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JOE RAUEN

Builder and Performer of

Experimental Musical Instruments

 

Instruments

Contact

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Find me on YouTube, Instagram, or send me an email.

Find videos of these instruments on YouTube

www.youtube.com/channel/UCyYhy1gxueP-YZdqaNEO5aw

Pictures of works in progress on instagram

www.instagram.com/joe_rauen

thejoerauen@gmail.com

 

Blog

 

 
 

Orland Park Library

February 9, 2018

Thank you so much to everyone who came to the Orland Park Public Library! The audience couldn't have been nicer. Many people stayed after to get a closer look and instruments and chat with me. It is clear to me that the coverage in the Daily Southtown and Orland Park Prairie broughtt a lot of people in. an Check out a video from the performance here: https://youtu.be/Faq0JW2Tw4w

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Orland Park Prairie

February 1, 2018

A couple of weeks ago I got to spend an evening talking Bill Jones' ear off.  Luckily he was able to distill that conversation down to its essence, and wrote about it for this week's Orland Park Prairie. My thanks to him for putting together such a lovely piece. Read the article here: http://www.opprairie.com/%E2%80%98-world-just-full-musical-potential%E2%80%99

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Hobart Library

January 28, 2018

Thank you so much to everyone who came to see me speak and play at the Lake County Public Library Hobart Branch. We had a great turnout, and everyone was enthusiastic, attentive, and asked great questions. I owe Branch Manager Erika Stolarz a debt of gratitude for taking a chance on something weird! Check out a video from the performance here: https://youtu.be/FZP55ln9hys

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Daily Southtown

January 23, 2018

I was fortunate enough to speak with and be photographed by Mike Nolan of the Daily Southtown. It was a pleasure to play the Electric Shovel for him. The story ended up making the cover. Read the article here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/news/ct-sta-unusual-instruments-maker-st-0121-20180122-story.html

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Northwest Indiana Times

January 14, 2018

Today I got to see myself on the cover of the Lifestyle Section of the Sunday Northwest Indiana Times. Eloise Valadez did a great job writing the article. Read it at http://www.nwitimes.com/entertainment/music/mixed-media-munster-artist-turns-ordinary-items-into-creative-musical/article_10ea743a-0da2-5495-a037-47576a4661fb.html

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You Are Better Off Going To Home Depot Than Guitar Center: A Manifesto

August 14, 2017

If you are an adult with a little disposable income, and you want to do something creative, you are better off going to Home Depot than Guitar Center.

Let me explain: Let's say you decide that you want to start playing music. You've always been interested in music and you want to do something expressive and creative with your time. Where should you start?

If you go to Guitar Center, you a guaranteed to spend hundreds of dollars. The absolute bare-bone cheapest guitar they sell costs $100. Add a small amp to that and the cost has at least doubled. Now toss in a cord and picks...maybe a strap. Consider that what you've just bought is the absolute bottom of the line equipment and probably will not work very well. Also consider that a guitar is a machine and will need maintenance. You will need to change the strings, and hopefully learn how to do it the right way so your guitar stays in tune. It will need to be "set-up" by a professional luthier. You will have these same headaches if you choose to play the saxophone or the banjo or the drums. Expect to spend a thousand dollars before the first time you get on stage. 

 But before you get on stage you still need to learn to play. Plan to start spending a hundred dollars a month on lessons. Not all lessons are created equal. Just because someone is a skilled guitar player does not mean that they are a skilled teacher. I have taken and given music lessons for a long time and I can tell you it is hit or miss out there. You may have to work with several teachers before you find one that actually helps you improve.

And you are going to have to practice. And it will be tedious. Your good taste and vast knowledge rock history is not going to make the day-to-day work of training your fingers to jump seamlessly from one position to the next any easier. And you will be bad. For a long time. Kids and teenagers have a big advantage over you, and this is why I say "if you are an adult". Young people are oblivious to how bad they are. This is a good thing. This lets them labor on slowly up the mountain of learning to play. 

The real question is after years of continued expenses, lessons, maybe having to change teachers several times, and putting up with the general disapproval of all of your friends and loved ones when you trot out your version of "Hot Crossed Buns", where will you be? The answer is you will probably be an average guitar player. This is not a bad thing. There are plenty of average guitar players who derive enjoyment from hitting the odd open mic night or playing at their local bar once a month. But you will still be a long way off from doing creative work.

You will probably not be making revolutionary music. You will probably be playing the Beatles' Blackbird. Just like everyone else.

Let me offer a different path:

Take your $200 to Home Depot. But first take some of it to eBay. Buy a cello bow with rosin, a pair of timpani mallets, and a saxophone mouthpiece. OK, now go to Home Depot. Check out the sheet metal, coat hooks, and vent grates. These things are musical gold! Rosin up that bow and play all the shovels. A lightweight aluminum snow shovel works great. Bring your saxophone mouthpiece to the plumbing section. PVC is cheap. You could buy several saxophones worth of it for $15. Don't be shy! This is your musical future we're talking about here.

Now that you have this stuff, bring it home and make something out of it. Screw some of those coat hooks to a wooden box for plucking and bowing. Make a simple PVC saxophone or clarinet. Drill different size holes until you get a couple of clear pitches. Mount that shovel to a stand for easy bowing. Did you get any paint? Home Depot does sell paint, you know. Paint your instrument lime green and fuchsia, or whatever color you like. At this point you already have something one of a kind. Something truly one of a kind and that is a powerful and wonderful thing.

But you want to rock? You want to crank the amp up to eleven? No problem. K&K sells contact mics for as little as $30. With some double-sided tape you can attach one to nearly anything and plug it right in. Try a few off-set spatulas attached to a metal breadbox plugged into a Marshall Stack. This, my friends, is actual metal.

 Get a couple of friends involved. Give a pair of mallets and a $10 Home Depot gift card to a friend or two. Show them what you made. If you can get two more people into it then you can plan a demo night. Everyone takes a turn showing off what they made and then have a jam session at the end. Let me assure you this will not be any more chaotic than your first band practice after a year of guitar lessons. This will be fun.

Put videos up on YouTube or Instagram. There is a whole community of people who love this stuff and want to see your work. They have a genuine interest in seeing what you made and that is more than can be said of your version of Blackbird.

 The point is not that it's easier. The point is that there is vast creative real estate waiting to be claimed. The point is the objects all around you are waiting for your creativity to bring them alive and release their hidden music.