seven

Yesterday I was listening to Iannis Xenakis' tape piece Concret PH, made in 1957 from the sound of burning coal. I was thinking that it sounds a lot like some of the recordings I make, manipulating the sound of rice, beads or chains. Then today I recieved a cd in the mail, from some recording I did with a friend last year, and sure enough there's a little bit of one of those beady/metal sounds, which I looped and added to the washing machine heartbeat from yesterday.

Thursday, June 14, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Six

Todays mix starts with all the polystyrene layers from yesterday, joined by a short washing machine loop that sounds a bit like a heart beat, and a longer, watery sample. One of the few rules I set with this project was that I wouldn't record the same thing twice. But dev zero sent me a great recording (and the image too), actually taken from inside the washing machine with a Zoom H1 in a waterproof camera bag! Pretty cool, so I tried to use bits of the recording that sound really different to my initial washing machine recording from February 22.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Five

Day three of my little polystyrene mini-project: I took a bread knife to the remaining block of foam, and took the bowed samples from yesterday down a few octaves...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Four

I had three pieces of polystyrene left over from a package, so I guess this is day two of a three day mini-project! Today I added several samples that I made using a bow, really gently, on one of the edges. Done softly it makes a kind of Darth Vader sound, and if you dig in it creates the kind of screech that makes my teeth hurt. I recorded a bit of the latter, but ended up leaving it out. Plus the foam crumbling from yesterday, with delay.

Monday, June 11, 2012





Day One Hundred and Sixty Three

A lot of what happens in this project has been improvised. From the use of sounds and instruments, to the addition of different effects and digital manipulation, and the juxtaposition of recordings from different sources. I have a lot of general ideas about the music and what I'd like to do, but not much is planned in advance. Sometimes this works perfectly; at other times I'll tweak the length or placement of a sample, or even begin the whole mixing process over. But sometimes beautiful things happen by accident, like the 'pop' of polystyrene happening just before the 'pop' of Anja's music box, making one sound ricochet off the other. It's something that I didn't think to do, in terms of lining up the sound clips, but it just came out that way and it worked.

I've been hunting around for words to describe my music, and I find this task incredibly difficult. One concept that I've been playing with is that of music for a film that doesn't exist (i.e. the music that I'm making here is similar to that which I would make to accompany an animation, film, or play, but the visual element isn't there). Then today I came across Walter Ruttmann, a German experimental filmmaker from the early Twentieth Century. He made a "sound film without images," Weekend (1929), an eleven-minute rapid montage of speech, noises, and music. Ruttmann pre-dated John Cage in his opinion that everyday sounds could, and should, be considered (and included in) music. Something else that Ruttmann's work considers is the different ways we listen (in a cinema as opposed to a concert hall, for example). His image-less film was shown in a cinema, at a time when recorded sound was relatively new, and seen as an accompaniment to what was on the screen. Having the audio as the only element present challenges this heirarchy. The film can be heard here.


(The description of Walter Ruttmann's film is from the book Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories by Alan Licht.



Sunday, June 10, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty Two

I received a really special contribution to this project today - a recording of my friend Lily's young daughter Anja, singing and playing with a tin music box. It was so precious I didn't want to cut it up or mess with it at all! But I have, a little, and included Greg Hooper's painting sounds from yesterday. It's so cool to be able to facilitate this kind of unknowing collaboration between two strangers. The bunny with a tambourine is one of many drawings that Lily has done for Anja. More of her work can be found here.



Saturday, June 9, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty One

Some more kids with ocean drums (well, the same kids, but I messed with the audio some more...) plus a contribution from Brisbane sound and visual artist Greg Hooper, painting his potting shed (so nice to have some birds in the mix again!). Thanks Greg for the image too.

Friday, June 8, 2012



Day One Hundred and Sixty

I spent today making ocean drums with about thirty grade 3/4 kids, then recording them playing and listening to what happened when we altered the pitch or the speed of the recording. I love that I can incorporate both acoustic and digital sound manipulation into my teaching! Then there's distorted and reversed cymbal from yesterday, and the last of the little plastic tube melody...

Thursday, June 7, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Nine

My friend Justin Ashworth asked me to do a remix of a song by his band, Glasfrosch. I'm just about to start working on it and I pinched a little sample of ride cymbal (which I think I actually played for him in the studio, a couple of years ago). I cut it up, messed with the pitch and time a bit, and added a little of the plastic tube melody from yesterday. The image is a still from the video for Justin's song Green, by Sophia Hanover.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Eight

I wanted something melodic to add to the mix today, and was thinking about using a whirly tube - but I already did that on January 8. So instead I blew into a little blue corrugated tube that came from a foot pump. Different amounts of breath change the pitch, and it works when breathing in, too. Plus a fairly sparse rhythmic accompaniment and final exploration of the hubcap with little chain from yesterday, pitched down, and down, and down.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Seven

I think today might be the last day of hubcap sounds for this project. There's more I could do but I'd like to move on, and I keep hearing other sounds I want to capture. Today, a little chain, dragged around the outside, corrugated edge. Plus the mallet squeaks from yesterday, with tremolo and a little delay.

Also, I came across a US metal band that encourages audience participation, similar to this project. Nahvalr, from Connecticut, invite contributions from their audience, which the band members collect, edit, and add to, to form "a shrieking whirlwind of noise, blasphemy, distortion, reverb, and evil." It's pretty cool, and you can sign up to be notified of any new projects (or to contribute to one) here.

Monday, June 4, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Six

Today I used the end of a vibraphone mallet in a similar way to what I was describing yesterday, to create friction and semi-sustained sounds on the hubcap. There's some incidental metallic sounds too, and I took it all down an octave because some of the sounds are a little too close to farting sounds... Plus the bouncy ball from yesterday.

When I was putting together the track for May, I noticed that only three people contributed sounds last month. So I want to reiterate that I'd still really love contributions to this project, in any form. Files can be sent to natskyplaysdrums@hotmail.com or by using soundcloud or dropbox.


Sunday, June 3, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Five

Today is the third day of my hubcab explorations, and I've got a couple more ideas up my sleeve, too. A pretty common percussion party trick is to cut a rubber bouncy ball in half and stick it on a skewer - great for playing sustained sounds by creating friction on drums, cymbals, wood, metal - just about anything. But instead of trying to get that kind of sustained sound out of the hubcab, I bounced the superball around the edges, then made a little loop by scraping the top with the skewer. Plus marbles from yesterday, played backwards then forwards with delay.

Saturday, June 2, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Four

Today: part two of let's see how many sounds can I make using a hubcap... Rolling a couple of marbles around inside. Plus the bowed hubcap from yesterday, with extra delay and a vocoder effect.

Friday, June 1, 2012



Day One Hundred and Fifty Three

I bought 4 Ford bus hubcaps at a garage sale in Bega a few years ago. I was on tour with a band, and stopped to rummage through the sale. The man who sold them to me was very earnest, saying they were genuine 1970something something... I told him I was planning on using them as percussion instruments, and I'd give him $10 for the lot. I've certainly got my moneys worth since - they're so great and have proved particularly versatile in live performance. I just played one of them today, bowing each little raised part on the underside of the hubcab. They're not made with harmonics in mind, so the clashing of tones is kind of eery. There's pomegranate from yesterday, too.