Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome to Our World #2

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, here are some more pix from our music room here at Plum Alley Studios. Today’s photos concentrate more on Eberle’s side of things.

& in addition to the photos, there’s also a music clip/slideshow featuring one of Eberle’s beautiful compositions, with her at the piano. Like yesterday’s clip of me playing the mandocello, this is a solo piece, & also was c
omposed for our Moominpappa at Sea soundtrack. In a big departure from past projects, 20 of the 29 total tracks we recorded were solo performances by one or the other of us (they actually split up evenly), with only 9 tracks featuring duet playing.

Moominpappa at Sea is a book by the wonderful Finnish author Tove Jansson. Ms Jansson’s stories fall in that sublime class that truly can be enjoyed by young & old alike; I highly recommend her Moomin series. In this particular tale, the Moomins have left their beloved home in Moominvalley to take up residence in a lighthouse—mostly to satisfy what appears to be Moominpappa’s mid-life crisis. Among many things that happen to them on the island, Moominmamma misses her garden, & begins to paint it on the lighthouse walls, &…..

Well, you really should read the story, because all sorts of rich & strange things occur. But Eberle’s song was used for scenes where Moominmamma was recreating her garden in paint.

Hope you enjoy:

Eberle's bass standing in front of one of the music room wall hangings. Besides adding some color to the room, the textiles also cut down on the echo of reflective surfaces. Eberle plays & teaches the bass.

Eberle's marimba; this instrument, which was made by a fellow in northern California (sadly, I forget his name), has been a mainstay of our music from the days of the Alice in Wonder Band right thru to various recording projects we've done as Five & Dime Jazz & the Bijou Orchestrette. In origin, marimbas are African. This instrument has a lovely tone, & Eberle comes up with tremendous improvisations with mallets in hand.

The Rocking Horse Fly has been one of our musical mascots since we played music for the production of Alice in Wonderland in the spring of 1998. The figure was made by local artist Gayle Dixon, who creates amazing objects (including a whole series of masks). The curtain came to us thru the Alice in Wonder Band's singer, Deadre Chase, who's a gifted artist in textiles & with beads as well.

Eberle's conga & her cocktail drum kit. I wrote about the latter here; it's really a fantastic instrument.
The conga has a rich tone, & was given a workout in the Alice in Wonder Band days. Your truly built the bookshelf behind the drums, which is hung with Mardi Gras beads.

A djembe, an African drum, & an instrument that Eberle has used a lot over the years. At one time, Eberle had an all-woman drumming group called Tender Buttons; the djembe also has been played at various drumming circles, in the Wonder Band, & even at a Christmas Eve mass! Eberle also uses her hand drums to work with her music students on timing & rhythm.

I've never been much of an eBay shopper—in fact, I can count the items I've purchased there on one hand—but one nice item was this set of concert bells, which I bought Eberle for Valentine's Day some years back. Like the marimba, the bells add a wonderful musical accent, & they've gotten a lot of use. As you can see, Eberle plays them on a keyboard stand.

Eberle playing her Gemeinhardt flute. This instrument has a beautiful tone— more accurately, E
berle's very capable of bringing out the Gemeinhardt's singing tone. Lately we've been experimenting with flute on some old blues numbers like Reverend Gary Davis' "Death Don't Have No Mercy," & Eberle has a great feel for what the flute can bring to that type of music.

Ah, the melodica— in Eberle's hands this is really a soulful instrument. Eberle uses a 36-key Hohner: the "Cadillac of melodicas." The melodica employs metal reeds like the harmonica & accordion, & has that same haunting sound quality.

As an aside: barefeet in February? It's thanks to our radiant heating. You can get a bit of a sense in this picture what a beautiful job our contractor Bob George did in coloring & texturing the concrete floor.

Hope you enjoyed the music room tour. Be sure to give a listen to Eberle's piece in the slideshow!


  1. I enjoy the window into your world! Tell me about your great artsy floor? Is it finished concrete? I've always wanted to do that in my kitchen.

  2. Lovely music - and the picture is completely fitting. I walked around, listening to the music, picturing a 19th century garden.

  3. Hi Willow:

    It's stamped & colored concrete. In order to keep costs down, our contractor applied the coloring by hand rather than adding it to the mix-- apparently the latter is more expensive. The texturing was done with large disc-- at least a yard in diameter as I recall, possibly larger. They literally "stamped" the texture into the floor, as they moved the discs around with their feet. This is the main floor surface throughout the main floor of the house-- the bathrooms are tile & the utility room is plain cement, but all the other rooms have this lovely concrete floor. Our only heat source is the radiant heating that runs thru the floor. It works great.

  4. Thanks Sandra! I had fun finding pix on Wiki Commons for both of these slide shows, & Eberle's song is superb.

  5. Fabulous clips! Love hearing as well as seeing your studio.

    It is not a cliche to say that the two of you make beautiful music together.


  6. Thanks Reya: Yes, Eberle & I have a strong musical connection, & she is a great inspiration to me creatively. Glad you enjoyed the clips.

  7. i always wanted to play percussion, but i chose the clarinet b/c my best friend in 7th grade played it and i wanted to sit next to her in band. of course, she was first chair and i was 10th...bad logic on my part, huh? i love that marimba (sp?)

  8. Hi Jen: Eberle always encourages her girl students to drum & play percussion & it does seem a lot of her girls are drawn to those instruments. In many ways, percussion & drumming are Eberle's first musical loves.

  9. Thanks for the tour! The piece Eberle composed is brilliant! It reminds me of the Russian composers, but also Chopin. You never know how you will respond to someone else's music; our neighbour teaches and plays piano, but his own compositions are very discordant and tough to get through. This was lovely - I could listen to it at length.
    Oh! For radiant heating in THIS house! We have no insulation at the front (it's a 1941-built brick home), but we do have a lovely cast-iron Jotul gas fire.


  10. thanks for these last two wonderful posts.... it is a wondrous and beautiful world .....

  11. Poetikat: Thanks for your generous words about Eberle's piece (I'm with you on that 100%). No insulation? Been there, done that in our old farmhouse where we lived for several very cold winters (& hot summers).

    Kimy: Thank you for stopping by & appreciating our little musical corner of the world!


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