The BassBoxes

A BassBox is an electronic air pump which pumps wind in measured quantities through flutes, giving rise to rhythmically fascinating sounds. In contrast to what might be expected, the Bass Boxes do not produce bass sounds; rather, one hears rhythmically overblown bamboo flutes which are provided with air from the powerfully reverberating bass loudspeakers.

The design of the BassBox

BassBoxes are processors: they change electronics into sound by means of air pressure, generated by low frequency 'sounds' from the bass speaker. This is a principally radical, new way of creating sound in flutes that has never been put into practice before. This special use of electronics to generate sound is also unprecedented.

The BassBox is the first installation of its kind and enables us to connect two worlds that up until now had always been separated. The use of fast, refined refined electronics is extended to the level of the much slower reacting,more cumbersome aerophones.

At the moment that the cone of the loudspeaker moves forward the foremost flute sounds, while a small amount of air is drawn into the hindmost flute.

As the cone moves backwards the process is reversed. This explains the percussive nature of the sound; there is a constant inhalation and exhalation of air, which moves swiftly through the mouths of the flutes. This creates superbly refined combinations of sounds. The rhythmic patterns can shift with extreme subtlety, but a strict pulse is also possible.

We have designed the bamboo flutes to be extremely responsive to swift and minute alterations in pressure, resulting in 'pure' sounds free of the surface noise created by the flow of air. This gives rise to new possibilities for composers and radically influences compositional techniques.

By means of the Pulsor, a sort of analogue synthesizer without keys and presets (designed by Jo Scherpenisse) the performer generates pulses which are transmitted via two heavy direct current amplifiers (designed by Jo Scherpenisse) to the bass speakers. There, two flute tones are created per BassBox, making a total of four tones, which are interconnected to a certain extent.

one BassBox (left) with on the foreground the Pulsor and mixer

To provide amplification of the flute tones, four mini microphones (DPA 4061) with adaptors (DPA DAD 6001) transmit their signal via the digital mixing board to two stereo amplifiers (Vincent SP331), which are placed under the BassBoxes. Short cables connect these to the loudspeakers (JJA F99 130mm single cone full range).

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The BassBox cd:

BassBox cd