Author Topic: Sheng  (Read 2066 times)

Offline Dr. M

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Sheng
« on: March 12, 2014, 12:14:42 PM »
I know you have a strong interest in ethnic instruments, have you ever played a sheng? I'd never heard of it before, but it's one of the most exciting instruments I've come across. The range and uniqueness of sound you can get from it is just incredible.

http://youtu.be/_iR-KrbeFs0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn45L7Sebjw
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 08:43:31 PM by Dr. M »
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Offline Jon Sonnenberg

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Re: Sheng
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2014, 02:14:14 PM »
I do not own one, but I have played one before.  I have also played a similar instrument from Thailand that was much more crude. It seems like the Asian version of the harmonica to me.  Other than the tuned reeds and air pressure, there is not a lot of tonal expression.  What are your thoughts on it?

Offline Dr. M

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Re: Sheng
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2014, 02:45:58 AM »
There's several things about the instrument I find very exciting. One is the way you can build up complex chords and tone clusters, and create polyphony, all from a single breath. Almost like an accordion you breath through. The most exciting thing for me though is that pulsing texture that's demonstrated in the second video around 4:35. I just love that chopped up shimmering kind of sound you get with a lot of modern minimalist music, hypnotically repeating 8th notes and such, and  this instrument does this beautifully. Combine the tonal capabilities with that texture and you get incredibly beautiful patterns like the one that happens around 2:50 in the first video. I've never heard anything like that out of an acoustic instrument, it honestly took my breath away. Extremely unique. Also, the way you plug the open holes with your finger allows for pitch bending, as demonstrated in the second video around 5:31 (glissando with two notes at once!!), adding to its value as a melodic instrument as well.

With any instrument like this, there's the way it's played traditionally, and you get that sound in your ear, but then hearing all those techniques demonstrated one at a time sets my imagination at work thinking of all the ways you could use it in a new, inventive context, apart from that particular culture and sound.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 02:53:25 AM by Dr. M »
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Offline Jon Sonnenberg

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Re: Sheng
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2014, 11:28:03 AM »
that is really interesting.  I will have to look into this more.

Speaking of tone clusters, my latest contraption that I am working on is a player piano that plays all the notes at once.  It was originally intended for the piece that I was making for the Black MIDI lecture/concert that I was going to be part of before my basement flood happened.  I am still making it though because I think that piano clusters are neat.  If I EQ or effect the bang, I think that it will add a very nice percussion sound to my new album.


Offline Dr. M

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Re: Sheng
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2014, 02:55:56 AM »
YAY new album! So does your player piano work through traditional air power or solenoids? Technically any player piano would be able to play all the notes at once, but is yours unique in that that's the only thing it can do? That's ingenious and kind of hilarious, if so. I've often thought about the kinds of things I would write if I had full access to a modern MIDI-capable player piano, and playing all or most of the notes at once would definitely be in there.
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Offline Jon Sonnenberg

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Re: Sheng
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2015, 09:41:36 AM »
Yes.  it is the only thing that it can do.  It is solenoid based.  :)

Offline Dr. M

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Re: Sheng
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2015, 08:12:46 PM »
I can't WAIT to hear how that sounds mixed into a Travelogue song.
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