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HORNS



HORNS


I rarely go more than a few weeks without making some kind of whistle or horn. Wind instruments, involving lungs, mouth, and hands, are the most personal, the most physically expressive, of instrumental families. No two players will ever sound exactly alike. Single reed instruments produce sounds sonically similar to that of the human voice.

Each horn, no matter what its scale turns out to be, has a song of some sort in it. (Once they've been "carved in steel" the choices are to scrap them or find a use for them.) I came up playing alto saxophone and I often want music to have wind in it, particularly non-vocal music.

3/4 in copper pipe connectors fit clarinet mouthpieces. For me this was a very fortunate happenstance. I've tried making my own mouthpieces without very much success. I still hope to do this.
Different spacings of holes (limited by finger spread) and groups of holes obviously effect the scales the instruments play. Moving away from the standard placements has introduced me to scales I might never have thought up.
The horns made from threaded pipes can be lengthened and shortened to change their scales, or turned upside down. For instance, one that would produce a six or seven note octave scale could be lengthened to produce six or seven lower tones in the range of a fourth or a fifth.
It is also possible to convert reeds to flutes or flutes to reeds by switching the headjoints. Woodwind style instruments don't convert successfully to lip buzzed style ones, but the reverse can work.
Another advantage of the steel pipes is that the toneholes can be filled in with weld to raise their pitch or eliminate them completely.

Since the pitches are fixed I generally tune the stringed instruments to accomodate them, but working the other way happens as well.

Iíve learned a lot from making music out of strange and / or fragmentary scales. Sometimes only two or three out of six or seven tones are useful in a given situation and this has led me to explore non-scalar melodic relationships, emphasizing placement and attack, function instead of embellishment. My tendency, from exposure to traditional western instruments, was to use speed and harmonic density to create melodic shapes. I've discovered playing four-hole reed pipes that there's a lot one can do with a tetrachord (even a very strange one). Recently I've been thinking more about the rhythms and inflections of speech in regards to melody. And about birdsong as well.
Some of the older horns (those featured on Rumor for example) remain (largely for sentimental reasons) as I originally made them, but the newer ones tend more to be groups of adapted elements, assembled for a particular situation. To name them would be silly, they'll most likely assume different forms at different times.

 

 

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