Early October, 2012 – We have had a bout five days on non-stop sunshine, clear blues skies, and almost no wind – unheard of this year to have such good weather. So, today I went off across the field and into the woods near the river and found two smallish trees to experiment with. One issue has been the strings coming off the bridge, and so last time I was out I tried making an extended bridge from some elderberry sticks – it is pretty primitive, but it works. The problem is, though, that the strings still slip, and when they do it sounds rather dull.

Today I thought about how to get more than two strings working – you need to keep a couple of regular strings on the violins in order to hold the bridge in place. Today i realised that the answer is to float the violin, on an extended bridge, on the four strings. see picture:

Image

It works beautifully, once you get all of the different string tensions and angles right. What really amazed me, though, is the constant aeolian harp affect you hear through the mikes, even though when you’re standing next to the violins you hear almost nothing. I spent an hour or so just listening to the gradually changing harmonics and pitches – I’m going to try and put it up on soundcloud later as just a field recording – needs some eq to really emphasise the harmonics, but sitting in the brilliant sunshine, under a hawthorn tree, with the traffic and building work of Morpeth mumbling in the far distance, it was pretty transcendental!!!

This new approach allows me to put a lot of different wires into the environment, and then, with these extended crude bridges, float the violins on the resonating strings. It is also quite cool to play the strings, not plucking them, but using a couple of twigs to just stroke and tap them – nice ricochet effects, rough bowed sounds, and all sorts of accidental twangs and clicks and bumps.

here’s the recording – it’s a long piece, though, about 25 mins – and quite quiet so you need some volume to hear the details

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