The eToobs

amplified stamping/feedback tubes  
2003  ⤥  ∞’

These notes are from an installation at the 2003 House of Sound at Princeton.

“I have been building these instruments as part of a piece I am composing for Trollstilt (my duo for Hardanger fiddle and guitarist Monica Mugan), percussion quartet (So Percussion), and projected “motion paintings,” or MoPs (animated paintings). The MoPs, by Judy Trueman, feature these wonderful moving lines of various sizes and shapes, sometimes looking like abstract boats, other times like trellises. I wanted the percussionists to have instruments to play that were inspired by these moving lines, and found the idea of amplified “stamping tubes” appealing, especially since they offer the possibility of playing bass lines. An early test version of one of the MoPs is projected in the room (assuming it’s not too bright too see it).”

“The eToobs are quite simple: tubes cut to lengths to sound in the familiar equal tempered scale, capped on one end to sound on octave lower than the would if they were open at each end, and fitted with a very small microphone. There are sixteen in the room, ranging from about 3 feet long to nearly 8 feet long, and they can be played in various ways—as stamping tubes, or by simply searching for positions where they feedback. One of the reasons I have them set up here today—and this is the first time they have been all set up at once for people to play—is to see what people do with them. One of the wonderful things about musical instruments is that it is very difficult to predict how they will be used, and what their most interesting aspects are. So, play away!”

I used the eToobs extensively in Five (and-a-half) Gardens, with some as long as 12′, hanging from the lighting grid with bungy cord so they could be stamped on the ground and released–they were a forest of stamping tubes! Listen around 10’30” into this track:

Others were on the ground, played with mallets, amongst pots and cans; check out the bass-line starting around 3’8″ in this one: 

and yet others were held freely, creating feedback with on-stage speakers, along with a wheelbarrow being played with mallets in this one: