i have been following Ranjit Bhatnagar for many years, from his original web site at moonmilk.com, and have succeeded in pulling off a project with him. this is a “distance duet” with me on harmonic flute and ranjit on harmonic bass.
when i logged into my email this morning, one of my messages was from salamandir.bandcamp.com, from a guy named zach lincoln, who was, alledgedly, a “booking representative” from afton. this was the message he sent me:
> I wanted to reach out and see if you’re up to talk about some shows I’m
> putting together. Who’se the best person to contact about booking your
> act? I have a few dates every month around washington, my next open
> date is May 21st.
exciting, right? i have only had this music on bandcamp for a few months, and already i’m getting inquiries from someone who wants to book my act… i should be fired up…
but i’m also suspicious.
so, i wrote him back with a couple of alternate dates (i’m going to orlando on the 23rd, which is cutting it a bit close for my tastes), and i texted thaddeus, who has quite a bit more experience in the business of booking gigs than i do, and asked if he had ever heard of this guy. he said no, but sent me a link that might be appropriate.
zach wrote me back almost immediately with instructions on how to get started with afton, but i read the link that thad texted me first — http://www.wicasta.com/blogs/is-afton-live-a-scam-any-worse-than-venues/ — which, basically, says that if afton isn’t a scam, it is doing a lot of the things real scammers do, and the only way i should sign up for it is if it’s more important to me to play than it is to get paid.
it’s pretty important to me to play music, don’t get me wrong. and, given the choice, i would rather be playing music than just about anything else, pretty much any time, but it really disturbs me to be playing music for free when everybody else around me is getting paid for my playing music. in fact, that is one instance where i would, probably, NOT prefer to be playing music. i know a whole bunch of people, and at least two or three of them would probably come to see me play at a real venue, but if i have to do all of the marketing as well as playing music, then i would much rather do it on my own, than provide money for bookers and venue-owners but not myself, especially when i would be surrounded by other musicians who are in the same boat i am in.
so i wrote back to zach, asking if what i read in the article is true or not. the first response i got, when i was responding to his initial inquiry, came back within 5 minutes of my sending it, but i have now been waiting 4 hours for a response, and it hasn’t come yet… and i get the very strong feeling that it won’t come at all, which is an indication to me that what i read in the article was, in fact, spot on, and zach was hoping that i didn’t know that because it is so exciting to be contacted by someone who wants to book your act…
THEN i started actively poking around to see if i could find out anything more about this guy. conveniently, bandcamp gave me his IP address, so i plugged that in and discovered that zach wrote to me about booking gigs in washington from an IP address that’s located in Maspeth, New York… 😡
afton may or may not be an actual scam, but if it’s not, it sure isn’t trying very hard to differentiate itself from things that are, actually, scams.
that got me wondering… i’m pretty sure he never, actually, listened to any of the music at salamandir.bandcamp.com… i wonder what he would do if i actually showed up for one of his performances and played what i usually play on the didjeriflute…
the following is the rant that i’m going to put in the liner notes of the CD… which is why it will probably change at some point in the future.
the harmonic flute is a very simple instrument that makes very, very complex sounds. it was made from a piece of 1-inch PVC tubing that i rescued from a construction site dumpster. i have been playing it for about 35 years. i have taken to calling it a “didjeri-flute” because when people see me playing it, one of the comments i hear most frequently is “didjeridu”… which is not correct (and, at this point, i find it somewhat annoying): it’s a harmonic or “overtone” flute, hornbostel-sachs number 421.111.11:
4 – aerophones
42 – non-free aerophones
421 – edge-blown aerophones
421.1 – flutes without a fipple
421.11 – end-blown flutes
421.111 – individual end-blown flutes
421.111.1 – open, single, end-blown flutes
421.111.11 – without fingerholes
a didjeridu is another very simple instrument, but to make a sound on a didjeridu, you use your lips to buzz into the open end, which causes the vibration in the tube, and use your breath, tongue and voice to modify the vibration. on a harmonic flute, you blow into the open end, which is modified by having a notch carved in it, with a leading edge that has been sharpened, to make the tube vibrate. without question, it is an instrument that requires very precise breath control, but that’s it: there’s no buzzing, and no tongue or voice involved at all. in this recording, the sound of the harmonic flute was fed through a boss digital delay, and a roland cube amplifier. the recording also features a brass temple bell.
the harmonic flute makes different notes based on the harmonic sequence: the first note, or “fundamental” is quiet enough, and hard enough to produce, that i don’t use it on this recording, but i can play it. sometimes it i can play it loud enough that other people can hear it as well. the second note, or “second partial” is an octave higher than the fundamental, and it is heard fairly frequently in this recording. the “third partial” is a perfect fifth above the second partial, the fourth partial is an octave above the second partial, or a perfect fourth above the third partial, and it continues along a known and predictable path from there. there are no holes in the walls of the flute, or “finger holes”, the harmonic flute has two holes, one at either end. the only way to control what note you are playing is to be able to control your breath.
other, similar flutes include the fujara, which is a fipple flute with an air-pipe and fingerholes, the quena, which is shorter, and has fingerholes, and the shakuhachi, which also is shorter, and has fingerholes.
the recording was made in an empty room with solid concrete walls about 1 foot thick, about 20 feet wide by 50 feet long by 15 feet high, with an open door at either end. the entire room, and the surrounding hallways on either end, are completely underground, and buried by 25 feet or so of earth, with bushes and trees on top. the room was one of the gunpowder storage rooms for one of the mortar bunkers at fort worden — (insert historical information about ft. worden here) — now that it is no longer being used for destructive purposes, it has absolutely fantastic accoustics, and i have wanted to record there for many years.
this is the “complete” track, with 4 stereo pairs: FRONT, REAR, WALL and HALL…
this is an “incomplete” track: it has the front and rear stereo pairs from my recording device, which was right in front of me, but it doesn’t have the front and rear stereo pairs from thaddeus’ device, which was about 10 feet away from me, facing the wall of the room…
however, this is pretty much exactly what i was looking for, and there’s around an hour’s worth of new tracks with which i can play around… 😎