Cat’s Face

CAT’S FACE

Playing the Cat’s Face

The cat’s face has two tuned arrays of metal tines, one short and one long. The tines are plucked in different ways to bring out different modes of vibration, and each mode has its distinctive tone quality. In the short array, the prongs have wire-loop rattles to add a glittery edge to the tone. They are played in the usual fashion to bring out the first mode of vibration, which is typical for lamellaphones such as this. The longer rods are played by with an unusual flex-and-release playing motion which brings out the second mode.  Because the tines are quite long, this mode is low in pitch, and it has a distinctive scooping tone quality. Originally the soundboard of the cat’s face was mounted on a polystyrene sound box. That’s now gone, and it’s equipped with a pickup instead. .

The audio clip features the Cat’s Face with just a tiny bit of added color from a marimba. A video of this instrument can be found among the demonstrations in this youtube playlist.

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