This one’s a little late, I’ve been busy!
We just returned from the local pool, and a lot has happened since last posting. Initially, it wasn’t clear how much work I would be able to get done, but as time went on, various stopgaps, fixes, and equipment came along and I’ve been working hard. Most recently, the digital piano I had been waiting on has arrived!
It’s a lovely piece of equipment, which has clearly seen some solid use and is going strong after a trip all the way out here from Reykjavik. The piano voice on it is a little bright and honkey-tonk-ish, but who cares! It has weighted keys and a piano noise with no delay or major technological problems! The only thing it was originally missing was a sustain pedal, which I was able to fix up with some tinkering. I have an old mic-to-line cable that’s roughly 10 feet long, and the XLR end of it crapped out and died some time ago. I still carry it because I recognize it might be useful for jury rigging, and this was one of those times! I cut off the XLR end and separated out the two prongs of wiring, which I used to rig a sustain pedal. In the kitchen/living room of the Gamli Skóli, there was a lovely miniature hole-puncher that everyone in the house confirmed was not being used. 15 minutes, some masking tape and paper clips later, I’ve got a functioning sustain pedal!
Initially it wasn’t clear whether closing or opening the circuit would cause the sustain effect, and I ended up doing most of the jiggering while it was plugged into the keyboard. Another thing to leave in Hrísey! The main thing I’m working on – and will be sad to leave behind – for the Gamli Skóli is a wooden flute, modeled loosely after various native american forms I have found diagrams for around the internet. Initially it wasn’t clear there would be a lot of space to do that kind of work, but when we were advised to check out the basements, I was overjoyed to find this workspace!
I found some worthy wood, and spent a few hours hollowing it and starting to shape a tube.
A couple days ago, I threw in another few hours grinding it down.
I think with another day or two of effort, it should be ready for a mouthpiece and some tuning! I have left about 5cm of spare wood unshaped at the plugged end of the flute, and am hoping that if the flute turns out well I can carve something vaguely Icelandic into the head of it. Don’t know what that would be yet, but right now I’m thinking it might be some kind of take on the Hrísey emblem.
Speaking of Hrísey, the beauty of this island continues to astound. Two nights ago I got my first good look at the northern lights – unfortunately, they turned out to be a little too dim to show up in the pictures I took. We all went to visit various parts of the island and I try to take a good walk at least once a day. It’s not always clear out, but the days it is, I’m able to get some pretty impressive pictures.
Unfortunately, it looks like way the bus and ferry schedule is lined up I wouldn’t be able to visit Akureyri without having to stay overnight. I liked the hostel and all, but it would make multiple trips too pricey. The ferry does come with impressive regularity, though, and if needed I could make a rush trip to Akureyri for supplies that cannot be found on the island.
Beyond that, though, there’s not much incentive to leave. The local residents have been unfailingly polite and helpful to us, and most of the artists in the house enjoy eating together and exploring the island.
The other artists in the house are Anna Kodama, Marie Dann, Sara Zollinger, and Rhoda Feng (she has contributed to a variety of publications, but I couldn’t find a main website or blog for her). They’re all great people, and it’s a pleasure living with them. So far, they don’t complain about all the noise I make. That noise ranges from my horrendous attempts at guitar, randomly singing celtic folk toons in a cheesy opera satire while I shower, and blasting everything from Slayer to Avenue Q while working in my room. Though now that the piano has arrived, my workspace will once again become a bit louder.
Day to day I try to take the occasional photo of the beautiful landscape around here, and there are too many to justify putting them all up here.
I’m assembling all of the photos into a Google Drive folder, viewable to anyone with the link. So if you’d like to see some of the random photos of what I’m doing in Hrísey, here they are:
That’s all for now! Some good things have happened regarding some projects, but I have to wait a bit to announce it too widely. I’ll post more about Iceland as it goes on.
- “Raining Blood” by Slayer
- “We’re Red and We’re Gay” from American Dad!
- “Your Daddy’s Son” from Ragtime