SOLO BLOWN BALLOON (1998-2014)
photo by Eric T. Michelson
Small balloons, the kind commonly sold in department stores, are the best for use a “reeds.” You probably have made this sound with a balloon yourself at some point in your life. After inflating the balloon, I pinch either side of the mouth of the balloon with thumb and index fingers of each hand. As the air leaves the balloon, it vibrates the opening in a manner similar to the way breath vibrates a double reed (thus my description of the balloon as a reed). As the air is exiting the balloon, I hold the mouth of the balloon just past the entrance to my mouth, closing the back of my throat, and using my mouth as a resonant chamber. This also gives me the opportunity to use my tongue and mouth to articulate the notes and to add tone color. I always amplify this balloon by playing it very close to the microphone. For approximately 20 years I used this technique, but I suspended doing it as a regular part of my solo performances in 2014 after it began causing problems with my eye pressure.