Since we do not have audio files from sound sculptures using this mounting system exclusively, let’s consider 6 double rods from the Baschet original Chollet A, presented on the Multitimbral Settings examples.
Oscillator: six doubly clamped rods, coupled by iron plates on the free ends. The front rods are 5 mm in diameter with weights formed by washers fixed with nuts. The rear rods are 6 mm in diameter.
Activation: Percussion on the weight washers.
Radiator: three cardboard cones.
Gamut: a consonant sequence, close to G, B, C, E, G, C (all of them sharp-ish), that can be heard as a C major arpeggio with the major 7th. The spectrum shows inharmonic overtones but also shows an octave on each of the root tones, increasing the clarity of the tonal quality, and also offering a distinctive sound, brighter and sweeter, more melodious than any other clamped rod mounting.
Resonators: Most of the other rods and two strings are tuned to the same tonality, so they add resonance and prolong the sound of the double coupled rods. Two springs add reverberation.
You can hear more examples of double rod settings in the multitimbral section of this presentation, in the audio files of Chollet A and our après-Baschet Axolotl Multitimbral Percussion.
Doubly Coupled Rods
Pairs of rods connected by a plate at their free end with one weight along the front rod
This system was invented by the Baschets in 1956 under the name Percussion with dead weights and is the system used in chromatic Cristals, denominated by the brothers as an N-Fitting, as opposed to a Straight Fitting (just a glass rod attached to a threaded clamped rod) or the L-Fitting (a threaded rod with a glass rod attached and a plate on the free end for more tuning accuracy). The N-Fitting is even more accurate and stable for precise tuning, allowing us to tune semitone sequences without interference between them. In this adaptation of the N-Fitting for percussive activation, the glass rod is replaced by a weight, usually in an antinodal region of the rod.
This setting is similar to the other clamped elements we have seen thus far, but the limits imposed by the weight and the connection between the two rods implies an even more complex system.
We know that a clamped rod oscillates in a complex, inharmonic way, and it can oscillate in different directions. By coupling two rods to a flat plate on their free end, this setting creates a new boundary condition, redirecting the vibration along the axis determined by the plate. The movement is much more restricted than clamped rods with free ends, and yet somehow the rod with the weight behaves more like a very thick string fixed at both ends.55 The N-fitting is incredibly useful due to its ability to achieve precise and stable tunings in chromatic gamuts.
It wasn’t until 2005 that Bernard Baschet, in collaboration with Marc Antoine Millon, created a customized two-octave chromatic percussion instrument using this mounting system. To have achieved a timbrally-coherent system with such clear pitch articulation – spanning two full octaves – in a percussion odontophone is a significant accomplishment.
Figures 59 and 60. Percussion for Marc Antoine Millon and detail of the doubly couple rods with weights (2005). Unknown photographer. Bernard Baschet’s personal archive. (Ruiz 2015).
Figure 61. Detail of Chollet A. Unknown photographer. Bernard Baschet’s personal archive. (Ruiz 2015).