Over the past few days, Alexis Lamb and I were quite busy putting the final touches on her new duo, Descobertas por pau e pedra. At one point in the rehearsal, we both got frustrated with our inability to hit certain pitches together in a harmonious way. Unlike other percussion instruments, except timpani!, intonation isn’t an aspect of musical expression toward which percussionists devote a lot of time and energy.
Alexis, who continues to play a lot of electric bass and electric guitar, is quite familiar with the concept of the fret board, and at one point in the rehearsal she proposed that we create a “fret” system by simply dotting the wire with a permanent marker. I grabbed the nearest Sharpie (red! “no, magenta” Alexis corrected) and with the help of a digital tuner found the “perfect” spots on both sides of our wire.
I was shocked at the results. Instantly we were playing in tune. It made a huge difference in the performance of her duo, Descobertas por pau e pedra.