Listening to the demo of Brontosaur, we can observe the disparate timbral qualities of the radically different rod lengths. The rods on the upper side of the gum feature a more cohesive timbre, while the underside’s shorter rods feature more differentiated timbres (similar to Kawakamiphone in the clamped Threaded Rods examples). The video also shows different activations, dragging piano wire to create cascading bright sounds, rubbing with superball mallets on the radiators, and bowing the rods with cello bows.
Bowing the rods creates stationary waves that divide themselves into the harmonic series. The pitch of that stationary wave is one of the natural overtones of the rod, but once that wavelength is stimulated, the wave creates a new subset of harmonic overtones that are not part of the natural overtones of the rod. This counterintuitive behaviour, observed in many sculptures, is promising for future research.
In the video above of Brontosaur we hear two rods being bowed along with Martí Ruiz’s voice. The musical result was artistically desired, but we understand it is confusing to differentiate the voice from the rods, precisely because they are all compound sounds in a harmonic spectrum. To aid the reader’s understanding, we have included the sound of a bowed rod on its own below.
In the spectrogram above we can clearly see the harmonic series generated by bowing one of the rods: the rod is forced to oscillate differently to its natural inharmonic vibrating mode.
Ticklephone DIY kit, circa 1980
Oscillator: 14 round steel rods, 5mm in diameter, each half a meter long.
Radiator: two cardboard cones
Gamut: found xentonal tuning, each side of the gum features asymmetrical lengths. One side features more differences in length, therefore some timbres are also particularly different.
In this mid-size setting we can appreciate the colour emerging from this scale of elements, a fuller, warmer sound than the previous examples. We also appreciate the found tuning: clustery tones with a clear intention for a coherent timbral range design. Shorter rods ring out in their fundamental mode, whereas longer rods vibrate in higher vibrational modes: their overtone ratios differ and therefore produce different timbral colors, some of them more like bells, some of them more like water drops, and other timbres we won’t attempt to describe. The proximity of the rods to one another allows for sweeping strikes that activate all the rods in one quick gesture that creates interesting cascading sounds.
This is an original DIY kit, designed by François himself. The idea for the DIY kits is that everyone can mount (set) the rods in their own way. The gums provided in the kit have holes drilled in them to facilitate the clamping of threaded rods with nuts, but the kit also allows an alternate mounting method: a sandwich gum created by clamping the rods between the two gums.
Round rods with a curled end bolted to a gum
Oscillators: 30 round steel rods of different lengths, curled at their ends and bolted to a round gum.
Radiation: 3 large aluminium cones
Gamut: random pitches created by 30 different lengths placed randomly along the gum, creating a random sequence when played consecutively.
There are at least four different kinds of timbral qualities to be found in Amiens, low and dark, from deeper to shallower, brighter or more opaque, and middle wet bells, some more clustery, some more monodic. These sounds are quite unpredictable and fun to explore.
We have found pictures of Amiens with different rod arrangements to fit the space and the ceilings of different venues in which it was exhibited, so it appears that the Baschets did not define a specific configuration of the rods. It is an invitation and a challenge for the builders and players to find the combinations of sounds that please them the most.
Round rods threaded on one end bolted through to a gum
Oscillators: 19 round rods, 6 millimeters in diameter, threaded on one end and bolted to a semicircular gum. The Katsuraphone also features a set of strings with a tremolo arm and suspended plates not discussed in this presentation.
Activation: percussion, bowing (the semicircular display also allows for bowing)
Radiators: 4 aluminum cones (the other cones radiate the sound of the string set)
Gamut: Each rod has different lengths and different complex sounds, creating a xentonal gamut, with some particular tone clusters that appear to be repeated with different timbral nuances.