The crank is the mechanical version of a loop. By using hand-cranked instruments, we are able to create rhythmic and repetitive patterns easily. We can alter the sound by altering the crank's speed and direction, and we can also use plucking and scratching. By working in an ensemble, we can create layers of sound.
The resulting sounds are surprisingly pleasing. They can range from sparse new-music style "plinking" to melodic loopiness to hardcore noise.
I made the first instruments for a performance at the Garden of Memory event, organized by Sarah Cahill. I was working on more mechanized sound sculptures, but became frustrated by the lack of nuance and the presence of motor noise. Once I built the instruments, I needed to recruit people to crank them. I was very lucky to find some exceptional people perform with them.
The Crank Ensemble has been much much much fun. We have performed often since our first gig, Including the Luggage Store, Other Minds' BRINK series at the Hemlock Tavern, Epic Arts, The Launch Pad, KFJC, Edgetone Music Summit at 21 Grand, and Ashkenaz.
I made two very good CDs from the first three concerts, which you can have simply by and giving me money. You can also listen to a nice chunk of it HERE. The Crank Ensemble includes (or has included) Bodil Fox, Lena Strayhorn, Chris Miller, Keith Nomura, Patricia Ravara, Eugene Chen, Adam Shraft, Matt Davignon, Mark Brest van Kempen, Aaron Ximm, Bronwyn Ximm, Kevin Mathieu, Vicki Olds, Molli Amara Simon, Mary Behm, Hugh Steinberg, and God knows whom else.