Thursday, March 19, 2009

making an instrument

Kenny wanted to make an African instrument. Specifically, he wanted to teach drug addicted peole in Liverpool how to make African instruments from materials they could find on the street, so they could play on the street and make a few quid while gouching , "you know, instead a robbin' people."

Serbia recommended we get some Ghanaian people to teach how to make their instruments. So, in our search for Ghanaian people in Liverpool, we first met with Chief Angus, a Nigerian man who is well-connected to the West African Diaspora in Liverpool.

He had his own ideas about what kind of African instruments to make, and how to use them:

But Kenny was steadfast, he wanted a Kora, and drew a sketch of a version he thought we could make:

So, we walked Liverpool for a few hours with him, collecting some wooden fruit crates and other material, and Kenny even talked a local music store into selling some guitar strings for cheap. He did some Internet research, spoke with some local instrument-makers, and had a go.

In the end, he said the instrument didn't do what he had hoped, so now we need to look a litter deeper, find some African people living in Liverpool (or abroad) to specify the materials and techniques necessary to build a proper Kora.

The one we made together, he said "works as art, you know, but not really as an instrument." He thought it could work to show that the drug addicted people were at least putting in the effort, and so might get some sympathy donations that way. He told us the story of an old addict who used to pretend to play on a guitar he drew with marker on cardboard.

"He was an entertainer," and left us with this analogy for playing music while gouching, "well, you might not be able to make high art, but you can put out a reasonable facsimile of a Pollock or Rothko, can't ya?"


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