Panhandling is a collection of music for steel pan and some other instruments which are used as percussion.
During a stay in Berlin in the winter of 1988-89, Walter Bachauer asked me to come over to his studio to make some recordings, so I took my pan, a pair of timbales and some of the metal instruments that I normally travel with. Walter, the assistant engineer Achim, and I set about trying to document these pieces. I was particularly concerned about capturing the resonant harmonics of the instruments. I had no problem in hearing them when playing live, but I had experienced some difficulty in re-creating them in previous recording situations. The steel pan, in particular, produces rich and complicated harmonics, which are very necessary for an accurate representation of the composition. Thanks to Walter’s musical perception and recording expertise, I feel that these recordings come as close as possible to reproducing that sound.
1. Pomp and Circumstance is a work in two parts for timbales. The “Pomp: part also includes the use of many mixed metals.
2. Craftmatic is a work for tamboura. There was a beautiful tamboura at the studio, which I re-tuned and played with wooden sticks.
3. Rollerball is for steel pan and a ball.
4. The Dream State was originally composed as a groups work for the opening section of The Caffeine Effect (Ear-Rational ECD 1001). This is the solo version for steel pan.
5. Red Dance is for steel pan.
6. Precious Metals is a work for what I refer to as a “metal snake,” which is a large coil of flat metal that I found on Avenue B on my way home one night. On this recording it is used in conjuction with the side of Walter’s bathtub. Snake in one hand, bathtub side in the other... and 3 temple bells.
7. Harpo, for the hell of it.
8. The Big Wind is for steel pan.
9. Waterball is for steel pan, ball and water.
10. Crusader in the Groove is a work for timbales with archival recordings from a WWII U.S. aircraft carrier.
11. Stix is for steel pan, in three parts. It was originally commissioned by Dance Collective of Boston for Dawn Kramer in Confrontational Collaborations.
12. Flip Flop is for steel pan.
13. The Bullroarers — a bullroarer is a flat, elliptically shaped piece of wood with a length of knotted string attached to it. To produce sound, it is whirled in a circular motion above the head or otherwise. They are used by native tribesmen in parts of both Africa and Australia.
The steel pan is an instrument made by hand from a 55-gallon oil drum. The bottom is cut away from the main body of the drum and the flat surface area is beaten down to a concave shape with a heavy hammer. The individual notes are then outlined on the surface and beaten into tune with a ballpeen hammer. — F.F.
Fast Forward was born in 1954 in Whitley Bay, England. He studied Fine Art at Leeds and Newcastle Polytechnic and emigrated to the United States in 1976 to study electronic music at Mills College in Oakland, California. He moved to New York in 1981 and since then has been composing for and playing the steel pan, both solo and with his core group of drummers. During 1988/89 he was a guest of the Berliner Kunstlerprogram des DAAD in Berlin. His work has been presented by many major museums, including The Whitney Museum in New York City and Le Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal. He gives concerts throughout the world, some of which have been performed: in a fort (Amsterdam), a fish market (Hamburg), a paint factory (London), a train station (Berlin) and on board a boat in the inland sea of Japan.
Recorded and mixed by Walter Bachauer at Belle Epoque Studio in Berlin, Germany.
Assistant engineer: Achim Gieseler
Additional editing: Allan Tucker and Fast Forward at Foothill Productions, NYC
Digital Editing and mastering: Allan Tucker, Foothill Productions, NYC
Design: By Design; design concept: Fast Forward; calligraphy: Stephanie Mar
Photos: front cover, James Dee; inside cover, Anno Dittmer
Special thanks to Ingrid Beirer, Werner Durand, David Behrman and Lucienne Vidah... in the whole, big picture, you helped make it happen.
All compositions copyright © 1990 by Fast Forward/Obsolete Music (ASCAP)
c p 1990 Lovely Music, Ltd.