Moving the overtone window
July 24, 2010 1:40 AM   Subscribe

Mark Growden plays many instruments, among them the accordion, banjo, guitar, saxophone and bicycle handlebars.

The handlebars are being played in the style of the Scandanavian willow flute, an instrument similar to the Russian kalyuka and Slovakian koncovka. Unlike most flutes, these have no finger holes, relying entirely on overtones for their scale. If you're mathematically inclined, The Mathematics of Musical Instruments (pdf) begins with a discussion of willow flutes. If you're more the hands-on type, you can make your own in around five minutes.

Willow flutes were featured on Cool Tools a few months ago, and if you'd like to hear more, there are many videos on youtube. Vladiswar Nadishana also has many examples of overtone flutes on his site, both traditional and modern.
posted by hades (4 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks to sculpin for turning me on to Mark Growden a few hours ago. I'm bummed I missed him performing on Wednesday. It looks like he's in Eugene and Portland this weekend, then in California for a while.
posted by hades at 1:44 AM on July 24, 2010

I can ride my bike without handlebars.. But it's hard to play them while on the bike!

Thanks for this, always wondered what type of flute made that distinct sound.
posted by pyrex at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2010

I saw Mark Growden at The Kessler Theater a couple of months ago and he was fantastic! I didn't know anything about him before the show and I walked away a fan. He opened the show with the handlebars.

He's coming back on September 11 in case any of you Dallas folks would like to see him.
posted by ericthegardener at 8:54 AM on July 24, 2010

I've been wanting to post on Mark for a long time, but he's a pal of mine, and it's entirely too self-posty.

Mark is fucking amazing. He taught me the joy of singing with and for other folks. He's a survivor and a giver and a stunning artist. Love the man dearly. Hands down one of the very best entertainers/performers I've ever seen, and I work in entertainment.

If you ever get a chance to see him, DO IT.

I cannot sing the praises of this man enough.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:00 PM on July 24, 2010

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