Our tubulum is created from PVC tubes and is quite possibly one of the more conventional instruments in our orchestra. The tubes are of different lengths corresponding with notes, much like a church organ. The longer the tube, the deeper the tone. The instrument is played with modified table tennis paddles. The playing technique is very similar to a xylophone. The tubulum has tonal stability and can be trusted for range and pitch in our arrangements. Jørn Lavoll is playing the tubulum in the photo above.
THE MAGIC HARP
The magic harp is a plastic tube with nylon fishing line strings attached vertically around it. We found that the instrument could not be tuned in a proper scale, so we decided it would be our magic instrument, as the tuning changes from day to day. You could say it sounds out of tune, but we say that gives a characteristic fragile sound. It is placed on a cylinder which lights up every time the magic harp is played. Annlaug Børsheim demonstrates it, here.
THE PERCUSSION STATION
In the performance you will find a big variety of percussion instruments. Everything from big bass drums to the smallest percussion pieces. All made from a variety of garbage, leftover construction materials and plastic pieces you would find in every home. We’ve also experimented with hanging all kinds of plastic objects and some of the things that we’ve chosen were specifically for their percussion sounds. Items like plastic cutlery, small duplo animals, a specific type of plastic cup and cola bottles inflated with air. Musician Terje Isungset sits with his feet in a big bucket of lego to make the HiHat effect.
THE SLIDE GUITAR
As work progressed, we found that we needed some higher pitched instruments as well. The tubulum, drums, didgeridoo and traffic cones covered the deep tones, thus the idea of using strings for melodic nuance was born. The slide guitar is composed of a PVC pipe and leftover guitar parts, creating a fairly playable instrument. We experimented with tuning and decided on thin strings to accommodate the rather soft pipe and prevent warping. Here it is played by Annlaug Børsheim.
The big bass drums give an impressive visual effect and create disturbing, deep bass tones. We found these big tubes in leftover materials at construction sites. We were delighted by their size. We play the bass drums with toilet brushes, which is one of the few things in this performance that are not recycled. Other drums are constructed of buckets or smaller tubes and their drum skins are made of different types of tarpaulin or transparent tape. Bodil Lunde Rørtveit shows us how it’s done.
THE WATER ORGAN
Our water organ is physically quite demanding to play. We pump air out of big bales utilizing pure muscle power. The air is pushed through four PVC tubes. The harder we play, the higher in pitch the pipes sound. The splashing sounds from the water are also part of the music, and in the show we had microphones aimed at the organ pipes and the bucket of water. We also have a vent mechanism controlling the airflow, so we can choose which of the pipes to play. Playing the instrument this way requires two people, one to pump and one to operate the vents. The sound of the organ is surprisingly beautiful and its constant drone creates a dreamy atmosphere. Jørn Lavoll and Magnus Brandseth perform with it, here.
The didgeridoo is originally an ancient instrument from the aboriginals in Australia. We constructed them from long plastic pipes. Again, the tone changes when you change the length of the pipe. Ours are in the tone of A and E. The lowest octave E requires an enormous amount of air. You also have to use advanced circular breathing to make the continuous drone, so our musician Magnus Brandseth had a lot of work to do.
THE TUBE CELLO
The tube cello was originally a prototype for what later became the magic harp, but we liked it so much we kept it as a separate instrument. The sound is brittle and rich in overtones, making the cello a rather difficult beast to manage. But it also opens up some very interesting possibilities. The sounds range from deep, woody tones like an upright bass, to squealing screams of mercy when played with a bow. Annlaug Børsheim shows us her technique, here.
THE TRAFFIC CONES
We were looking for something that could direct the sound towards the audience, alike the bells of a tuba or trumpet. The answer came when the designer was riding her bike home and found some broken traffic cones at the side of the road. After this, we looked for traffic cones everywhere. Once we started looking, we realized they were everywhere! We tried to make a tuba out of plastic tubes and cones in many different ways. In the end, we chose a simple version: each cone is attached to a plastic tube cut in lengths that produces a specific tone when played with a plastic tuba mouthpiece. When we started experimenting with these cone-tones, we discovered that they were perfect for singing through to create sad whale songs. Here Magnus Brandseth shows us how it’s played.