Category Archives: art

Make it to The Makers Fair This Weekend

5th Annual Humboldt Makers Fair, Saturday August 1, Old Town Eureka

humboldt makers fair

This Saturday, August 1st, I’ll perform at the 5th annual Humboldt Makers Fair.  This event celebrates Humboldt’s DIY culture and creative self-expression.  The streets will be lined with booths for local artists and craftspersons to show off their talent and sell their unique products.  The festival also includes entertainment on two stages.

humboldt makers fair

I will begin the entertainment with a performance on electric didgeridoo….

photo credit bob doran

Photo by Bob Doran

 from 12 noon to 1pm in front of the Romano Gabriel exhibit on 2nd St.

romano-gabriel-wooden-sculpture-garden-

and then I’ll play again, from 2-3pm in front of the Gazebo in Old Town Eureka.

gazebo old town

I’ll scare the pigeons away

You can also hear Dogbone,

dogbone

Cliff Dallas and the Death Valley Troubadors,

cliff dallas dvt

Kindred Spirits

kindred spirits

The John David Young Conspiracy,

john david young conspiracy

Companion Animal,

companion animal

…and many more.

I hope to see you there.


Making Dots in Shelter Cove

bird a1 This past weekend, I participated in an art workshop for kids in Shelter Cove. The event was sponsored by SCARF, and held at the “Community Clubhouse” right next to the airstrip and the golf course. I have no idea what SCARF stands for, Shelter Cove Arts and Recreation Foundation is my best guess, but whatever their acronym means, they have some pretty cool stuff going on in Shelter Cove. kanga snakes ct1 cp Any kid could attend the workshop, free of charge. They served free pizza and juice boxes, and SCARF provided all of the art materials, including an envelope full of take home art projects for each kid. Paige Wygant led the workshop, all about painting with dots.

paige wygant dot painting workshop crop

Paige Wygant leading dot painting workshop

She showed the kids some Australian aboriginal dot paintings, and talked about some of the symbols and colors they use in their art. dot painting She also brought a poster of the famous painting by Georges Seurat: Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and talked about pointillism and impressionism. Georges_Seurat_-_A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte_--_1884 Paige invited me to to the workshop to play the didgeridoo and talk a little bit about it. I’m always happy for the opportunity to play for people, but until now, I’ve never done an educational presentation about the didgeridoo. I play the thing because I like the way it sounds. I don’t really know much about the culture that spawned it. As soon as she told me about it, I knew I wanted to do it because I wanted to learn to paint with dots, so I had to put together a presentation about the didgeridoo.

didge presentation sc2

photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

I’ve never been to Australia, but I have a library card, and occasional access to the internet, so I looked some stuff up. The kids ate it up. Kids love the didgeridoo. It really speaks to them, and kids are especially open to it. I started by playing a bit, and that immediately got their attention.

didge presentation sc3 crop

photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

After a little opening jam, I told them that music was probably older than words, and that before we had language, people communicated through music. That set the tone for a talk that was more about our shared musical heritage, of which I know a little, than about Australian aboriginal culture, about which I know almost nothing. It went over OK.

didge presentation sc5

Photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

I explained that the fossils we find from prehistoric humans are usually made of rock or bone, and that a wooden didgeridoo or a wood and skin drum would decompose rapidly, so we have very little fossil evidence of early musical instruments, but the didgeridoo was undoubtedly one of them. I explained that although we think of the didgeridoo as an Australian instrument, we know there must have been something like a didgeridoo in our distant cultural past, because we have instruments like trumpets and trombones and tubas. Those instruments must have evolved from something like a didgeridoo. Makes sense, right? I played a little more. The kids seemed to buy it.

didge presentation sc4 crop

Photo courtesy of Paige Wygant

Then I told the story of how the instrument got its funny name. This is a true story, and it surprised me to learn it. The term “didgeridoo” was coined by a guy named Herbert Basedow writing for Smith’s Weekly magazine in 1925, who published the following sentence: “The aborigine has no music in him, save for the infernal didgeridoo, which makes but one sound didgery, didgery, didgery, ad infinitum.” Didgeridoo_player I explained that this was a mean-spirited and untrue thing to say, and that the British were not very nice to the aboriginal people. I told them that the aboriginal people have lots of music, and that they can do things with music that we can’t. I told them that the aboriginal people know how to use music as a GPS device, or like a map, and that they use songs to find their way around. I swear! I saw it on a Discovery Channel documentary. I found it in a book too, but hey, if anyone wants to straighten me out about this, I’d love to hear from you. arunachala I played a little more to remind the kids that didgeridoo music sounds pretty cool, and to gracefully change the subject. I told an aboriginal dreamtime story of how the instrument was created. NOT the one about the giant’s penis. I found a family friendly didgeridoo creation story without any reference to genitalia. I’ll save it. I played a little more, and then talked about how to play the instrument, and played one more piece to finish. A whole room full of kids sat quietly and listened for half-an-hour, so I guess it worked. cu2 Then it was time to paint! square crop2 They gave each kid a nice canvas panel that Paige had prepped for them. Some panels just had a background coat, and some, for the younger kids, had a cool kangaroo design marked out on them. kangaroo4 The older kids, including me, I was the oldest kid in the class, by 40 years or so, picked from a selection of Australian themed designs and transferred them, with a pencil and graphite paper, to the canvas. We used fabric paint, which comes in little plastic squeeze bottles perfect for squeezing out tiny drops of paint. snakes3 I had a lot of fun painting with dots, and so did the rest of the kids. Paige did a great job, and I applaud SCARF for helping to make it happen. cu1 Thanks to them, I have a new shtick: didgeridoo presentations for kids. If you’ve got a room full of kids and you need to kill some time, give me a call. dot cartoon1


SAMF 2015

SAMF-2015 poster

I really didn’t intend to write about this, but I ran into Randy Clark, the drummer for the Garberville Town Band recently, and he recounted his horror story about trying to unload his drums at Summer Arts and Music Festival this year. He said it was the worst experience he’s ever had at SAMF. I had to concur. When I told him my story, he recommended I write it up and send it to Jimmy Durschlag who was handling this responsibility for the Mateel Community Center.

mateel sign

Cool, I thought, Jimmy’s a musician. He’ll understand. So, I wrote this letter to Jimmy Durschlag, who plays in at least three bands, hosts two radio shows on KMUD, and is now apparently, the designated shit-catcher for the Mateel too.

Shit-Catcher-Job

It turned into a kind of a long letter. I’m sure he’s got nothing better to do. Now that I’ve gone to the trouble of writing it, it seems like a pretty good blog post. Since I haven’t got anything better for you this week, here ya go.

here-ya-go

To: Jimmy Durschlag
From: John Hardin
Re: SAMF 2015

Hi Jimmy,

I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but…

a big deal1

Amy and I arrived at SAMF right around 5pm for our 9pm gig in the Belly Dance Tent. We anticipated parking complications, so we arrived early with a positive and flexible attitude. The first person who approached our vehicle on our arrival informed us that we wouldn’t be allowed on-site until 30 minutes before our stage time. OK, whatever, we still needed to check-in. I was finally able to convince them to let me into the temporary lot.

Let-me-in

At check-in they told me I wasn’t on the list. Not at all. No one by that name, no one listed in that time-slot. Sorry. An oversight, I’m sure. I explained that I was listed in the program guide, and offered to show it to them, but luckily, someone we knew, Kelley Lincoln was there to vouch for us, so we got our wristbands.

not on the list1

I asked about load-in, and got the same story I heard from the parking guy, that they would not let us take our truck on-site until 30 minutes before our stage time. I asked if we could leave the truck on-site while we played. The answer was “No.” I asked if I could go unload early so I would have time to find someplace to park off-site, and then walk back. That answer was “No.” At that point I began to think: “Maybe they have enough entertainment at this festival. Perhaps we should go home.”

maybe we should just go home

So, we drove back to Garberville, with all of our gear, to weigh our options. I was booked as John Hardin Electric Didgeridoo, but Amy was going play Theremin and sing a few tunes as well. All together, it’s not ton of gear, but it’s more than we can schlep in one trip. It’s always fun to bring out the Theremin, even if it is a bit unpredictable, and Amy and I have some good material that we do together, but, through a decent sound system, I sound amazing, all by myself. I have more than enough material to fill the set. We opted to leave the Theremin and its accessories, in the car, parked in G,ville, and the two of us schlepped all of the stuff that I needed to play solo, to the site, via the shuttle bus. It was as much as we could carry and it was awkward to wrestle it on and off of a crowded bus, but we managed to get on-site with enough gear to play a gig.

A bus is driven past a market in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak Province, July 5, 2009.  REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) - RTR25CAL

A bus is driven past a market in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak Province, July 5, 2009. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) – RTR25CAL

At 8:40pm, 20 minutes before the start of my performance, the last troupe of belly dancers finished their set and cleared out, right on schedule. I moved my gear in and started setting up. My rig isn’t super-complicated, but it takes a few minutes to hook it all up and make sure it works. To be heard at all, I needed to play through a sound system, and there was one there, but the sound-person was nowhere to be seen.

meow mix

Sunshine Tresidder, of Lakshmi’s Daughters Belly Dance Troupe, welcomed me to the Belly Dance Tent, as she poured out some rose petals on the ground in front of me. I thanked her for that. Then she proceeded to tell me: “When you’re done, you need to put the tarp up in front of the tent. You’ll have to move these speaker stands back inside the tent, because, you know, if we leave them out, they’re liable to walk away. So, let me show you where we keep the rope that you’ll need to use to hold the tarp up, and there’s this special way that it attaches, and I need to show you how to do it.”

Lakshmi's-Daughters 2015 l

At that point Amy, who, because of the load-in hassle, had nothing better to do, followed Sunshine around, taking note of how we were supposed to close down her tent. This responsibility came as a surprise to us. We did not volunteer for it, and we were not asked to do it, politely or otherwise, but, you know, we’re flexible, positive, helpful people. We don’t like being talked to like unpaid employees, but whatever, it’s a festival and I wanted to play.

I came here to play crop

Still no sound person. I asked Sunshine, as she was walking away, if she knew who the sound person was, and where they might be. She replied: “Oh, she’s gone. I don’t know when she’ll be back.”

aint-no-sandwich-when-shes-gone

At that point I noticed that it was getting dark. I spotted two clip-on utility lights that I assumed were provided for my nighttime performance. I tried to turn one of them on. Nothing. I followed the cord to the end to discover that it was not plugged it. Then, I started looking for an electrical outlet, one for the light, but I also needed one for my music rig. I found myself staring at a 12 channel PA board resting in a puddle of cables.

mess of cables

Every single electrical outlet had something plugged into it, and every single channel of the mixer had something plugged into it. I didn’t want to screw anything up, or mess with someone elses gear, but I was supposed to play through this system in about seven minutes, and I needed some light to see what I was doing.

need some light

In the fading light, I spotted a portable CD player with a wall-wart AC adapter that was plugged into both an electrical outlet, and the PA. I knew that I didn’t need a CD player for my set and figured that I could easily unplug the CD player, from the electrical outlet, to free an outlet for my rig. I also began to think that if I could find the right adapter, I might even be able to tap into the PA through the CD player input, if I had to. Still no sign of a sound person. I was expecting the sound person to provide me with two DI boxes that I could plug a pair of 1/4” phone plugs into, but I saw no DI boxes, and no open channels.

DI boxes

I carry an assortment of adapters. It took me a while to figure out how to make it work. Finally, I made the connection using a 1/8th” female to female stereo headphone adapter. Do you carry a 1/8th” female to female stereo headphone adapter? If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to play.

female to female headphone adapter

Amy figured out how to turn one of the lights on, and I asked her to stand out in front of the house to check the levels.  The volume was good without my having to touch any of the sliders or knobs on the PA. My lucky day! I used my own headphones for monitors and pointed the floor wedges at the audience to prevent feedback.

floor wedges

Then I rocked that place for an hour-and-a-half. I channeled all of the frustration I felt about how we had been treated, into high-energy dance music. The audience got so hot and sweaty that I had to tell them to take a break and get some water because I thought they might hurt themselves.

sweaty dancers

After about a half-hour, the sound-person showed-up. I knew she was the sound-person because she just stood there for a moment, staring at the PA, with a puzzled look on her face. Then she came over and gave me a hug, while I was playing, and said “You’re amazing!”

youre amazing

“That’s looking on the bright side.” I thought. And on the bright side, the sound system must have sounded good because the audience dug it. As a 53 year old man in a committed long-term relationship, I don’t get that many opportunities to get hot and sweaty with a bunch of nubile young women. I think I appreciate that even more now, than I did at 23. I had a great time playing and really enjoyed the time I had to perform.

had fun playing crop

After finishing my set, sweaty and exhausted, I packed-up my gear. Then Amy and I moved the speakers, got out the rope and hung-up the tarp, as we had been instructed, and after that, we schlepped all of my gear back to the entrance to catch the shuttle. It was about 11:00pm by the time we got to the end of the enormous line of drunk people waiting to catch the shuttle back to G,ville. We waited in that line until 12:30, when we finally boarded the bus. That was a long fucking time to wait for a bus. I was scheduled to engineer at KMUD at 8am the next morning, I could have used the extra hour of sleep.

long line

I enjoyed the applause, and making hot young women sweat. I made $50 in tips and CD sales, as well as some nice nugs from appreciative listeners, not a bad gig from that perspective, but sheesh! We had planned to go back to SAMF on Sunday, just to enjoy ourselves, but we were so put off by the way we were treated on Saturday that we decided we didn’t need any more abuse.

no more abuse

That’s what happened to us at SAMF this year. It sucks to have to recount it like this, but I know that you are a musician, and I hope you understand. I don’t expect to be paid, and I don’t even expect to be fed, although that would have been nice, but Summer Arts and Music Festival is supposed to be a celebration of our local art and music scene, and the Mateel is supposed to be a local arts non-profit.

treat plumbers like musicians

If the Mateel does nothing else to help local musicians the rest of the year, they should at least treat us with respect at the one festival each year where they invite us to donate our time, energy, expensive specialized equipment and years of preparation. It is in the Mateel’s best interest to cultivate an appreciation of music within the community, and one way to do that is to set a good example by treating generous local musicians, and their music, with the respect they deserve.

respect

The Mateel makes a lot of money from SAMF these days, and they provide free food, camping, a T-shirt, and admission to the festival for all of their volunteers. As a performer, donating my time and effort, as well as my unique musical expression, all I got was a wristband, and I only got that because I knew somebody at the check-in booth. Festival staff were not at all accommodating to my needs, and instead, we were treated like domestic servants.

treated like servants

Last year, the Mateel treated us very well, and we looked forward to performing again this year. I realize that what happened to us was not intentional, and that everyone involved was doing their best under the circumstances, or at least, just being themselves. Like I said, up front, I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but this seems like an area where there is some room for improvement. Thanks for listening.

thanks for listening

Sincerely, John Hardin

John Hardin electric Didgeridoo

photo by Bob Doran


A Busy Weekend

too busy

This will be a busy weekend for my partner Amy and I.

john and amy

Starting Saturday we will perform on electric didgeridoo and Theremin at the 39th Annual Summer Arts and Music festival at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area.

SAMF-2015-

We are scheduled to perform starting at 9pm in the Belly-Dance tent.

Bellydancers

No, we won’t belly-dance, but you are welcome to. If you haven’t heard us play before, this is a great opportunity. The belly-dance tent has a nice sound system, and we’ll rock the place like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

lets_rock_this_place

I hope to see your bouncing belly-button there.

belly button

Just a few hours later, we’ll be at KMUD’s studios in Redway for Amy’s radio show: The Living Earth Connection.

living earth connection

Amy will read a great monograph by visionary author Daniel Quinn called The Book of the Damned.

book of the damned

The Book of the Damned will change the way you think about culture, civilization and the future. Please listen.

please listen

Then, early Monday morning, I’ll be back at KMUD to engineer Monday Morning Magazine from 7-9AM with host Pat Higgins, after which, I’ll have a new essay to post.

writing gif


The Crackle by Totter on The Adventurous Ear #3

the crackle by totter cov

Really, thus isn’t a music blog, but I can’t say too much about music. Music probably precedes language in human evolution, and I would say that music exceeds language in shaping human culture. We live in a peculiar culture, from that perspective, in that we exalt the more primitive forms of intelligence, that is, language and reason, more than the higher forms like music, art and humor.

intelligences gardners eight types

In other cultures, we would expect our leaders to sing, dance, and play musical instruments. We would expect them to tell jokes and stories. In fact, their duties would include such things, and they would have become leaders by doing those things well. Their passion would speak to us through music. Their truth would resonate in their stories and they would demonstrate their powers of observation, sharp intellect and quick wit though the jokes they told.

tribal leaders dance

Our culture worships the rational mind, the lowest form of intelligence. The rational mind has its place. It helps us secure food. It helps us design traps. The rational mind helps us capture prey. Don’t ever forget that. The rational mind is there to help us turn other beings into lunch. The rational mind is not uniquely human. Chimps have it. Dogs have it. What makes humans exceptional, with regard to the rational mind, is that humans are the most doggedly rational creatures on Earth. Symbolism, abstraction and language became natural extensions of this tactical form of intelligence.

leakey quote

Still, the rational mind is all about stalking and setting traps. We decide legal cases through the adversarial system. Two lawyers argue opposite sides of a case. We assume they are both equally competent at stalking and setting traps, but, we also assume, the truth will favor one side or the other. Political campaigns work the same way. Each side makes an argument, each side attacks the others argument and the people decide at the polls, who they thought was more convincing. We spend our days trapping each other and being trapped, and we call it “the economy.” The rational mind is constantly setting traps, and constantly falling into traps. That’s why you should never trust reason when it comes to making big decisions.

ViolentPoliticalRhetoric

When it comes to making big decisions, you need to know what you love, because the closer you are to what you love, the happier you are going to be. I love music. I know a lot of people do. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no rational explanation for it, but I feel very strongly about music, and not just music in general, although I like music in general. Some music I like a LOT more than other music.

music-time quote frank-zappa

Some music takes some getting used to, and all music takes a few listens to appreciate, but it’s worth the effort, because the more you know about what you love, the more you know about who you are, and what you are doing here. This Thursday I have the rare opportunity to share with KMUD’s listening audience a new album that I really love. I realize that listening is something of a lost art, but it is such a rewarding exercise. I do hope you’ll listen.

lost-art-of-listening

On Thursday May 28th at 5pm KMUD will air the third installment of my new radio series called The Adventurous Ear.

the adventurous ear

This time The Adventurous Ear listens to The Crackle, the latest album from Totter.

totter the crackle-horz

I met Totter at a Summer Solstice gathering at Heartwood a couple of years ago. I played didgeridoo at the opening of the event and Totter played sax and flute with the headline act whose name escapes me. I think he was the only guy at the event with a beard longer than mine. We exchanged CDs. It was a weekend of New Age, spiritual, vegan bliss. When I got home, I put on The Crackle. Wow!

Totter Todd at House of Blues, Chicago

Totter Todd at House of Blues, Chicago

There is not one bit of New Age vegan bliss in The Crackle at all. The Crackle is dark and bloody and hard. It was like watching a horror movie after church. Definitely not what I was expecting, but it blew me out of the water. Great playing, terrific lyrics, astounding vocals and gripping music that doesn’t let up. An hour later, I’m shaking off a cold sweat, hoping this album doesn’t give me nightmares.

totter white face

This isn’t music to liven up your party, though a few cuts could work that way. This is an album to listen to from start to finish. Totter has taken the pains to weave a rich tapestry of musical artistry that is well worth your precious time. Take the time to appreciate Totter’s dark portrait of Gothic Americana, and celebrate it for the masterful work of art that it is.

totter2

You can hear a 28 minute preview of The Crackle, along with snippets of an interview I did with Totter about the album, last month at KMUD’s studios in Redway. Totter is a local SoHum guy, at least part of the time. His music keeps him traveling, but I see him around town from time to time, and he was gracious with his time for the interview. I think the show came out great, and I’m really excited to present it. I hope you’ll tune in. That’s Thursday May 28th at 5pm on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio for The Adventurous Ear, featuring The Crackle by Totter.

Click this link to hear an mp3 of the show right now.

and visit www.tottertodd.com for more about Totter and his music


A Springy Bass and the Humboldt Horn

big horn

People seemed to like the Harp Project last week, so I thought I’d lay a couple of my other new homemade instruments on you.

homemade creations

I built this electric bass from a hunk of 2×4 I extracted from a shipping pallet, and the cast-aluminum housing from a long-dead car-stereo amplifier.

DSC_0021

This bass uses vibrating springs, salvaged from expandable curtain rods, instead of strings, and additional sympathetic springs, concealed within the body, increase the instrument’s resonance.  More springs attached to the outside of the body increase the instruments sonic potential.

DSC_0028

This bass has two piezoelectric pickups, one designed to pick up vibrations from the long springs stretched over the neck of the instrument, and a second that allows the body of the instrument to be played like a drum. A single potentiometer allows the player to balance between the two.

DSC_0025

It’s really a very crude device. I had a lot of trouble getting decent sound to video, and I’m just beginning to explore what this instrument can do, but compared to, say a washtub bass, I think this instrument has a lot of musical potential.

I feel strongly about working with salvaged junk. I hate to see the natural world sacrificed to produce disposable consumer crap, but one distinguishing characteristic of our time is this abundance of exotic materials that would have been unbelievably rare, or completely non-existent only 100 years ago.

junk

We live in an age rich in garbage. All of the earth’s natural beauty, and life-sustaining abundance, has been ravaged, transformed, consumed, abandoned, and discarded. There it is, our stolen future, on the curb, in the rain, free for a generation of dumpster-divers.

dumpster-dive

Here in Humboldt County, this black poly-pipe waterline grows wild in the woods. I find it everywhere, along with chicken-wire, buckets, flower pots, tarps, water tanks, soil bags and worse.

pot grow garbage 1

These woods are strewn with the detritus of thirty years of guerrilla growing, including enough abandoned poly-pipe waterline to reach a grow on Mars. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Prohibition may soon end, but the miles of black poly-pipe in our forests will last forever.

black poly pipe

“Let it sing.” I say.

singer

I made the Humboldt Horn out of waterline and a flowerpot.

DSC_0044

I cut the mouthpiece off of a cracked and discarded vuvuzela I found while cleaning up a property in Ettersburg. I reinforced it with a bit of electrical tape, and adapted it to fit the horn.  vuvuzela

I can vary the range of the instrument by substituting longer or shorter lengths of waterline. The flowerpot acts as a resonance chamber, and has an omnidirectional microphone mounted inside.

DSC_0047

Because the flowerpot is turned upside down and rests on the ground, the instrument is very quiet, but the microphone inside the flowerpot provides a strong signal to drive amplifiers, effects and/or recording equipment. While not particularly attractive, I find the Humboldt horn both expressive and versatile as a musical instrument. Give it a listen.


The HARP Project

haarp-facility

Many Americans, as well as millions of people around the globe have expressed their outrage at the top-secret experiments taking place at a US military base in Alaska. This nefarious program, code-named “The HARP Project,” builds on the groundbreaking work of Nicola Tesla, and seeks nothing less than complete control of global weather patterns through the use of high-frequency electromagnetic fields.

tesla

The HARP Project utilizes an enormous antenna array, and transmitters capable of pumping millions of watts of radio-frequency energy into the stratosphere. These transmissions create changes in the Earth’s ionosphere that extend around the globe, and the amplitude of these signals distort the shape of the atmosphere, and effect the Earth’s magnetic field.

haarp Strange_Clouds

The HARP Project remains shrouded in secrecy,

haarp_1a warning

…but this week, the LYGSBTD Center for Investigative Reporting acquired exclusive, TOP-SECRET video footage that reveals, for the first time, exactly how it really works. This video reveals the exact frequencies of operation, resonance gradients, harmonic characteristics, and radiation patterns of the energy field transmissions. This video allows viewers to see, and hear for themselves, the effect these energy fields have on the atmosphere. WARNING: This two-and-a-half minute video will change your life FOREVER!!!!!!

See, you are now two-and-a-half minutes older, and you’ve seen the newest addition to my growing collection of crude musical instruments made out of junk: The HARP Project. Technically, a musicologist would remind us, this instrument is a lyre, but I’ve called this instrument “the HARP Project” from the moment I conceived of this contraption, and I’ve only subsequently learned of the subtle difference between the two. For the record, a harp has only three sides, while a lyre has four.

harp_to_lyre

The voice of this instrument emanates from an aluminum bundt cake pan I found lying in the mud while cleaning up a property in Ettersburg. I knocked the mud out of it and tapped it a couple of times to listen to its ring. I thought it had a pleasant ring, and considered using it as a resonator on the guitar I recently built, but the geometry of the guitar just didn’t work that way.

DSC_0037

Still, I thought this bundt cake pan had a nice ring to it, and realized it would be easy to attach a piezoelectric pickup to it as well, so I started to look at it, and think about how I could best harness its acoustic properties. I checked a few books out of the library, and I looked up some stuff on-line. At some point, I found a picture of a harp made out of a roasting pan. I took note of how it was constructed.

roasting pot harp-559x419

created by Bart Hopkins to see more of Bart’s amazing instruments click this pic

Zither pins. Until this point, my collection of homemade string instruments has been limited by the availability of tuning mechanisms. I once got a music store to sell me a few old guitar tuning machines for a dollar each, but I haven’t come across a deal like that since. Zither pins sell for about a dollar each, new. With zither pins, I could build an instrument with 20 tuned strings, and stay within my budget of $30.

DSC_0031

I built the frame of the instrument from an old shipping pallet, and I found a piece of copper pipe just the right length for the bridge.

DSC_0040

You already know about the bundt cake pan.

DSC_0038

I made the strings out of a spool of stainless steel wire I’ve been carrying around for over a decade.

DSC_0036

The piezoelectric pickup came out of my Bratz brand toy drum machine that worked long enough that you can hear it on my last album, Um… Uh… Gum Eh?, but died shortly thereafter.

bratz drum fingers

I got eight great sounding piezoelectric pickups out of that toy, including this one, and the one in my record breaking guitar.

DSC_0005

I paid one dollar for it. A quarter-inch phone jack and a volume pot with a brushed aluminum knob complete the Harp Project, and make it convenient to amplify or record.

DSC_0030

I really like the way it sounds. Now I have to learn to play it.


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