Perform Like the SLSO in Your Very Own Bathtub


Over the weekend, the Saint Louis Symphony gave a preview of Powerful Percussion, the concert it will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York this season. The highlight of the show was undoubtedly the second number, Tan Dun's Water Concerto for Water Percussion and Orchestra, in which percussionist Colin Currie did some amazing things with water with some surprisingly homely pieces of equipment.

Currie percussing. - COLINCURRIE.NET
  • Currie percussing.

Currie's performance engendered a couple of collective epiphany among the audience. First, water makes a really nice sound. Second, while it might take lots of training to become an expert water percussionist like Currie, there's no reason you can't make really cool water percussion sounds in your own home.

What you'll need:
  • Lots of water.
  • Glasses
  • Wooden salad bowls of varying sizes.
  • Sticks.
  • A metal plate.
  • A colander.

Less common items which would, nonetheless, be helpful:
  • The score to Water Concerto for Water Percussion and Orchestra.
  • A violin bow.
  • A waterphone. (A musical instrument that looks something like a birdcage and makes wonderfully eerie sounds if you hit its bars or turn it in the air just so.)

  • A world-class symphony orchestra behind you.
  • Plexiglass walls to protect the instruments belonging to members of said orchestra.
  • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra conductor David Robertson.
What to do:
Fill a couple of bowls (or a bathtub) with water. Swirl your hands through it and splash a bit. Bounce a few upside-down drinking glasses on the water's surface in a rhythmic manner. Invert the salad bowls on top of the water and drum with your sticks. Bang the metal plate like a gong and then submerge it and listen to what happens.

If you are lucky enough to be in possession of a waterphone, run the violin bow across the bars, or drum on them, or twist the whole thing in the air and then dunk it underwater. For the big finish, lower the colander into the tub until it is full, then raise it high and let its contents splash down.

Meanwhile, the orchestra, particularly the cellos, will be supporting you admirably and Robertson will be conducting so energetically that if you placed him on the floor of a disco, he would fit right in (white tie and tails notwithstanding).

After your standing ovation, get somebody else to mop up.

Read a review of the rest of the concert here.


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