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#4969: Re: #4961: Vaccine Mouthpiece (fwd)

From: Gage Averill <gage.averill@nyu.edu>

Hi Eric:

Unfortunately, the vaksin-yo (banbou, bwa bourik) that I have are all made
by me out of various sizes of bamboo pipe.  I modeled on what I remembered
about ones I had played in Haiti.  The "membranes" are, in these cases, the
natural nodes to the bamboo, which close off the pipes.  Each node is
different (some flat, some oddly shaped), so I was forced to cut the hole
in sections that were relatively flat or slightly convex (the best for
getting the lips in place to reverberate).  I found the best size to be not
that different from a trombone cup but slightly flatter (i.e. more oval and
not round).  The biggest trick is in being able to place the lips
comfortably in the hole to vibrate and not have your nose pressed too hard
against the rim of the tube!  For this reason, you may want to try to
locate a spot closer to the top rim of the node on big pipes.

Cut the pipes long (i.e. from one node to another) to begin with and
experiment with tuning by sawing off sections to try to get a set in the
tuning you desire.  Relative minor thirds apart with one pipe a semi-tone
lower than the highest is a popular tuning.  Other tunings are fine and are
used (in some areas, each band has a distinctive tuning).

PVC pipe is popular in Haiti these days, and then the mouthpieces are cut
from wood, PVC pipe caps,  or any other material (I've seen some that seem
to be all beeswax), and these are often comfortably convex and more
controllable than the bamboo nodes.

Are you putting a group together?  For a while, I thought my Wesleyan group
(Rara Blan-Fou-Yo) that I had loosely organized for a while might have been
the only university-based bann rara is the US but that was just a guess.
There are various community groups in NYC, Miami, Boston, etc. as you
probably know.

Other list members, Liza McAllester or Richard Morse may have better
suggestions on making the banbou.