la petite girafe Miscellaneous

A List Of Yellow Items


La petite girafe liste …
Yellow Items

  1. The Yellow Elephant from Prague. A clay figure dating back to at least 2014 when it was purchased in one of those many tiny shops overcrowded by international tourists you find at every corner in the Czech capital. In contrast to other cities, Prague offers loads of hand-crafted things at such places at vastly reasonable prices. I’m still in doubt whether or not this is really meant to be an elephant, but its most prominent features—the very big ears and a trunk—purport that we can consider it one.
  2. Adhesive Tape. There is not very much to say about that item. Everyone has one somewheres at home, however I try to avoid using it most of the time as taping something together proves to be the next best thing more often than not.
  3. A self-stick notepad. There are many ways they might turn out to be handy. Whenever I get down to extracting the parts from a score I really love them and eventually my desk would become a yellow or white and red carpet—all covered with sticky notes. Cut into thin slices they are also very useful for playing compositions on the piano that require some extended playing techniques which usually means to do something on a specific string of the instrument. Piano strings are not arranged in a standardized way. Thus it might turn out that the Gb1-string(s) are not at the very same place on a concert hall’s piano as on the piano you have at home; hence it is definitely a good idea to attach some (removable) indentations to be sure you hit the right tones and strings on an unfamiliar instrument. Slices of sticky notes attached to the dampers can do this job wonderfully for you.
  4. A yellow blackboard chalk. I love colours—in nearly any context. Explaining something on the blackboard, you can easily group some information that belongs together. I purchased my set of chalks in 2019 I think. Due to the pandemic it has not been used very often since then.
  5. Hermann Erpf’s Lehrbuch der Instrumentation. Honestly, did I really think I could retrieve some inspiriation concerning the way of how to orchestrate my own compositions from this very book? Perhaps some teachers will bring forward the argument that this book needs to be considered a standard reference. I read it. At least.
  6. Panther’s immunization card. Unfortunately no longer needed as our pet cat passed away in January )-;
  7. A yellow fluorescent marker. I’ve hardly ever used it, but it’s yellow, though.
  8. Some glue. Even the paste itself is yellow. After attaching it to paper, it would stick together really well. A bit frightening, isn’t it?
  9. The little giraffe. Well, that’s pretty obvious.
la petite girafe Miscellaneous

The brush


La petite girafe et l’object:
The brush

Brushes and mallets are widely known as the objects which percussionists use in order to play on their instruments. Let’s consider a piano a percussion instrument. What can we do with a brush as pianists?

Obviously we might make use of it to scratch over the strings. Naturally playing on the instrument in such a way makes commonly more sense if we keep the right pedal down, but we should also take into consideration only scratching or striking the strings with the brush and leave the pedal in piece. I’ve tried out both ways while composing a new work for piano solo recently and, frankly, I was pretty disappointed. One might assume (I did!) that using a brush on the strings returns a somewhat spectacular and unusual sound, but it just didn’t. However, it’s quite nice to have the following effects: Gently tap over the treble strings and combine it with another playing technique inside the piano or some notes played on the keys. The resuly is quite silent and I would rather not use it in an orchestral work or in a piece for a large ensemble (needs to be amplified, considering the fact that such pieces are usually being staged in larger concert halls).

Another nice way to use it—and indeed this one is quite similar to the one described above—is to scratch over the section of the strings between the tuning screws and the bridge. Again this will produce only very fragile sounds. We might also consider to strike or scratch over the crossbeams with a brush. Again, the result is quite weak. Applying other mallets for that provides by far more options of creating and handling interesting thuds and noises.

Other possible playing techniques involving a brush which I haven’t tried out because they didn’t seem promising at all to me could be:

  • Scratching over the keys with the brush (consider playing Lachenmann’s Guero instead)
  • Using the handle of the brush (mind that not every brush handle is made of the same material)
  • Tapping the soundboard with the brush (again—consider using other mallets instead)
  • Scratching over the dampers (only do this if you hate your instrument)
  • Strike or scratch over the wooden parts of the piano (again, the result would be rather not interesting)
  • Applying the brush to the little giraffe (for obvious reasons)

la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: A Vitascope

The little giraffe is looking into a lense of an unfinished wooden vitascope.