I think this video speaks for itself – I love it.
Why do I love it ? Because it’s:
– wait, punky ? [Insert FX of record scratch/car screeching to a halt/etc]
What the hell am I talking about ?
Punk means something different depending which side of the Atlantic you grew up on, but either way, what do these delicate ambient textures and found sounds have to do with either the Ramones or the Sex Pistols ?
The answer is – DIY ethos.
Regardless of what it sounded like, a key element of punk was that anyone could make music – provided they sing a bit, or strum and hit something.
The modern equivalent is a laptop (and a microphone) – so, you don’t even need an instrument! Diego is using ProTools, but there’s plenty of highly affordable – or even free – software around that can do the same job. Every Mac comes bundled with a copy of Garageband these days, for example, which includes the “musical typing” feature, so you don’t even need a keyboard.
Music From A Tree is almost better than Music From Sand in this respect, because there isn’t even any additional audio processing going on. No effects, no samplers – it’s just patterns built up from real noises.
What else do I love about these videos – shall I count the ways ? The improvised stethoscope mic ? Taping mics to his fingers ? Shaving bits of wood off the twigs to tune them ? Playing the tree with a bow ? Emulating waves crashing by playing grains of sand…
If you write ambient or electronic-influenced music you’re probably already looking for that lapel mic you never used for your last mobile phone so you can tape it to your toes, but maybe if you’re writing more conventional music these ideas don’t seem so relevant to you.
If so, I say – think again.
Individual, original, unexpected and delightful sounds can add something to almost any musical genre.
Hang a mic out the window and record wind and birdsong behind your acoustic guitar piece. Sample a dustbin lid and mix it with the snare sound in your latest metal tune. Instead of a guitar solo, sing it with a paper and comb through your guitar amp. Use a tin of pulses as a shaker, make your own glass harp, sample your grandmother’s teeth – I don’t care, just get some 21st Century punk DIY into your music !
This, however, is probably taking it too far.
(Warning, contains scenes some people – including me – may find distressing)
Are you already using “found sounds” in your music ? Will you, now ? Please ?!