Jul 19, 2007 at 11:21 pm #1224205
Back in the days before enlightenment, indeed, before culling of adulthood, I once carried a full-blown classical guitar up into the mountains west of Tokyo. Needless to say it is not something I plan on doing again, especially since at that time my playing and voice were bad enough that not even the stars came out and the mountains refused to echo.
I've been long thinking of getting and learning to play a new instrument to bring with me on UL walks. I play the guitar and the violin, but neither lends itself well to lightweight walking, even the mini guitars like the Baby Taylor and martin Backpacker. I've thought of the ukulele, but it still is too bulky and probably would often get in the way, though I like the idea of an instrument you can play as accompaniment to singing.
Three instruments I am thinking of now, a harmonica, a quena, or an Armenian duduk. I don't know how to play any of them, though I suspect that the harmonica is the easiest while the duduk is by far the hardest. I like the sound of all of them, especially the duduk.
What kinds of instruments do other UL walkers bring along? Any preferences? What do others do about music on the trail?Jul 20, 2007 at 3:32 am #1396031
@miguelmarcosLocale: Middle Iberia
Mouth harp, small dumbeks or lot's of other percussion options, singing, fiddles, piccolos or flutes, recorders, melodicas…
One thing, though: When I see this topic I think to myself: I'd rather not hear any music at all in the midst of the wild. I like that people take mp3s with headphones to keep it to themselves.Jul 20, 2007 at 3:53 am #1396034
Donna CBPL Member
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
Occasionally I carry my drumsticks. Birds tend to sing in a rhythm and it's fun to play along. Even crickets and small insects can provide the backup sound.
Someone from another BP forum offered this:
They have some sound samples. Check it outJul 20, 2007 at 4:53 am #1396036
It's sad to think that human beings have so overwhelmed the planet that it becomes a sacrilege to add human voices and music to the sounds of the natural world. I mean, we are natural creatures, too, and our voices are part of the natural world.
One of the most wonderful and beautiful moments I ever had while hiking was last year when I neared a mountain hut in the Japan Alps after a very hard and exhausting climb. As I neared the end of the climb suddenly the whole valley was filled with the sound of an alp horn. I can't explain it; normally I'd be scandalized by such blatant kitsch, but some how the sound, the coming presence of human company, and the stillness of the ravine called up such an sense of peacefulness and joy that it brought tears to my eyes.
Humans can add to the beauty of a place, too, rather than be its nemesis all the time.
Not that my music would be a plus to anyone or anything!Jul 20, 2007 at 4:53 am #1396037
.Jul 20, 2007 at 7:08 am #1396045
@robdevLocale: Pittsburgh, PA
I haven't taken instruments on trips, but I've considered it. I have a duduk, although I haven't used it in a long time. I found it difficult to play. It required good lungs and a lot of practice, and I don't have very good lung capacity. A harmonica would probably be easier, but I like the sound of the duduk more.
The xaphoon looks interesting. I've been told that starting with a single reed is easier than a double reed. I might try one of them.
I wouldn't mind hearing real instruments on the trail, as long as I'm not listening to somebody blasting an iPod. Hearing loud pop in the middle of the woods is quite annoying.Jul 20, 2007 at 9:17 am #1396054
How heavy is too heavy? On longer trips, and trips where I am alone, I bring my Martin Ukulele. It weighs about 11 oz and fits very well into the front pocket of my ULA Circuit. My base weight is under 10lbs, so I don't really care if I just throw it into my pack before I leave. I love being able to take it out at breaks and at camp. I find that it passes the time very well, and it is very relaxing. I'm a guitar player as well, and the ukulele is a cinch to learn. When I get around to doing a thruhike, I'm definitely bringing it along.Jul 20, 2007 at 2:46 pm #1396079
@miguelmarcosLocale: Middle Iberia
Miguel, I've played the upright bass for almost 20 years and now play jazz guitar. I'm not going to become unhappy on a trek if I hear a hiker playing a (fill in the blank). If I'm lucky enough to find that the player is good, all the better.
I consider the sound *and* silence of nature to be music as well. It's something that can be shared by all, independent of one's background or means. I have little need nor desire for music in these circumstances.
You said it: "Humans can add to the beauty of a place, too, rather than be its nemesis all the time."
The "can". Doesn't mean they always "will".Jul 20, 2007 at 4:54 pm #1396090
David LewisBPL Member
@davidlewisLocale: Nova Scotia, Canada
I'm a banjo player… if I ever hike the Appalacian Trail (and I will)… I'm going to be taking my Nechville Banjovie with me :) Weighs about a pound.Jul 20, 2007 at 5:28 pm #1396097
Miguel, I'm with you 100% on everything you said. After all there have been times when it would drive me crazy to have to walk behind some guy listening to a baseball game on his radio or, while enjoying the sublime solitude and silence in a forest, suddenly to have it all shattered by just barely audible distant voices. Or, one interminable afternoon when this elderly woman played hiking tag, always catching up to me at my rest stops and practicing traditional Japanese folk songs in a high, nasal, screeching voice all the way.
Though it's antithetical to expect it here in Japan, I go for walks to be alone and to enjoy silence and to listen to the sounds of nature that I so rarely hear back in the city. One thing I've found since moving out here to the countryside outside Tokyo is that I've relaxed again and enjoyed waking up in the morning to the sounds of all kinds of birds, to frogs singing at night, to the sound of the wind coming off the ocean not far away.
So, yes, Miguel, I see where you are coming from.
But there are also times when I am out there and it inspires me to want to join in and complement it with my own music. On longer walks there are so many times when I suddenly break into song, I am so happy or sad, or the pain is bad enough that a song will soothe it. After all, isn't that where music comes from?Jul 27, 2007 at 7:37 pm #1396674
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
Instead of firing up the old search engine to find a carbon fiber lithium hoot pan I caught a Brazilian jazz quintet the other night.
They had two percussionists, a traditional drum set and a "fill" percussionist.
This guy played an amazing number of different things, he'ld pop, thump, and gett eek-eek sounds out of everything from hubcaps to authentic Brazilian deallywhippers … but at one point he just picked up to pretty flat stones and clacked them together.
So maybe instead of taking something from home we should bend over a try something that is already out there.Jul 28, 2007 at 10:06 pm #1396759
Jason BrinkmanBPL Member
I play the elk bugle, but only in September. I like the Power Bugle mouthpiece by E.L.K., Inc. with a Terminator tube by Primos.
Seriously though, I think you'll find the harmonica easy to learn and fun to play. Like all instruments, get a fairly decent one.Jul 30, 2007 at 9:05 pm #1396882
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
The harmonica has been the traveler's choice since it's invention. I like a small finger piano (mbira) too. My all time favorite is a Native American flute. I found one made in plastic by Hal Kacanek that has a wonderful tone and is easy to play— and it's only $20. http://www.soundswemake.com/pages/flute.htm
The flute fits so wonderfully with a breeze and the flutter of leaves, the swaying of evergreens overhead, and the babble of a stream nearby…..May 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm #1987454
Everett VinzantBPL Member
I selected the following instruments:
I like the double tenor. It plays wonderfully.
A stringed instrument that can do ukelele and guitar chords. Two for the price of one…
I'm still considering if I want anything else. I have the one and am ordering the other.May 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm #1988057
@rhz10Locale: SF Bay Area
http://www.amazon.com/toys-games/dp/B000XDSWRC (apparently not a toy)May 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm #1988062
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
When I was in grade school in the 50's there was a little plastic flute-like or recorder-like instrument. They were pretty cheap and smallish. Just holes in the plastic pipe, but they worked. Maybe you can find one.May 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm #1988096
That recorder like instrument was a flutophone!May 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm #1988118
Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
I've never brought it on a backpacking (def camping) but if i were to bring anything it would be a mandolinMay 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm #1988139
John S.BPL Member
Eating some musical fruit weighs nothing dudes! And you can entertain all night!May 20, 2013 at 8:11 pm #1988155
Jeffrey McConnellBPL Member
I've been throwing around the idea of learning the ukulele and I think it would be fun to take on trips. Now, my singing voice is another matter! I may stick to just playing the instrument when I'm around others.May 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm #1988160
Marko BotsarisBPL Member
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
I took my native American flute and a home made smaller=sized shakuhachi with me on a 10 day solo trip down the green river through Canyonlands NP. I thought "what could be more appropriate". After days in the silence I found the sound, as mellow as it was, very harsh in my ears. It felt like a disturbance. I figured that was the best case scenario: solo, no one else around for miles but ravens and vultures, a very mellow instrument, so I decided "never again". I think it works well around a campfire with a lot of people Gene Autry style – but in a lot (or most) cases musical instruments might be very out of place – at least where I'm coming from. Just be sure you don't intrude on other people's experience.May 20, 2013 at 9:25 pm #1988184
W I S N E R !BPL Member
A small doumbek and a bamboo flute. The flute was made by a friend of mine that's gone now, so it's always a special one to play. The doumbek is super lightweight aluminum, durable, great for camping. I make ceramic drums, but taking them backpacking is another story.
I typically only play the flute alone. I studied African drumming in college, used to play in groups quite a bit, and find myself preferring Middle Eastern drums now. I'd really like to get a tar.
I've been wanting to take shakuhachi lessons for a while as well; was hoping to start this summer.
Here's my favorite musician on this Earth: Hamza El Din. The track is Hamayala, featuring a tar.
I used to have a ukulele but found that the sound is a little too happy and plucky for my liking. I like hearing others play them, just not my style.
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