An Udderbot Recital (Press Release)

Champaign-Urbana, July 30, 2010—Multi-instrumentalist and composer Jacob Barton is happy to present his first full-length concert featuring the “udderbot”, a unique slide woodwind instrument invented in 2005.

A joint project of OddMusic-UC and UnTwelve, the concert will feature adaptations of pre-existing music and new music commissioned especially for the occasion. Sixteen composers, half of them Champaign-Urbana residents, participated in the commissioning project.

The recital will take place at 8 PM on Friday, August 20, 2010, at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Admission is a $10-15 sliding scale, with no one turned away for lack of funds. RSVPing is encouraged.

Made of a glass bottle, a rubber glove, and water, the udderbot’s quirky appearance and unassuming timbre make it a “friendly” instrument; however, with a range greater than the concert flute’s, the udderbot is no mere novelty. The recital will feature music for solo udderbot player; udderbot with electronics; chamber music with traditional instruments; and multiple udderbots. The udderbot will substitute for its electronic predecessor, the theremin, for the oldest piece on this recital, Martinu’s “Fantasie” from 1944. A majority of the music being performed is “microtonal”, i.e. using notes and intervals that fall “between the keys” of the piano (but are no trouble at all for the udderbot).

Jacob Barton, the udderbot’s chief advocate and only known virtuoso, grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, where his musical hunger led him to learn piano, saxophone, clarinet, bassoon, and musical saw. He studied composition at Rice University, where he received a BMI Student Composer Award for “Xenharmonic Variations on a Theme by Mozart”. His passion for instrument building led serendipitously to the collaborative invention and development of the udderbot, which continues even today. Since 2005, Jacob has played the udderbot in traditional bands, children’s concerts, experimental music venues, theater productions, New York City subway stations, and humanitarian clowning missions in Ecuador.

The recital is a joint presentation between UnTwelve, a Midwest-based organization dedicated to exploring the musical frontiers beyond the 12-note system, and OddMusic-UC, a new compositional co-op and musical instrument library out of the UC-IMC. OddMusic-UC aims to increase everyone’s access to unusual musical experiences, offering radio programs, performances, and instrument making workshops. The udderbot can be built in under an hour using materials available at a hardware store; even so, learning the udderbot takes significantly more time and effort. Jacob will be leading an all-ages udderbot marching band with OddMusic-UC this fall.