Dumbo Hit n Run

Oct. 16, 2001

quicktime movie
7 MB
quicktime movie
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The pyrophone was built as a part of an ongoing Madagascar Institute project to create musical instruments using fire to produce sound, both pitched and percussive.

This rendition of the pyrophone involved eight propane cannons and three 40 lb. propane supply tanks. The cannons consist of a reserve tank with a launch valve on top, and a pilot light. The launch valve is controlled via MidI. It can produce a wide range of pitches which are created by a combination of the tuning of the release pipe and the size of the explosion, which ranges from 6 inches to 25 feet.

I helped to figure out the control mechanisms for the cannons and then fine-tuned them in order to make it a playable instrument. Since it can spew 25 foot fireballs in rapid succession, we have not been able to practice with live fire for more than a few minutes at a time. Therefore, most of the tuning was accomplished with compressed air and imagination.

It is definitely a work in progress, this performance was mostly a proof of concept. The next step is to work on making it easy to control and predictable in performance. A Pd patch is in the works to even out the various delays inherent in each gas valve, making the timing even. Electric ignition will eliminate the troublesome pilot lights.

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