Bent and Curved Rods

Bent and curved rods are a subset application of other mounting systems, being applied to threaded rods and smooth round rods or thick piano wire. In most cases bent rods appear mixed with straight rods, particularly in the case of spirals formed by bending a rod into that shape. Unfortunately, we have no audio of the original pieces from the Baschets' first period of explorations with bent and curved rods.


We can find bent rods in the multitimbral percussion Chollet B, shown in the Multitimbral Settings section of this presentation. Those rods are bent to a 90 degree angle; that change in shape changes the vibrational patterns, as the inertia and limits differ in comparison to a straight rod. 

This modification of shape is a gate to a huge derivative universe of clamped shapes that do not respond to the “simple” geometry of the straight rod, further complicating the already complex vibrational modes. Despite the fact that the Baschets did not extensively explore this path, it is clearly a field for research and amusement. We have personally tried bending rods in several segments for our Dragonòfon piece. We didn’t record a comparison of the sound of rod before and after bending them, but we can tell the natural modes of vibration are modified by the bends. Some interesting questions arise here: Can we learn to control and define different sounds in different directions of oscillations, since the resistance to oscillate will be different in the different planes and orientations of striking? Could this be another way to approach overtone tuning? 

Dragonòfon, après-Baschet, by Roseta MB and Martí Ruiz, 2014

Oscillators: 13 iron-threaded rods of different lengths, 6mm in diameter, bent in three segments, clamped to a wooden gum.

Activation: Percussion.

Radiation: Cheap cardboard cones, held against plastic funnels.

Gamut: Found xentonal tuning.

This piece was made in a short time with a minuscule budget for a participative building activity with children from a modest neighbourhood in Barcelona, celebrating the traditional day of St.Jordi, where lovers give roses and books as presents, inspired by the legend of St. Jordi fighting a dragon. The idea was to engage children in making cheap cardboard speakers shaped like dragon wings, fire flames, or roses, and once the speakers were made, each child attached it, along with a threaded rod, to the wooden dragon-shaped gum. The shape aligned visually to the idea of a dragon, and the sound was never intended to be tuned; we just wanted to have different pitches from each rod, so the children could appreciate the growth of the collective piece and explore the emergent sounds. The gamut was not really analytically developed, but we knew the timbre would be close to many other rods we previously worked with. We haven’t properly analyzed the actual sound output – tuning and overtones – because the educational institution kept the piece for their children to play, and our lives continued by other paths, but we can still appreciate the sonic possibilities of those bent rods, despite the humble wooden gum and modest speakers. Everyone was quite pleased; this project served its purpose perfectly and proved how much we can accomplish with only simple ingredients.    

As the Baschet brothers did in their early years, we have been curling rods and thick piano wires into spiral shapes. We have explored enough to understand that the bending of the shape changes its vibrational modes, deeply influencing the resulting sound qualities, particularly in terms of pitch and timbre. We have witnessed the possibility of re-tuning a spiral by curling and uncurling it. In these more complex geometries, the direction of oscillations play a critical role, since the same coil can oscillate at very different frequencies, depending on the resistance and elasticity in different directions. The research and creative potential, both visually and soundwise in terms of sound sculpture, is extensive and inspiring. Unfortunately, we do not have sound recordings from our new pieces due to the COVID-19 crisis lockdown in our area.

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Figure 78. Spectrogram of short fragment from the Dragonòfon video.

Figure 79. Picture of one of our après-Baschet pieces with curled rods, producing a sound like a low gong. Picture by Martí Ruiz, 2017.

Figure 77. Video recording of Dragonòfon, its participative building process and its sounds. Source: