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Local Percussionists Prepare for Plaza Takeover
Posted August 08, 2017 by Brett Alderman
WRITTEN BY
Brett Alderman
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August 08, 2017
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The final curated installment of MFT’s summer Midweek Mashups will be tomorrow night, August 9, at the Fountain Square Plaza from 6 to 9 p.m. This free and unique percussive performance will feature Murray Mast, Skyfall Steel Orchestra, Rob Funkhouser and Corey Denham (of Forward Motion). This family friendly night will also include a community drum circle with instruments from the Rhythm! Discovery Center. Here’s a Facebook event page, where you can find all the information you need.

Ahead of the event, I was able to ask organizers Rob Funkhouser and Corey Denham a few quick questions.

 

Brett Alderman: What made you decide to curate a percussion event with steel drums?

Corey Denham: We wanted to create an event that featured a diversity of percussion instruments and musical styles. 

BA: How did you get involved with Murray Mast?

Rob Funkhouser: [Corey] really spearheaded getting Murray involved.

CD: Murray Mast is a local freelance musician who performs with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Murray has traveled to Trinidad several times and has studied the steel drum tradition extensively.  The steel drum tradition is a remarkable example of creativity and ingenuity.

BA: What makes Trinidadian steel drum music unique?

RF: Steel drums (pans) were invented in the late ‘40s on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and the instruments and music developed very rapidly. Murray's instruments capture a very early phase of the instrument, before tuning techniques allowed for all twelve pitches to be placed on an instrument correctly. The tunes are still played pretty regularly by modern steel drum bands, but the notes used reflect the constraints of the early instruments. The notes available are from the pentatonic scale, much like other folk instruments, including mountain dulcimer.

BA: When did Skyfall Steel Orchestra become part of this event?

RF:  From the beginning that group was an obvious choice for a family-friendly percussion show.

CD: Skyfall Steel Orchestra will be performing modern selections written by great steel drum composers, including Liam Teague and Ray Holman.  This music will contrast with the more traditional songs performed by Murray Mast. 

BA: Both of you are also playing this Wednesday. What instruments will you be performing with for your solos?

CD: I'll be performing music for vibraphone and spiral trash cymbal. 

RF: For my solo, I hardly ever decide before the day of the show, but I did just build a resonator for some antique clock coils that will probably make an appearance. I will probably also have some other junk percussion like metal bowls and broken woodblocks.

BA: Will instruments be available for the community drum circle or should participants bring their own?

CD: Instruments will be provided thanks to the generous support of Rhythm! Discovery Center (our very own Indy-based drums and percussion museum).

RF: The Rhythm Discovery Center is going to loan us sixteen drums as well as some other small instruments. We should have enough for everyone to be involved, but if we need to prioritize, we'll give children the first pick.

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