Thursday, 13 November 2014

Let new sounds be played to counter their noise!

Let new sounds be played to counter the noise!

It's been for a long time for this writer to write about an article regarding his music of interest. That, besides punk, metal, industrial, oldies, and bouts of world music, this writer is somehow quite compelled to create this post that also citing his appreciation to those "creations" whose intention is to create a sound that is unfamiliar to many yet artful to some. Most of the instruments may seemed strange, all from its appearance to the sound being vented, and yet some had afford to listen to as well as appreciate as it invokes uniqueness, contrary to those usually being played in the radio from morning till midnight.

Yes, it may sound weird though citing the fact how these sounds are too deviant from the usual ones being played, but why not let give them a chance to introduce? Music isn't limited to a rock band, a classical orchestra, or a guy playing his synthesiser and a drum machine. There are others whose imagination, or let's just say "weirdness" had afford to make instruments to play and to express as an artist.

Such as these videoes featuring instruments shown below. This writer somehow picked a few examples of unfamiliar, experimental instruments, its creators, and the sounds being played in these creations. 


Made by a Turkish Musician named Görkem Şen, that instrument, known as "Yaybahar", bridges the gap between the unplugged goodness of an old-school acoustic instrument, and the space aged sound of a modern-day synthesizer.

To some people, that instrument is quite strange, as well as bulky due to its appearance, but Şen, an instrumentalist, wanted to create something new, that he wanted to fuse the past and present such as a modern sound without any electricity required to play over. The Yaybahar can be played in a variety of different ways using mallets or with a bow, relying on a combination of two drum-like membranes, long springs, and a tall fretted neck to create music that is reminiscent of a plugged instrument used by a DJ (Disk Jockey); and Şen himself tried his instrument by playing a wide range of sounds, from Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to a series of noise irritating to mainstream listeners.

He even shown it at Ted Talks as an audiovisual performance making people aware of its "artful noise" regardless of what had been shown. People may mistaken it for a mere chordophone at first, only to found out that it plays a different kind of sound.

And also according to Ted Talks, it further stated that:

"The technologies of today are making the rigid walls of art and art production pliable and transparent. These five artist whom have come together in various projects in the past are aiming for the hybrid perception of audio and visual. Through improvisational music and real time visual production software they are connecting the whole process to the present moment. In the performance where the momentary mood changes are going to be reflected on the stage in audio and visuals, the artists will see how the next moments' audio and visual will take shape and will be sharing their creation process with and in front of the audience."


Made by an Italian painter and instrumentalist named Luigi Russolo, Intonarumori is a set of box-type instruments that are acoustically being played. Its wheels rattle of bow the strings, while the drum functions as an acoustic resonator, and on its top a lever being used to man the instrument. This handy varies the string tension, and by pulling the lever the tone becomes higher. The horns attached to the boxes amplify the noise being played, hence being called Intonarumori or "Noise Maker."

Envisioned as an instrument of the future, Russolo wanted its listeners to hear the sounds reminiscent of industry, of machines, anything what comes from the future being idealised by many. However, during its presentations it rather resorted to fistfights with the audience, and its instruments Russolo himself had created were destroyed during the Second World War if not disappeared.

But regardless of its past, what Russolo did was a showcase his "followers" would dare to replicate his work. As he said:

"At first the art of music sought purity, limpidity and sweetness of sound. Then different sounds were amalgamated, care being taken, however, to caress the ear with gentle harmonies. Today music, as it becomes continually more complicated, strives to amalgamate the most dissonant, strange and harsh sounds. In this way we come ever closer to noise-sound."


It's been few years ago when these instruments hath been shown at the Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. These instruments people may ought to describe first as strange, were mostly made out of anything metal in which he personally fashioned and turned into something that creates an artful noise.

Yes, an artful noise that made some, if not most dare to see its wonder in his concerts. Like the creator of Yaybahar, he fuses the acoustic and the digital. But most people rather look at the gears, mixing bowls, utensils and door handles that made up his string instruments.

But behind showing his instruments was his fatal accident in which the proceeds being used for his recovery. Prior to his accident, Lirio Salvador is one of the personages in the experimental music scene, but most people made him known for his instruments he had created and played.

Salvador is also a member of the band Elemento, and he is dedicated to producing/ re-producing experimental sound compositions. His band makes use of his sculptural assemblages as well as home-made synthesizers shown during events both in the Philippines and in Abroad.

And according to a writeup from "The Drawing Room", it stated that:

"Unlike many haphazard others whose techniques match his, he is the rare few who can ever achieve a refined finish. His fascination with possibility is childlike, but his production is sophisticated. The beauty of his works does not end here. Because they are made up of various materials and disciplines, they can never remain closed up. The ingenuity lies in the unfinished nature of his works. In their capacity to accommodate more objects, more creative fusion, there is more gold to be made."


Made by a Colombian musician and peace activist Cesar López after seeing a soldier carrying a rifle like a guitar, the Escopetarra is an instrument that is made out of a decomissioned weapon (specifically rifle) being turned into a stringed instrument (hence its name that means rifle-guitar). In its appearance as a rifle with strings, it is an example of a "sword to ploughshare" approach, with its creator stressing the importance of peace through music.

Quite deadly indeed at first for someone to see that instrument made out of a decomissioned gun: be it a shotgun, carbine, or a Kalashinov that made Escopetarra familar with, yet instead of firing bullets like any other rifle, it 'fires' melodies through its strings, unleashes a barrage of creativity like any other guitar, especially if the ones playing plays the sound of freedom.

Famous personalities like Carlos Santana, Shakira, and even Tenzin Gyatso (the Dalai Lama), were also given Escopeteras with the same intention of promoting swords to ploughshares, as well as peace through music. The first expression from these personages would be surprising especially in seeing a stringed instrument made out of a decommisioned weapon, but the intention is clear enough such as promoting peace and love the way its creator tries to invoke after what he had sought. However, as for the Dalai Lama's, a member of his staff rejected López's offer, citing the inappropriateness of giving a weapon as a gift.

But still, what López did is for the cause of peace such as a gun used for strumming and not for firing.


Created for the Icelandic musician Björk for her Biophilia project, the Gameleste is a custom instrument that was created by the British percussionist Matt Nolan and the Icelandic organ craftsman Björgvin Tómasson. There it also crossed both east and west by incorporating gamelan-like bronze bars in a celeste housing.

To those who heard for the first time such as in this post, the Gameleste's sound may mistaken for a music box if not a carillon. But instead of chimes or bells, the bronze bars serves as its percussion. And if this writer may ask these creators, are the Indonesians whom appreciated their Gamelan music also knew about how their traditional instruments served as inspiration for that kind of keyboard? 


 There are more examples to show in this writeup, but this writer chose to limit it instead to five. But despite its limit would say that the instruments being shown in this post reflects the creator's imagination and willingness to promote no matter how strange it is. That, despite most people having no time to appreciate things different yet artsy, there are some rather than few who those who have enough time to see, hear, as well as appreciate or criticize the instruments these artists featured had offered. 

And based in other writeups that also featured these instruments, People had criticized Björk for her eccentric moves and appearance, yet they appreciate her instrument such as the Gameleste. The Yaybahar, in spite of its folksy appearance as an acoustic instrument had made people amaze by its sound reminiscent of a synth, so is the Escopetarra in which despite its original purpose as a gun, it turns out to be an instrument of peace as a guitar. There are even those whom had afford to revisit and even revive whose originals being swept during the war such as Russolo's Intonarumori, yet instead of fistfights as what Russolo experienced decades ago comes curiosity and interest especially in the industrial music scene, that somehow means vindication to his craft as an artist; while the instruments of the Philippines' own Lirio Salvador, that once being displayed at Vargas Museum years ago did help in the recovery of the artist from his accident thanks to the proceedings and the donations brought by friends and those whom concerned. 
That actually, this writer had once made an article about those instruments after what he had sought, that he also paid a ticket to see his creations vis-a-vis only to found his resourcefulness, imagination, and talent both in visual art and in music.

But since most people knew how their creativity made these things happen, these creators also carries an intention such as to counter the current whose sound fails to meet art. As most treat music for nothing such as crass lyrics and crappy melodies, there are those whose imagination provides link, if not fusion with different culture, convention, or era. That somehow Björk's Gameleste, Görkem's Yaybahar, and Liro Salvador's series of Sandatas tries to invoke with.

Perhaps there are other musicians willing to do so just like this writer stated, but most chose to confine it in their imaginations rather than making it come true.