Tube Mouth Bow String

Sirius String Quartet

How do you make an awesome drone? Start with the ingredients: Tube, mouth, bow, string. Turns out this very recipe shares its name with the title track of Nick Didkovsky’s latest CD. Here’s how to put everything together: Take a sting quartet and amplify the sound of each individual instrument. Send the audio signals to talkboxes, devices that transmit sound through a plastic tube which, in turn, the performer inserts into his or her mouth. As the musicians alter their mouth shape (here Didkovsky indicates various vowel sounds in the score), the sound material modulates. In addition, the piece uses harmonizer pedals to further enhance certain frequencies over the course of the composition. Confused? Don’t worry, there are plenty of photos in the booklet accompanying the CD that illustrate the process, which in one sense is rather unfortunate. As those of you who’ve ever played a talkbox know, there’s just no way of looking glamorous while your skull is vibrating so hard. Oh, the sacrifices we make for art.

—RN