Thursday, March 30, 2006

NAMM 2006 Oddities

I found a great link to a website by Barry Wood, who has visited and reviewed products from the Winter NAMM event. On his website he highlights his picks for the best 'oddities' which he finds on the show floor each year.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Kalimba thumbs"

I've benn making several kalimba's in the last couple weeks. One of the side effects of tuning a new kalimba, or even playing the kalimba for a long period of time, is that the keys either give you a blister on your thumbs or it wears the skin thin. This is especially true when the ends of the keys are rough cut and not finished, as during the pretuning of a new kalimba.
So, I went back to a trick that I learned from Stevie Ray Vaughn. That's right I learned this trick directly from the blues master himself. You see in college I worked security for concerts. It was a great way to make some extra cash and get a great spot to hear the music. The evening that Stevie Ray Vaughn was in town, I was given the detail to guard his bus. I got to spend a few minutes with Stevie before the show while we were waiting for the super glue to dry on his fingers. That's right, Stevie played so hard every night on tour that it would literally rip his finger tips apart, so he applied super glue in layers to his finger tips. During the show, it would wear through the super glue rather than his skin.
I tried the same trip for my "kalimba thumbs" and it works great!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Check out ChucK

ChucK is Princeton Universitys: Concurrent, On-the-fly Audio Programming Language.

"what is it? : ChucK is a new audio programming language for real-time synthesis, composition, and performance, which runs on MacOS X, Windows, and Linux. ChucK presents a new time-based concurrent programming model, which supports a more precise and fundamental level of expressiveness, as well as multiple, simultaneous, dynamic control rates, a precise and straightforward concurrent programming model, and the ability to add, remove, and modify code, on-the-fly, while the program is running, without stopping or restarting. It offers composers, researchers, and performers a powerful and flexible programming tool for building and experimenting with complex audio synthesis programs, and real-time interactive control.

You can download ChucK here. There is also another link to the Princeton Soundlab and all of the software created by the soundlab.

I haven't had a chance to download or play with it yet, but I imagine that it's not for the faint of heart. However, Princeton University has a new music ensemble called PLOrk dedicated to using ChucK as a basis for the performance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New BLOG on Frame Drums

I've started a new blog, focused on framedrums, hand drums and middle eastern rhythms. It's at I'll use that blog to post the more dance and middle eastern drumming topics, but I'll still post articles here on the unusual percussion instruments that I run across.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Online directions for building a Conga/Cajon

I discovered some excellent directions online for constructing a conga/cajon. This type of drum has a wooden playing surface. Looks like it will take about 4-5 hours of construction time if you have the right tools.