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Music From a Bonsai

In the tradition of Harry Partch, whose microtonal scales played on gorgeous one-of-a-kind instruments my son once described as sounding like “space chimps driving a broken car,” Diego Stocco bought a bonsai tree and went at it with piano hammers, bows of various sizes, and a paint brush. And a MacBook Pro. The result is haunting and beautiful.

See also: A Welsh Onion Flute for Trying Times

I always liked bonsai trees, and I was curious to try the approach I used for “Music from a Tree” on a smaller scale, so I bought a bonsai and recorded this little experimental piece.

To determine the key I used the lowest note I could play and recorded the rest around it.
Besides playing the leaves, I used bows of different sizes, a piano hammer and a paint brush.
As far as microphones I used my Røde NT6, a customized stethoscope and tiny MEAS piezo transducers.

I played all the sounds and rhythms only with the bonsai, I didn’t use any synthesizer or samplers to create or modify the sounds. I hope you’ll like it.

More of Stocco’s sessions here.

From → Quick Shots

2 Comments
  1. rinchen permalink

    i love yr son’s description of partch, altho’ ol’ harry might ‘n’ be a bit bemused since he was aimin’ for the supple.

    this performance is a wonder! what a creative use of the stethoscope. the music’s rhythm reminds of Tom Ze.

  2. Scot Hacker permalink

    What, space chimps driving a broken car can’t be supple?

    You’re right about the Tom Ze connection – I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s totally there. They should collaborate. But then again, so should Jack White and Jack Black.

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