Chalk Music

My wife, Amy, works for Calvin College‘s interview program, InnerCompass, researching topics and preparing the hosts. A while back she convinced the producers of the show to interview Rob Bliss, mastermind behind such social experiments as Zombie walks and flying thousands of airplanes off downtown Grand Rapids buildings. At the time of the interview, he was organizing “Chalk Flood,” which brought young and old to their knees–to make chalk drawings on the sidewalks of the city. Very cool.

As work on the Bliss InnerCompass episode progressed, it became clear that the show needed to include a montage of footage from the Chalk Flood event, and that music was needed to match the fast-paced, playful feel of the footage. Even casual followers of this blog will realize that this was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. But the turn-around time was tight–as in, it needed to be finished in a day or two or else the editors would use some non-descript, pre-packaged music like they use in used car ads.

I quickly decided that the music style should be frenetic minimalism. But I didn’t have time to compose one of my intricate, evolving pieces like Crossfade. It would probably have to be comprised of only percussion. As I thought about it, it struck me: what better percussion instrument could be used than pieces of chalk? Chalk produces a wonderful, visceral sandblock sound when you’re writing with it, and a clear ping when tapped against cement. So that morning I went out into the garage, set up my recording equipment, found the most resonant chalk in the boys’ collection, and began scratching/tapping out a rhythm that had been on my mind.

The result is the montage and music that begins at 1:12 of this online episode of InnerCompass.

When Groups Play – Inner Compass from Calvin College on Vimeo.

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3 Responses to Chalk Music

  1. Amy says:

    Funny how your take on this is different from mine…

  2. greg says:

    By the way, she’s talking about the entry at her blog about the same InnerCompass episode:

  3. Amy says:

    Also, you forgot to mention that your “recording” is still visible on the floor of our garage, since you did it where the rain don’t hit.

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