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quiet grace

track: 22

instrument(s) used: glassworks "armonica"

recorded: 20141206

duration: 2:51

type: ambient

First of all, I’ve borrowed a decent description of the “armonica” instrument from the Soniccouture website, which is probably one of the best descriptions of its origins:

‘The “glass armonica”, also known as the “glass harmonica”, “bowl organ”, “hydrocrystalophone”, or simply the “armonica” (derived from "harmonia", the Greek word for harmony), is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction - rubbing a wet finger along the edge of the glass, as one might with a wine glass.

The instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin, who called his invention the "armonica" after the Italian word for harmony. On Franklin's treadle operated version 37 bowls were mounted horizontally on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot pedal. The modern version uses a silent electric motor. Over time lime scale build-up which gives the instrument a frosted appearance, like a rare crystal or stalactite’.

I just about fell off my chair when I realised that I had moved from a glass instrument created by Harry Partch, to one created by no less notable a major historical figure as Benjamin Franklin – will wonders never cease.

This instrument resonates with me personally, in a way that very few instruments do. I have a fondness for the pipe organ, mainly from early listening to the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, so that explains partially why I love the armonica, often, quite often, it reminds one strongly of a beautiful spacious pipe organ being played in a huge, echo-y room – exquisite, a wonderful sound.

But being a glass instrument, there is something more than just a similarity to a beautiful organ tone, it’s something else, something you can’t quite put your finger on, and it’s probably to do with the instrument being made of glass – that gives it a unique tone that is at once reverent, beautiful, and deeply soothing – I could literally, listen to this instrument play all day long, and I could easily sit, and play it, for hours and hours on end. Deeply satisfying, really a dream to play, simply gorgeous in every way – the armonica is definitely in my top instruments category now – it’s right up there in the top whatever.

Apologies for the long introduction, it is not easy to describe the experience of playing this instrument for the very first time, which is exactly what you are hearing here, live to digital – take one of my armonica experience, which is now entitled “quiet grace”.

The moment I started playing, I was transported, to a large, dark church, with my eyes closed, playing a massive keyboard and delighting in the pure, pure tone of the organ pipes, as it flowed into the large, ambient, reverberant space – so ethereal, so Incredibly lovely, that I was so very careful – but then, I started to experiment more – it’s just a simple improvisation, using very simple chords and melodies, but to me, “quiet grace” is one of THE most beautiful pieces of music I’ve created this year – the only one I can think of that I may like more, is, oddly enough, the next track, “quiet passion” – which is take two of my two-take session.

“quiet grace” carries on with its reverent tones and long, longing chords – and then stops, hanging in the air – and then, is gone.




from music for pcs: komplete samples - an eternal album, released March 17, 2014
dave stafford - komplete - kontakt 5 - glassworks

instruments used:

armonica (based on the original Ben Franklin glass instruments)


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dave stafford Stirling, UK

ambient loop guitarist dave stafford performed on stage with robert fripp and the orchestra of crafty guitarists in early 2009, and again with robert fripp and the symphony of crafty guitarists in 2015, and has worked with ambient music and looping for over twenty years. stafford has a rich back catalogue of ambient and loop music, +rock, prog or acoustic crafty guitar music: www.pureambient.com ... more

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