Jars

What with two harmoniums, a concertina, and a bowed psaltery, I already have a proliferation of long-sustain organ-y sounds in my ensemble … which is appropriate, since I am an organist at heart. But I’m also a carillonneur at heart, and I love bells of all types, so I’m looking to add more ring-y percussive elements.

I have a few options, but one sound I would love to incorporate is glass. I’ve been collecting glass jars and bottles. If struck on the side, a jar sounds a complex spectrum that can play mental games with anyone trying to peg its exact pitch. But if struck on the rim, a jar gives a distinct, hollow pitch due to the resonance of the excitation of the air inside the jar. Not so ringy, perhaps, but definitely a contrast to the organ-like sustain.

I hope to construct a “jar marimba” without having to tune the jars with water or oil or what-have-you, so I’m going to keep digging around for jars. In the end, I may have to tune a few. For now, here’s a short demo. Pitches present are:

  • C3 octave: 21/16, 87/64, 119/64, 121/64
  • C4 octave: 33/32, 17/16, 3/2, 203/128, 13/8, 429/256
  • C5 octave: 33/32, 143/128, 147/128, 299/256, 5/4, 21/16, 377/256

Toward the end of this demo video, I highlight the lovely 13/12 interval. All I need now is another screwdriver and about 15 years of percussion technique under my belt.

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