Discover more from Pass Along Songs
Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful - Part II
What's going on in that beautiful mind?
“Where words fail, music speaks.” - Hans Christian Anderson
Today I’d like to feature the work of an extraordinary creator of both instruments and music. His name is Victor Gama, and all I can say after listening to his music and researching the instruments he’s created is, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be inside his head!”
His instruments are inspired by nature and issues that strike him as important, such as the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
I am featuring only three of Gama’s instruments here, but please check the links below for more of his amazing creations, installations, and information about his compositions. The man is a true gift.
The “Toha” is a harp-like instrument that was inspired by the nests of the Weaver Birds in Angola. Gama calls their nests, “One of nature’s most astounding installations.”
The Toha is meant to be played by two people, although you will often see individuals (including Gama) playing it as well. Like the birds’ densely woven nests, Gama’s work weaves the complex strands of culture, nature, and spirit.
The Acrux was designed and built based on the Southern Cross constellation. The Southern Cross is only visible in the night sky of the southern hemisphere. The vibrating lamellae of the Acrux is made of tempered steel and can cover three octaves in a chromatic scale. In the video below, Gama is playing a set of pieces designed specifically for the Acrux.
The Tipaw has two main parts - the top composed of Tibetan singing bowls, and the wooden, kidney-shaped bottom that resembles a woven basket. Gama modeled the top part of the instrument after the imprints left by a tiger’s paws when it steps in soft earth. The body beneath the paws is composed of layers arranged in an open latticework design.
The inspiration for the Tipaw came from the time Gama spent in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the capital of India's West Bengal state and the starting point for visitors wishing to travel inland to observe Bengal tigers in the wild. The Tibetan singing bowls that form the tiger’s pawprints were collected by Gama himself while he was attending music events in Kolkata. Gama handpicked each bowl used in the instrument.
Finally, I want to share a sound installation that I am longing to play with. It is called the Acruxson and consists of four Acruxes linked via an app called, “The Acrux Seasons.” The app was built by Pika and a team of developers who collaborated with school children from Wales in the UK. You can download the app and play with the sounds yourself! Simply scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the download link.
NOTE: You have to have an iPad to use it.
Victor Gama: A general introduction and wonderful photos of his instruments
3thousandRIVERS: This is the prelude to a larger multimedia opera told through the stories of people living in the Amazon rain forest.
Projects: Those of you who know how much I love kids and animals will be tickled by what you find in this link.
Instruments: There is a whole industry that is devoted to manufacturing, displaying, and selling Gama’s instruments.
So tell me…
a. What did you think of our exploration of unique musical instruments?
b. Since I only scratched the surface of the amazing talent and creativity I discovered, I am wondering if you would like me to do something similar in future posts?
c. Which of the instruments intrigued you the most? Why?
d. If you have a chance to download and play with the app, tell us about your experiences, please.
Let the discussion begin!
Copyright 2021 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.