The Sound Of The Arab Spring In East London

Some of the world’s greatest arabic rappers are stopping off to talk about beats, rhymes and politics in the Docklands.

Definitely worth checking out.


Hacked Sound In Hackney

Gutted I’m going to miss this.

On the 7th of February is running a salon focusing on instrument building in the 21st century:

‘The discussion, which will be moderated by The Wire‘s Deputy Editor Frances Morgan, will examine the aesthetic, political, economic and technological potentiality (and limits) of building or rewiring new sonic tools, as well as exploring the current scene’s links with hacker and DIY culture. As part of the discussion each panelist will demonstrate examples of their own custom built gear.’

Here’s the event’s website:

Definitely worth heading down if you can.

Metallica Get Majored

Former Londoner Song Ming Ang pointed out this gem.

It’s a version of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters digitally reworked with a major scale.

Good chin-stroking material.


America’s Best Classical Violinist Sucks At Busking

The Washington Post has been messing with people’s heads on the subway. As an ‘experiment’ they sent Joshua Bell underground to fiddle for spare change. According to the Post he played his violin well:

‘…it sobbed and laughed and sang — ecstatic, sorrowful, importuning, adoring, flirtatious, castigating, playful, romancing, merry, triumphal, sumptuous.’

Wow. Sounds pretty good. But the problem is busking is about the bottom line – and he only made $32 in 43 minutes. Not great.

But still a very interesting article.

The Incredible Violin Trumpet

I was in Belfast earlier this week, a city that is full of interesting sounds.

One of the interesting noise-makers I came across was this Romanian man playing his ‘Violin Trumpet’. He told me that he made it back in 1982 out of the horn from a gramophone and a broken violin. He was busking in the centre of town. Definitely worth a couple of coins.


Singing, Ringy, Tube Things

Everyone loves a good pan pipe session. But some love whole pipe thing more than others.

Arichitects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu are two such people.

Back in 2006 they made the Singing Ringing Tree, a structure made of pipes welded together that are played by the wind.

It sounds a bit like this: ‘Wooooooo’.

Tonkin & Liu aren’t the only people into welding pipes together.

Eila Hiltunen also banged together a bunch of pipes in her tribute to Sibelius back in 1967. The Sibelius monument in Helsinki also gets ‘played’ by the wind, although this wasn’t a core part of the original plan.

Here’s a video of Sibelius fans swarming all around it:

And the panpipe-public-art-preoccupation doesn’t stop there. Artist Luke Jerram brought his wind powered sound sculpture ‘Aeolus’ to Canary Warf last year.

Another interesting project by Jerram is his ‘Plant Orchestra’. It amplifies the sounds of plants which are usually too quiet to here.

‘Using specialist microphones water can be heard as it flows slowly up the stem of a plant. The sounds created during the day are different to those at night and they alter with the seasons of the year. If trees are suffering from drought, scientists can measure acoustic emissions that occur caused by cavitation and embolism within the plant. ‘

here’s his website about the piece:

Sounds From The Riverbank

It’s been an aquatic couple of week’s on Radio 3’s In Between the ears. This week’s feature offers us the muttered Chinese whispering and drip-dropping of Goodbye Again and Again. It’s an exploration of Xu Zhimo’s ‘Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again’, a poem that all Chinese children are made to recite at school but few in the UK have heard of. This feature offers you insight into Xu Zhimo, and how fits into the wider landscape of Chinese poetry and at the same time offers an insight into how Chinese visitors see English culture.

A fitting followup to last week’s In Between the Ears: The Odyssey of Eels, a squelchy and muddy slide into of the world of eels. “A moonlit night on the River Parrett; James Crowden waits with secretive netsmen for the elver run. Each spring these tiny creatures, glass eels, wriggle in their millions out of the Atlantic. No one can afford to eat elvers now; they are bought live for restocking Europe’s rivers. James eavesdrops on deals struck behind vans as elvers are sold for hundreds of pounds a kilo.”

Reminds me a little of that giant of watery radio, Roger Deakin’s Cigarette on the Wavney: