“In 2002 I made a horn from a stick of elderberry wood. It took about two hours of labour* to produce a sound. Twelve years later, a band called the Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra entertains with the descendants of that horn (there are over forty as of last count). Looking back, that simple act of burning a shaft through the pith to make a chamber was a turning point leading to a decade of music, interactive art and instrument making.”
Mr. Fire-Man creates events that rely upon the viewers to become participators. In order to do this, some preparation is required – the training of volunteers to act as ‘shills’ (prepared performers hidden in the audience), the creation of physical artworks – horns made from local, natural materials (such as old felt hats, various hardwood branches, the dried stems of giant cow parsnip and papier mache), and the composition of song structures that allow simple interactions to happen – such as a ‘Call and Response’ song.
The result of such preparation is not just to make musical instruments, but also to create a cultural moment that stays in the memory of the participants – unique events where the barrier between the performers and the audience is removed – a reunion of creators and consumers.
*Two hours of labour to produce a sound – assuming the existence of a prepared piece of wood, in this case, an elderberry branch of about 5′ in length that was already called ‘Rebecca’s Walkingstick’. Now she’s a horn called ‘Rebecca’.