Udu drums are
traditional Nigerian instruments. The women play them as they sing.
Like Ghatams, they were originally for carrying water. The slanted design is a
Repairmen/Freedman innovation. Combining several into one larger instrument
is decidedly non-traditional.
The Ghatam is a
traditional south Indian instrument. Originally a water jug made from
ordinary clay, it was picked up by musicians and now enjoys notoriety as one of the most
unpleasant hand drums to play. The Repairmen don't even pretend to use it in any
traditional way. Their's are made of porcelain, which would make the pain associated with
traditional performance practice nearly intolerable but makes them good for beating with
sticks. The piece was named in honor of this lowly water jug which became a staple of
some of the most sophisticated percussion music the world is likely to know.
The three-chambered vessel was a Stephen
Freedman experiment, done with the
idea that it could be played by more than one person. It's resonant properties suggested
the inclusionof air sounds in the piece. Besides being struck and scraped with hands
and sticks, it functions as a variable resonator for a dijeridu.
The Jaltarong occurs in various forms in
several Asian Cultures. The basic idea is that one hits rice bowls
with chopsticks. The Repairmen hit them rather hard, so Steve made the bowls of porcelain.
The array of tubes, at least as played by the Repairmen, is not directly related to any specific traditional
instrument. The Vietnamese have "klong put", which are bamboo tubes of specific pitch which are not,
however actually struck. They are activated by clapping one's hands near the opening. Various tribes
of Papua, New Guinea use tubes to strike the ground, producing musical tones. The twenty-four tubes
used in Ghatam are open at both ends. They are struck in various places with foam sandals, pucks,
slit blocks of wood, and sticks of different kinds. The actual content of this section is the most closely
related to traditional music. It is based on some of the bata rhythms employed in the music of Santeria.
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