A pom pom.
A bon, dum, dum, dum, dum, da dur, bon, dum, dum, dum, da dur, bon, dum, dum, dum, da dur, bon, dum, dum dum da dur.
It’s really hard to find rubber bands big enough for double basses. But if you get an old fashioned hardback with an elastic band around it, you’ve got a surprisingly versatile instrument. It’s just a question of taking time.
I’ve never had the perseverance to actually record any of my stationery based hip hop, but it keeps me entertained around the office, with the occasional drifting thought of bringing a dictaphone into work and recording the rhythms and clatters and resonances of the various parts of the building.
David Byrne (who is about to start lamenting into my ear) once played a whole building. Well. He installed a piece in a number of buildings. It was an old fashioned organ, with the keys wired up to a series of solenoids, air pumps and motors around the building (I went to see it at the Camden roundhouse). The keys would trigger blasts of air over pipes, striking thuds and clanks on various fixtures and rattles all around.
It was a wonderful thing to be part of, but by going on the cheap day, I lacked the patience to queue up for an actual play. Lying on the floor I just listened to the building reinvent itself all around me. Unable to interpret the keyed tunes into straightforward music, I was just drowned the unusual. The world made different. Space challenged through noises.
And for the rest of the day I was hyper aware of the sounds around me. Musics emerging from air-conditioners, traffic and the slap of the Thames on the embankment. Music is everywhere, it’s just a question of listening.
An elastic band cannot play the drums or sing. But they have sounds, they add to our musical lives. They brighten up our office drawers with the potential for stretching and pitching and building and dancing.
And it’s not hard to give a pluck.
It’s an easy route, but as such, its a starting point. Noticing the range of noise that can be made with something as simple and ubiquitous as a rubber band is like a gateway drug to the music of the world around us.
I take pleasure in simple sounds. Reverberations and crescendos and plinks, plonks and crashes. The rumblecrack of thunder and the metallic pitch bends of the washing up, lapping water just about everywhere, the echoes of pipes through buildings, the singsong of conversation.
I think it’s worth taking time to appreciate the chorus of everything all around us, though it can space out to engage too deep. Steps back can become uncanny.
But fuck it.
Make your elastic band into a four piece. Make your office into an orchestra. Make your life into a symphony. Make your world into music.
You won’t regret it.
Probably, you’ll enjoy it.
Illustration by Paul.