Who knew you could make such beautiful sounds from plastic pipes? Turns out all you need are some specially designed flexible PVC pipes and you’ve got harmonic whirlies!
About a year ago, I went to a drumming camp with my dad and we started talking to one of the guys (his name was Wayne) there about my idea for a show that involves visual effects. Being inspired by a flexible PVC tube I brought back from the tip shop one day, I told him that I was interested in figuring out how to make tuned, flexible PVC pipes that resonate and then composing music for a group of them. This was based around the same principle as thongaphones.
As it turns out, Wayne’s partner actually sells exactly what I was talking about. Her name is Sarah Hopkins and she’s been creating and performing with these instruments since 1982! We booked a meeting, I bought a set of 16 harmonic whirlies and now I have a new addition to my show!!!!
After meeting with Sarah, I spent a while learning the limits of each whirly, understanding what notes each one can produce, planning out how many players would be needed to play a chorale and composing a piece based on the limitations. My mind was mush after the first couple of composing sessions. It was totally worth it though, because I am incredibly happy with the end product and really enjoyed working with my SOUNDSTRUCK band members on the piece. To my luck, we ended up performing the piece (with different groups each time) for 3 different events.
We rehearsed the piece at the QLD Conservatorium of Music, in the foyer, the courtyard and even right in front of the university in the parklands. Rehearsals were full of laughter and immature jokes and it was a blast to experience a whirly chorale for the first time in history.
Thank you to Loni Fitzpatrick for filming and sharing your thoughts in the video.
To read more about Sarah and her Harmonic Whirlies visit: http://www.harmonicwhirlies.com/story.html