Brendon Bussy

Table Lamp + Inspiration = Soundtrack

Posted in Design, Invention, New Old Old New, Sound, Soundtracks by Brendon Bussy on May 2, 2011

Recently two of my troublingly diverse interests conspired to create a soundtrack for the production Door which will play at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival this year.

This is how it came about….

Earlier this year, I was wandering around Cape Town’s Cape  Design Indaba, after running a workshop.  I found myself  drawn to a project display which attracted me due to its ‘work in progress’  nature.  I love prototypes, they smell of pure idea and this one positively reeked 🙂

Run by two young industrial design graduates who call themselves ThingKing, their stand offered a kit table lamp fabricated as simply as possible –  a metal flat bar, elegantly bent and cut.  A bulb socket, light bulb and piece of A4 paper completed the construction.  On sale for a donation (to a worthy charity) and on display as a stimulus to conversation about efficient design, I couldn’t resist (especially the conversation) and I took one home to assemble for use on my work bench.

Here it is:

table lamp

And as a lamp it’s been very useful.  But little did I know that this useful object would become the catalyst for a sound track.

Enter inspiration. And another of my interests:  mining the secret sound world of everyday objects.

One day whilst  admiring my lamp and at the same time thinking about a soundtrack (unstarted) that I needed to get onto asap for director Jori Snell, I, without thinking, gave the lamp a ‘tap test’.

This is basically something I often do to any object which suggests that it might produce a useful and resonant sound.  A sharp rap of the knuckles may result in a satisfying “Poooong”.  Or just a  uninspiring “Plunk”.

In this instance I was generously rewarded with a soft but endlessly sustaining and pure, “Tuuuunnnnnnnnng”.

And I realised that I’d found the ‘jumping off point’ for my soundtrack.

So.  Idea. I attached a contact microphone (a simple diy piezo of my construction),  ran it through a preamp and reverb filter,  and started recording.

Here’s a short sample of me tapping:

I also experimented with scraping the lamp:

After a few hours of inspired tapping and scraping, I edited the results and rushed them down to  Jori  in Grahamstown who was in the energetic throes of developing Door for the Eastern Cape based UBOM! drama company. And waited nervously for her feedback.

Jori liked the tracks (relieved exhalation). Which meant that soon, with some adaptions,  and the addition of a few recordings made with my diy  ‘Gourmet Instruments‘,  the soundtrack was complete in record time.

My partner Masha and I will be going to the festival this year and I can’t wait to see the production.  I’ve admired Jori’s work since seeing her solo show Inua at Out the Box last year.   And I’m keen to see her collaboration with the well known UBOM!

special note:
  Masha will also be taking part in the Grahamstown festival this year, exhibiting her puppets and drawings as part of Co/Mix.

4 Responses

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  1. Chris Wildman said, on May 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Great to have a sound bite blog: why not add a couple of your own banjo riffs i can jam I can loop up and jam among to? Will give you a visit.
    Chris Wildman

  2. Brendon Bussy said, on May 3, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Ah! Mandolin 🙂

    Thanks for for reading. We need to meet up soon. I have more space now so home jamming is a definite possibility.


  3. […] created original music and sound design using a table lamp amongst things, for Ubom! Theater’s Door and sound design for Kim Kerfoot’s hilariously […]

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