Dave Hollinden
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Instruments: Flower Pots

Time and Space calls for 15 flower pots, five for each player, with each player's pots spanning the same range but with different pitches. And Locomotion calls for nine graduated flower pots. I visited four home/hardware stores and two garden centers in Ann Arbor, MI, in July, 2013 to find out how difficult it might be to find pots with suitable pitches.

Pitch

I recorded flower pots at each store and measured their fundamental pitches using the spectrum analysis tool in Audacity. Below is a plot of flower pot pitch in half steps from middle C versus pot diameter.

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There was a good deal of pitch variation from one manufacturer to the next as well as among different styles of pot construction, and in some cases even among pots of the same style and diameter by the same manufacturer. Allowing for the time and energy to search, it was not too difficult to find suitable pots.

Glazed vs Unglazed

For a given diameter, unglazed clay pots will have a lower pitch than glazed pots and are therefore more suitable for lower pitches. For example, unglazed pots ranging from 12 to 18 inches in diameter ranged from around middle C to an octave below middle C. For higher pitches there is a choice between glazed and unglazed pots. The glazed pots I recorded were louder, more clearly pitched and had a longer sustain than the unglazed pots, likely due to their larger diameter for a given pitch. Glazed pots are more expensive but may be more durable since they don't require as forceful of a stroke.

Mounting

Large pots can be mounted horizontally on individual wooden supports. A number of smaller pots can be mounted similarly on a single support.


Ad Astra Percussion

All nine flower pots for Locomotion can be mounted on two wooden supports as shown.
Note that Ad Astra Percussion adds an additional large flower pot to their setup
especially for Sleep Walk.


Ad Astra Percussion

Ad Astra Percussion: side view of mounting for individual large flower pot
used in Sleep Walk (Locomotion, movement 2)