Chimes & Oatmeal

November 17, 2016 8:56 PM

Here's my submission (finally) for the assignment I got for the Great Raffle Request Challenge a few years back. The request: "Record a song (cover or original) on an instrument you don't really know how to play." This one's for Secretariat!

There were a few requests left over after the Great Raffle Request Challenge ended back in 2013; I asked if I could take one of the remaining ones, and greenish assigned me this challenge from Secretariat. I liked the idea immediately and was also impressed by the helpful examples and flexibility in the additional request info:
Details: The main instrument of the song should be an instrument you don't play. You can take this as loosely or literally as you wish. If you want some examples to get you inspired:

Example A: You play string instruments. You've never even touched a trumpet. You take your portable recording device to the music store and ask to take a trumpet to the trial/practice room and see what kind of noises you can get out of it. You then either post it to music in all its glory, or maybe you take the recording and add some snazzy backup tracks from instruments you do play or some vocals or something.

Example B: You sing and play the saxophone and live in a house with a piano, but don't really play more than chopsticks regularly. Try to play something interesting on the piano and record it.

Example C: You play pretty much every type of instrument, so this challenge is really hard for you. But what about less traditional instruments like pots and pans? Cats? Children? Car doors? Vegetables?
I've done a mix-and-match combo from examples B and C, featuring chimes and one of my favorite breakfast foods that's also acoustically useful: oatmeal.

Years ago, a friend of mine gave me a really nice set of desktop chimes (8 bars + mallet) and while I liked them a lot, I'd never learned how to play them as a real instrument. I spent some time figuring out a melody, practiced it a few times, and then recorded it. Later added some backing rhythm with a makeshift hand drum/shaker: a partially full oatmeal canister (thin cardboard with plastic lid). I'm not a percussionist, as this recording will very clearly demonstrate...

This took forever because of multiple unexpected events coming up in real life along the way. I recorded this in January 2016, and had hoped to redo the recording after some more practice. Now that that's looking less likely, I didn't want to delay any further so I completed this mixdown yesterday.

Thanks to greenish for the encouragement when I said it would take longer than I expected. Secretariat, I'm really sorry for the delay and I'm happy to present it here, at long last! Thanks for the creative idea; I had fun doing this challenge.

posted by rangefinder 1.4 (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Wow, this is super cool! I entirely forgot that I had a request in the Great Raffle Challenge, and I kind of can't believe you went back in time for this one and followed through, when many people would have just said "eh, things happen". This is like finding out I got awarded an extra birthday this year or something!

I admit when I first read oatmeal, I imagined cooked oatmeal going schlorp, slurp, splut. I think you made the better choice to use it dry.
posted by Secretariat at 9:23 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yay, thanks, Secretariat! And you're very welcome. It was a pleasure to work on your challenge.

I admit when I first read oatmeal, I imagined cooked oatmeal going schlorp, slurp, splut.

That's a very reasonable point (a friend also made the same observation), and in retrospect I probably should have named this "Chimes & Oats" instead. (That's some good alliterative onomatopoeia you have going there, by the way!)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 10:34 PM on November 18, 2016

I listened to this before reading below the fold, and thought, "Quaker Oats! Makes the perfect instrument in an improvised kitchen jam session." You can shake it like maracas, you can brush or tap on the bottom, and they're nutritious too. Nature's Perfect Foodstrument.

I like the way when you shake it, it sounds like a stadium clapping along.
posted by not_on_display at 9:27 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Well worth the wait!
posted by greenish at 3:29 AM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the kind feedback. :)

I like the way when you shake it, it sounds like a stadium clapping along.

That's interesting, thanks for sharing that -- I never would have thought of that. And thanks for your description of "Nature's Perfect Foodstrument" -- that made me chuckle and I needed a chuckle.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 10:09 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is so cool!! I never visit the...darker gray? What do regulars call this place? But this was super cool, and I had no idea about the raffle request from a few years back. Also thumbs up for secretariat for thinking of a really cool idea to generate something new.

All around, excellent. Much enjoy, many good, 10/10 would like again.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:12 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is so cool!! I never visit the...darker gray? What do regulars call this place?

I don't know! Has there been a consensus? I never know what to call it. MeMu and MeFiMu don't sit well in my head. MeFi Music or Metafilter Music is what I've always called it in my head.

But I really like "The Darker Gray". It sounds like a name in and of itself. I think I'm going to start calling Metafilter Music, "The Darker Grey".

I never would have thought of that. [re: the clapping effect]

...well what happened was, I just imagined Queen at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid with everyone clapping to "Radio Gaga"... And even though your song was like way antipodal to Queen's song, once I heard it the oatmeal and envisioned Queen at Wembley, IT. ALL. MADE. SENSE. That's the moment I really clicked into this song; before that moment, it was an interesting and fun listen. Then suddenly it became weirdly and quietly anthemic.

Anyway, good job.
posted by not_on_display at 9:29 PM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

The darker grey sounds like a fine nickname to me. Welcome to MeFi Music, FirstMateKate! Thanks for the lovely note and I hope you visit more often.

not_on_display, thinking of a crowd at Wembley Stadium -- of all stadiums -- clapping along to my chimey song with Queen somewhere in there is a delightful and surreal visual moment. I tip my hat to your imagination!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 8:52 PM on November 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

So, so great.
posted by cortex at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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