Scrapheap Orchestra

I have an important interview on the near horizon which will require me to do a presentation. It is a scary proposition for me to have to stand up and talk about my work to an adjudication panel, something that I haven’t done for decades. However technology has moved forward considerably in that time, and I thought that a bit of video content will both relieve my stress and is probably better suited to actually demonstrate both the detail and the breadth of my work than listening to me waffle on.

So I took the opportunity to produce the video above which is derived from my brother’s recording of the television documentary (nope we weren’t even given a copy or even thanked in the credits – how rude?). This edited version is to show only my bits for my website, but I did try to keep some sort of story to make it watchable. I hope you enjoy it.

The Scrapheap Orchestra was a television documentary for the BBC and was shown on BBC Four. It was a great idea that was hijacked by risk averse and non creative executives and the end product was not what I signed up for. However it was an entertaining television programme, I did learn a lot during the whole project and I do look back on it with fond memories. The laughter and then roaring cheer that greeted my clash cymbals is clearly audible in the video and watching it took me instantly back to the roller coaster of emotions that I experienced that night and seeing again the instantaneous and exuberant standing ovation that the performance received (nearly) brought a tear to my eye even after all these years. I am left wondering if those instruments that I made still exist or whether they have been returned to the scrapheap.

3 comments on “Scrapheap Orchestra

  1. Ian Davidson

    I have left a telephone message for you outlining my request. I am trying to source some dampers for a set of Bell Chimes, belonging to a youth orchestra in New Zealand.
    I got your telephone number by phoning the Albert Hall who directed me to the website.
    I see from your site you are working on a set of bells and can obviously help us.
    Thanks for replying to my telephone message. I enjoyed our conversation.

  2. Will

    Hi i need some advice on making a cool percussion instrument for my band passion project. email mail me back with some advice.

    • pauljefferies

      Hi Will,

      Thank you for your comment. In the conceptualisation phase of making instruments, you need to be thinking about what the objectives are for the instrument.

      Top of the list is sound characteristics; sweet or harsh, tuned or dissonant, prominent tones or modulating harmonics, etc.

      Equally important is to think about the instrument set up. This aspect of instrument making is all about playability. So how do you want to play it; are you sat down behind a drum kit or keyboard, or stood behind a multi percussion set-up? Sometimes I deliberately make instruments difficult to play thereby forcing the musician to move which makes a much more dynamic performance. However I am highly derisive of instruments that are unplayable of which I have seen many! (Opinionated as ever)

      Aesthetics are also important. Let’s face it, we all generally want to look cool. In the Scrapheap Orchestra I was going primarily for sound quality, but still wanted everything to look like junk. I was also constrained by the junk I found, but in this project function was over form. In Northern Lights it was the other way round, I had a visual concept and made the instruments to fit in accordance with the sound I was trying to recreate. Therefore think about what you have already in your set up and what you want to see, and if it needs to be seen when on a stage.

      Lastly also think about logistics. I have a big van to move things around, but a lot of my stuff is for one off events. My own gear that is moved every week is much more manageable and fits into the boot of my car.

      I hope this helps.


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