Third Coast Percussion is composing a piece for approximately 350 fifth graders, using instruments designed and fabricated by Notre Dame undergraduates. The overall design process is highly interactive, with musical composition and instrument design and engineering tightly intertwined--can we design instruments that over 300 fifth graders can play in tune? We expect the design of both to continue to evolve to a comfortable form for the event.
Here's the basic framework, as explained by Third Coast's Sean Connors:
settled on 4 pervasive pitches: A, C sharp, E, G sharp
piece is going to be basic rhythm or basic texture (loop based material) that
we'll layer in during the larger construct during the piece. Members of
Third Coast will be playing professional versions that reflect the instrument
that the students are playing and will lead the piece. The total length
of the piece will be about 3~5 minutes.
Coast will teach the music to the students aurally (perhaps through some
we'd check in with some specifics about the instruments:
- We've decided for everyone involved that it would be easier to not have
specific pitches. This won't affect the compositional side of what we're
pitches for each log drum. Low pitch and high pitch of each log
drum should be in a fixed range so, collectively, the log drums together have a
low and high (no crossover between instruments). In other words, no high
pitch from a log drum, should be the same pitch or lower than any of the low
log drum pitches.
idea about using the 3D printer fabricated mouthpieces sounds fantastic.
Could the notes be the following: A, C-sharp, E, G-Sharp?
This would form the pitch collection that we're going for.
- We could affix the mouthpiece on four different lengths...we could also
try to put holes in the tubes to make a simple whistle...this would lead to
some fingering problems for the 5th graders, so it might be simpler to have
- How ever creative the
ND students want to get with this, the better!
- Here are some of our ideas so far:
- spherical casing made of plastic, wood, or metal (perhaps all 3 for options)
- casing should be able to open, like
an easter egg, to insert beads
should be of varying sizes and materials. Be creative.
implements needed, just shaken
- these should be made of metal tubing,
3/4" to 1" in diameter, galvanized steel, copper, aluminum or other
resonate for a long duration
- can these
be two pitches per resonating chamber?
- if this
works, can they be paired in the following way:
- A and E
- C sharp
and G sharp
- these can
be in any register
- Chimes need to be mounted horizontally onto a frame. The mounting system should allow the chimes to resonate fully while holding them in place. The students should be able to sit down with the chimes/frame in their laps.
Here are some thoughts about the striking implements (mallets):
- shaft should be 8"- 12" and made out of wood, rattan,
or plastic (more durable is better, but the kids shouldn't be able to hurt each
other with these...no metal please)
- we'd like two options for mallets, soft and hard:
- HARD MALLET: there should be a ball
that could either screw on or glue on; should be made out of something hard,
perhaps 3/4" to 1" diameter rubber or plastic balls...this could
really be anything, even a light wood
- SOFT MALLET: the exact same thing as the hard mallet, but it should be
surrounded by latex (surgical tubing perhaps?) in order to make it have a soft
- to make things easier for the students, it might make more sense to make double sided mallets - one end of the the shaft would have the hard mallet head, the other the soft.
Below is a video made by Peter Martin of Third Coast Percussion with some tips on composing a piece using a software based sequencing program (garage band, cubase, logic, ableton, acid, etc.). This video will hopefully give you some suggestions on experimenting with sounds on your instruments, creating, recording, and editing some short musical motives, and layering them together to create a structured piece of music.
And the final product of this video, the piece of music, is here:https://soundcloud.com/peter-tcp/waves-composition-example