The Scrapheap Orchestra was a television documentary for the BBC and was shown on BBC Four. I did learned a lot during the whole project and I do look back on it with fond memories. The laughter and then roaring cheer that greeted my clash cymbals is clearly audible in the video and watching it took me instantly back to the roller coaster of emotions that I experienced that night and seeing again the instantaneous and exuberant standing ovation that the performance received (nearly) brought a tear to my eye even after all these years. I am left wondering if those instruments that I made still exist or whether they have been returned to the scrapheap.
According to references [Groves dictionary of musical instruments I think] the number of instruments in the percussion family exceed six hundred. In reality most of the instruments will be closely related and very rare. Furthermore the standard orchestral range of instruments is smaller still. Even so, I work on a broad variety of instruments, and yet I am still asked if I repair guitars or whatever. My brain can hardly cope with all the knowledge associated with my own specialism without taking on other sections of instruments, I will leave those instruments for those instrument makers!
So to demonstrate the diversity of what I do do [hehe], below are all the posts I have written, in chronological, order starting with the two latest (which are featured on the home page) and going backwards into the depths of time.
I often get emails asking for detailed advice on how to make percussion instruments. In this video I share my opinion on hanging tubular bells.
The legs from the top cone continue down to the ground and are tied together with the rails that in turn supports the cityscape. The biggest problem was fitting it in my workshop!
FOR SALE £3500
Made from 1928 to 1951 the Premier De Luxe Tympani was the lagship instrument for Premier Drums. These drums that are for sale are an early example which makes them around 80 years old. In that time they have had only two owners and are therefore in exceptional condition for drums of this age. Currently situated in the South of England, but will be moved to my workshop for viewing by arrangement.
Everything that is recyclable is recycled in my workshop wherever possible. This includes Musser vibraphone frames, which are made from tin foil. Although not suitable for cooking food there are lots of other uses for old tin foil, imagination is the only limiting factor. But then I am a product of my generation who grew up watching a very limited selection of kids TV including Blue Peter which failed to transform my then wayward life unlike Tony Hart who was a genius.
After many attempts both with pen and paper and computer power, I came to the conclusion that it was just too difficult to calculate the exact angles of the legs and I didn’t have time to be messing about, so I jumped right in and started making using my best guesses.
Farmers weekly states that the mental health of farmers is below the intergalactic average due to the boring nature of driving tractors around the same fields year after year. They go on to state that music has proved itself to be the best cure for psychological well being as well as improving fertility. They conclude that the best instruments to learn are percussion because you just hit ’em, plus Musser make stuff that you can easily convert for towing behind your Massive Ferguson.
Some of the footage shown in the introduction video is repeated in the video included in this post, but only a small element. The previous video was edited by Nordic Music Days to satisfy their publicity requirements. Just how do you advertise and promote something that doesn’t even exist? I’ll leave that job for those… Read more »
Nordic Music Days host an annual festival this years theme is the northern Lights. For the first time the event will be held in London at the South Bank Centre. To celebrate this event I have been commissioned to create a new instrument.
Things lead on, one from another. As a result of doing the Scrapheap Orchestra television documentary I was approached to do the Smart Meter project, this in turn led onto being asked to do this project and the next project The Northern Lights. All of these projects I have yet to write the posts for, maybe one… Read more »