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HensTooth Discs

HensTooth Discs is a small business – essentially a one-man operation, located in New Hampshire that specializes in cutting discs for antique music boxes.

Owner Jack Perron seems to offer a valuable formula for having a happy future: Find something you love that your friends think is a little weird. Pursue it with dogged determination. As a result of Jack’s passion for putting new music on old music boxes, he has developed a considerable amount of expertise on the subject. People come to him from the world over to get new discs for their beautiful machines. A little eccentrism is a good formula for success, don’t you think?

Icelandic singer/genius Björk came to him when she wanted to write some music box music for her 2001 album Vespertine. The track “Frosti,” from that album features a recording of one of Jack’s discs, specially made for Björk, and not only recorded for the album, but used on tour, and his discs appear elsewhere on the album as well. I didn’t know this until recently, and had assumed the recording was a digital synthesizer. Such is the effect that digital technologies have on the music industry. We recognize quality when we hear it, but we don’t know from whence the quality comes.

But the quality of Jack’s discs certainly shines through in this live performance, recorded at the Royal Opera House.

At the moment, Jack has been working with me to produce a disc by which I’ll be able to play a more tangible version of my composition Whitney Music Box (which people sometimes mistake for a historical recreation of a piece of John Whitney’s music- it’s actually a piece of Whitney’s motion graphics DNA that I have set to music.).

Jack has been absolutely wonderful to work with, and I hope he can cut a few Whitney-discs for other fans of the piece, something I am sure he’d be glad to do. The pattern on the discs is quite beautiful, although we’re both a bit worried that some antique music boxes may not be able to perform the piece in it’s entirety, because the first chord involves playing every tine on the jukebox at the same time, and most mechanical jukeboxes aren’t strong enough to manage it.

Look here for updates (and recordings!) of the progress of this fun little project, one of several I’m currently working on related to mechanical music.

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4 Responses to “HensTooth Discs”

  1. Christopher Andersson Says:

    The video is haunting, and beautiful.

    I have always been fascinated by all things mechanical, and I can’t wait to see you moving a huge crank that powers a real live whitney.

  2. jbum Says:

    Yeah, love that vid. Makes me want to see a Bjork concert. NOW.

    I agree with you about the impressive of huge cranks. Funny thing is, I’m dead sure that if were to use a huge giant crank that took real physical stamina to turn, it would way more impressive, then if I used the little knob I used at the GEL conference, for the same purpose.

    And yet they perform the same function. There’s something odd about the way our brains perceive the value of the crank depending on the effort it takes to produce or to revolve the crank, regardless of what the crank is actually accomplishing.

    Bizarre.

    If you have any ideas how I might procure an incredibly large crank, let me know. I know, I know… I get emails with suggestions about that all the time!

  3. jbum Says:

    More fun with cranks: The Crank Ensenble:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuWjRFiVzFk

    This group is performing at a local concert my friend Richard Amromin is helping to put together in June, I think.

  4. KrazyDad » Blog Archive » Whitney Music Box simulation Says:

    […] « HensTooth Discs […]