We contributed two live performances to Couch by Couchwest 2014 this year...
"Spot for the Dragon," from our album Modal Creatures.
Here's something from the lighter side of Twang Darkly -- new music from ongoing recording sessions, featuring the acoustic gourd, some old fashioned mountain dulcimer, and bit of oil can guitar. All made just so , of course, with the righteous Joel and Troy rhythm section. Twang keeps the new music coming!
The percussion instrument Troy's playing in this one is a pine tongue drum I built with my father back in the 80s!
"Delving" is a tune from my 2008 album Dulcimers Are Go, that I've never played live before, as it was originally performed on chromatic strumstick, a rather quiet instrument for which I have no good amplification. Since it's kind of a fun tune that I miss, in the lovely and haunting Mixolydian Flat 6 mode, I decided recently to drag it out and start performing it with Twang (updated -- 2/22/2014 -- I remixed the video and recording with their parts).
It turns out to work pretty well on my electric chromatic dulcimer, I think...
So I spent some time getting the gourds in actions tonight on a new composition, "Martian Archaeology." It's a weird place to go with a dulcimer, in that it's a modal take on the whole-tone scale.
The flute used at the end of the tune is a whole-tone bamboo model built for me by Fantasy Flutes.
Here's the debut of the newest instrument constructed here at Twang R&D -- the chromatic gourd dulcimer.
I've been using my electric chromatic dulcimer (also used in this video) for a while now, and it needed an acoustic friend for recording. Building an acoustic instrument is quite a bit more work than a basic electric, but the sound of this new one, with it's lovely white ash top, has more than rewarded the effort.
Here are a few construction snaps. I call her Moya, by the way. Some of you will know why.
Inspired by Clifford West's artful documentation of Harry Bertoia's sculpture, I recently visited Twang-friend and artist Steve Zihlavsky to film some of his abstract artwork.
The footage I garnered made a perfect companion piece to Joel's abstract drone piece "Skinwalker," from Modal Creatures. Joel created the original bed of sound here on 4-track cassette recording of layered accordion and Freeze Pedal guitar; Troy and I layered up some extra stuff including charango, bass guitar, electronic drums several months later for an unusual Twang paste-up.
Chock full of dulcimer, gourd, and flute goodness, our epic new album Modal Creatures is ready for you! At 16 tracks, it features 52 minutes of new music.
It's available in download and CD editions.
Your purchase supports original music, and will also provide you some fine music for chillin', ridin', grillin', or any of those other things you do while diggin' tunes! We didn't Kickstart or Indiegogo this album; we just went ahead and made it! It's a real product today, and you can have it!
I recently did a major overhaul on the old "gourdtar," my homemade electric gourd dulcimer / laps steel thing. It needed a new pickup and bridge, but it's original design wasn't too friendly to further modification. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a saw, a couple of cigar boxes, and some wood glue, though.
The flute in this video was built by Das of Fantasy Flutes -- I recommend checking his work out if you're into flutes. This particular flute is set up to play a westernized interpretation of a Japanese Hirajōshi pentatonic scale (a Japanese koto tuning based on shamisen music). Das calls it the "double-minor" flute.
The tune appears on our 2013 album, Modal Creatures.
Here are a few snaps from the operation:
The instrument now has a nicer acoustic sound than it did previously. On the down side, the soundboard has a bit of an edge that makes it less comfortable to play the previous ergonomics... Perhaps an banjo-styla arm-rest may be it's future...