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Stay A While (For PVC Instrument)

from Stay A While by Rettward von Doernberg


I mentioned that I'm trying to figure out a possible collaboration with the YouTuber SNUBBY J. You might recall: he has this bizarre instrument consisting of plastic plumbing pipes that are played with plastic mallets. It is really a variation of an instrument that the BLUE MAN GROUP made known (the PVC Instrument). I had asked him if he perhaps wanted to play "Stay A While" on this.

Well, he couldn't quite imagine what my piece would sound like on his instrument, the RIMBATUBES. Quite frankly, I couldn't either. I had suggested then to finish about 30 to 60 seconds of the music and to send it to him so that he can try it out.


Now what? What have I gotten myself into this time…

First, I took the chords of »Stay A While« and played a little with an arpeggiator. As an aside: an arpeggio is a way of playing a chord by playing the individual notes of a chord consecutively. Usually according to a set pattern. An arpeggiator is a software that does this for you automatically.

I chose ten of these chord patterns and put them together. Prior to that I had tried to create a sound that would resemble the RIMBATUBES somehow. And this is what I came up with:


I thought this was already quite good but soon I realized that on the one hand this is much too fast. I was afraid that nobody would be able to play this. And on the other hand it somehow didn't sound like RIMBATUBES at all. In my defence: I had created the sound with quite poorly sounding earbuds (BOSE QUIETCOMFORT 20I) while I was on the go.


Ok. Firstly, I tried to improve the sound for the RIMBATUBES. I think I actually was successful: This time I took a short snippet out of one of SNUBBY J's videos – a so-called "sample". With a special algorithm (IRCAM STRETCH) I mapped this sound across the range of his instrument (using the plug-in MACHFIVE3/FALCON).

So that quieter notes would sound a little softer I also varied the start time of the sample according to the strength of the hit. For softer hits the sample starts a little later because then there is less from the peak of the hit, the so-called "transient". I find it does sound much more realistic now.

Then I took the very fast version which for itself was already quite good but unfortunately, well, much too fast. With my newly created virtual instrument I could now much better imagine what it might sound like for real.

I fashioned then a slower version of which I believe that it actually can be played now.

Finally, I made some sheet music so that SNUBBY J can try out the piece:


Well, and then I sent all of this to SNUBBY J. Now keep your fingers crossed that he likes it. If so then I might make a longer version and he might make a video of this. I would very much like that.


from Stay A While, released March 14, 2018


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Rettward von Doernberg Berlin, Germany

Just like the great explorers in times past, I'm on a very personal, musical voyage of discovery.

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