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Elemental Soundscapes: feeltone Company AQUA Video  (and behind the scenes of filming with the feeltone team in Germany

Elemental Soundscapes: feeltone Company AQUA Video (and behind the scenes of filming with the feeltone team in Germany

This past summer, We Play Well Together's Creative & Community Director Joule L'Adara traveled to Germany to work directly with our instrument builder the feeltone Company, helping to create a series of videos for our new Elemental Soundscapes instrument collections. 

We're thrilled to finally share the first video for the WATER COLLECTION: where you can watch how a group of people may co-create sonic storytelling by weaving the different timbres of sounds in and out of each other and build into a cresendo where all the instruments may be played together at once. With our new matched collections, any group of musicians (or non-musicians!) can create profound sound journeys by playing with one another, which in turn is an emotionally deep and profound experience to be a part of. Watch now! (we recommend listening with headphones)

A Collaboration between the feeltone Company and WE PLAY WELL TOGETHER, this video is the first of a series of four videos that will be released over the coming year: one for each element. 

The team in Germany playing instruments in this video are: founder of feeltone Ingo Böhme on the Tinka Tong Aqua and Zenko Element Aqua by Metal Sounds and creator of the feeltone Monochord Sound Massage Training (also Ingo's wife): Martina Gläser-Böhme on the feeltone Monolina in D:

                Ingo Böhme, founder of the feeltone Company.            Martina Gläser-Böhme, creator of the feeltone Sound Massage Training

Joining them are: Director of Marketing for feeltone Daniel Shuh on the feeltone Monolini in D, plus newest feeltone team member Katharina Vadersen who created the beautiful Elemental Sounscapes graphic design and coordinated the entire video shoot project from scouting locations to set decoration - here playing the Koshi Aqua. Maik Riobort directed the video as well as worked the camera, and his daughter Anouk (Martina's granddaughter!) danced in the video in and around lake Pulow (which is located within walking distance of the feeltone Instrument building workshop!)

Daniel Shuh, Director of Marketing at the feeltone Company plays Monolini Katharina Vandersen of the feeltone Company plays the Koshi Chime Joule L'Adara plays the Hokema Sansula

We Play Well Together's Joule L'Adara is also in this video as she traveled to Northern Germany in July of 2023 to take part in this project - in this video playing the Sansula by Hokema in the D-minor Aqua tuning. This trip was a deeply beautiful (yet very challenging) experience for Joule. Prior to the summer, she'd worked for weeks putting together recommendations for tunings for the instruments, in particular the new Tinka Tong Elements. (See photo below that shows her messy floor with wood drum protypes, tuning devices, and sticky notes.)

Product Development of WE PLAY WELL TOGETHER instruments

The arrival in Germany for Joule was emotional as she'd previously lived in Berlin but hadn't returned in 18 years! She attempted to brush up her German as for this video series she served as musical director. The group spent a week rehearsing in a lovely garden house near the feeltone headquarters, with Joule endeavoring to share musical ideas in a language she hadn't spoken regularly in some time. (Fortunately the German team was very kind and encouraging). Here's a moment from our rehearsal with Director Maik in the backyard:

Music and Film Rehearsal in the backyard

A lot of fun discoveries were made about the instruments during this rehearsal process - amazing that even those who build the instruments can be delighted by all the different ways they can be played! Long hours of rehearsing and filming also require playtime and jokes in between playing the music: 

Ingo Böhme makes a visual joke with the drum mallets in his eyes

The videos for all four elements were shot in nearby outdoor locations all within a week's time. On the day of the water video, the group was gathering at 7am to tromp through the woods around Pulow lake. The entire day was spent in this location as multiple takes needed to be shot from far away and close up. The film shoot was "green" in that the Audio-Video equipment was charged by solar panels: 

Solar Panels in the forest for charing AV Equiptment

Many times the action needed to stop for intermittent rain so the instruments and sound equipment could be covered from the water, then set up again to keep going. Here are photos (left to right) of Director Maik behind the camera, Audio Engineer Mo brining gear through the woods in a wheelbarrow, and Katharina decorating the film set:

Film Director and Cameraman Maik behind the scenes of our Aqua video           Audio Recorder Mo with a wheelbarrow full of gear           feeltone sets up for our Water Video Shoot

Though exhausting, it was a lot of fun had too with many moments of lightness during the creative process. The laughter at the beginning of this video was a spontaneous moment captured and it felt so right to begin the video with it.

Group of feeltone team in Germany playing instruments and laughing

Playing these instruments does create community, connection, and camaraderie (even amongst those who make and sell them!)

feeltone Tinka Tong Aqua - with excited feeltone makers

After a long day shooting the water video, many of the team jumped in the lake for a late-afternoon swim followed by a family-team meal. (It being Northern Germany in summer it doesn't get dark until after 10pm at night!) 

feeltone team eating a meal outdoors

After departing ways, there were additional challenges bring this video to share with the public. There are different systems for video recording in the US and Europe and it wasn't easy to share large video editing projects. The audio recordings sometimes distorted because the wind had overloaded microphones. Attempting to remove the wind sounds from the audio took away from the depth and color of the instruments as well as the ambiance of the natural sounds. Multiple versions of the audio needed to be creatively mixed together to both make the instruments sound vibrant but avoid the digital distortions. A trick was used by taking the recorded sounds of water (which is the actual splashing of water by the dancer in the video) to mask and balance out the soundscape, and additional mixing and mastering was needed from audio pro Sean Savage of AR Media. Fortunately, the sound effect of water is perfect for the Aqua collection and Joule likes to geek out on audio mixing. Here's a shot of her volume editing in Protools:  

Protools Audio Project - for Elemental Soundscapes Water Video

While a DIY video project, this nevertheless was a huge labor of love and over a year in the making. We hope this video inspires you to play well together with others and to know what is possible when all the instruments in our Elemental Soundscapes collections are played together. Look out in the coming months for the release of the videos of the other elements!

A dancer moves with feet in a lake

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