Welcome to the Outlandish Vibrations podcast. In each episode I will talk about a sound. The sound might be mechanical, natural, electric, acoustic, musical, accidental… or something else. I’m recording the sounds as I go along, so the podcast is somewhat diaristic in nature.
You can listen to the episodes here at josephsanger.com, or:
Here is a link to the RSS feed which hopefully will work, and
Here is a link to my SoundCloud page, where the podcast lives.
This is the latest album by Organ Monkeys, written and recorded in the month of October 2019.
I’ve been making an electric clavichord over the last few months and have recently finished it, although I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it for a while. Above is a short video documenting the process and demonstrating the instrument.
Traditional clavichords have bent key levers so that the equidistant keys can strike the strings at the correct (non-equidistant) points. This was too much for my limited carpentry skills and also my limited toolbox, so I opted for straight levers, angled so that the “playing” ends of the keys converge on points which are approximately equidistant.
The keys are all made from standard pre-cut wood from a DIY shop (I think it’s 8x8mm). The sharps and the little blocks to hold the tangent nails are all made from the same stuff. It turned out that a lot of the wood wasn’t quite square (which explains why it was half price), so some of the sharps poke up at slightly odd angles.
This skewed keyboard is actually not too hard to play, although it would be difficult to scale up much beyond two octaves.
The clavichord has twelve strings and is double-fretted (the C is triple-fretted), which means it has two tangents for each string – the tangent is the metal part on the key which strikes and frets the string. Traditional fretted clavichords were fretted so that rarely played discordant intervals, like minor seconds, were played on the same string. What’s slightly unusual about my design is that each string is fretted on the octave, meaning that any harmonic interval is possible except the octave.
I had a few reasons for designing the keyboard this way. Firstly, as a pianist I play a lot of octaves and I wanted to encourage myself to use more tone colour in chords. Secondly, each string’s tangents are easily worked out by doubling the string length, which means that the skewed keyboard can be arranged more efficiently without keys which are very close together at the top and very far apart at the bottom, as they would be if fretted to play semitones on the same string. Thirdly, and most importantly, the keyboard is easy to retune to different scales and temperaments, which is much harder on a traditional fretted clavichord. Tuning the D string (for example) tunes both of the D’s.
In the DIY shop across the street from me I found a bag of these strange blade-headed nails, I think they are something to do with carpets. They make perfect tangents. I filed the bladed edges down a bit to prolong the life of the strings.
The twelve strings are all the same gauge. My early experiments indicated that an electric guitar D string sounded pretty good over two octaves when tuned at the length I wanted. I went to my local music shop and found a bargain box of half-price strings, including exactly twelve .28’s (quite a heavy D), so I bought the lot.
A while ago, a friend gave me some cheap mandolin tuners, which come in two rows of four. I managed to find the same type and bought another set, then used a hacksaw to saw one of the rows in half so I could have six each side.
During the process of making the clavichord I was talking to a friend about the pickup I was using (a very old humbucker), and the fact that the strings were very variable in volume. He managed to sort me out with a custom-made extra long humbucker pickup, which just sounds fantastic. If you’re in East Anglia and have a problem with a stringed instrument, I can’t recommend him highly enough! Olley Neale guitar setup and repair.
All in all I’m extremely happy with this instrument. I’m going to play it in for a while and see how long the strings last, then think about performing live.
Here’s a one month album using banjo, diddley bow, percussion and looper.
This is a home-made diddley bow. It’s made out of a plank of wood from a shelf, a guitar pickup and three strings. I’m also playing through my home-made looper.
A looper cover of the Johnny Cash classic.
A Song by Joe Blood and the Bleedin’ Noras.
Here’s an instrument I made in the mid 1990s while at Dartington. It’s a set of tuned cylindrical chimes suspended by fishing wire over a wooden tank of water. A foot pedal lowers the chimes into the water, which flattens the pitch.
It was largely successful, but It was extremely heavy, cumbersome, rusty, leaky and unpredictable.
This is the first One Month Album from Organ Monkeys.
This is the second One Month Album from Organ Monkeys.
This is the third One Month Album from Organ Monkeys, and my first foray into electronic music – a sort of proto-Daftberk.
This is the fourth One Month Album from Organ Monkeys. I decided to write a short heavy metal album. Not to be taken seriously.
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
Featuring Joseph Sanger on keys.
This is the trailer for the documentary about Mac Tontoh and his comeback tours in 1999/2000. I was one of the two keyboard players on these tours.
The Joe Blood Looper is made from Csound Code on a 1st-generation Raspberry Pi, a DIY Joystick kit, an old Edirol soundcard, and plywood.
Music video for my brother Duke Slammer’s single “Acid Duke”. Made using cut-paper models and various free Linux tools.
In late 2016 I designed and made a new instrument, a sort of cross between a shakuhachi and a Swanee whistle, partially based on an idea from the excellent Musical Instrument Design by Bart Hopkin. It’s a fairly versatile instrument, though difficult to play (and probably not appropriate for “serious music”). This is a demonstration video.
In August I visited double bass player and old friend Dave Pullin. It was the first time we’d seen each other for nearly a decade, and the first time we’d played together for even longer than that. We talked, drank coffee and improvised music. Here are some recordings from that day.
In Norfolk in the summer of 2017 I found myself playing shakuhachi with a group of very vocal chickens. This recording has not been processed in any way… And no animals were harmed.
Playing a 12-bar blues with myself.
I’ve known the extraordinarily talented Hannah Sanders for as long as I can remember. In the summer of 2017 we found the time to record this together.
The debut live performance of “Brotherhood Of Sang”.
This is an improvised performance with myself on Shakuhachi and my brother Luke on Make Noise modular synthesiser.
This is my arrangement of Erik Satie’s famous Gymnopedie No. 1 for 1.6 shakuhachi (in E) and nylon-string banjo.
Manipulated and frozen oboe quintet composed by Duncan Hendy with shakuhachi by Joseph Myoushin Sanger.