Spotlight On: Crank Ensemble East

Crank Ensemble East paid show
 The Scranton Fringe is a performing arts festival, returning for its second year September 29th – October 2nd 2016 to downtown Scranton. With over fifty productions/special events spanning twelve venues to chose from at the festival the task can seem daunting – we are here to help further introduce you to what the Fringe has to offer!
Meet Larnie Fox of San Francisco, part of the 2016 Scranton Fringe’s musical performance Crank Ensemble East.
1. Tell us more about Crank Ensemble East and its history. 
The Crank Ensemble East is based on Crank Ensemble whose motto is  “Making New Music Look Easy”. The Crank Ensemble performs using hand-cranked instruments made by Larnie Fox. The crank is the mechanical version of a loop. The instruments are all made from recycled and repurposed materials, and each includes a piezo contact microphone, and a hand crank. Cranks create rhythmic repetitive patterns that are mixed to create multi-layered sound. This is analogue music with no effects and using no computers. The Ensemble has performed in scores of venues in the Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles including universities, galleries, new music, sound art and noise venues, bars, a rave, a school for the deaf, a former bordello, an aviary, a columbarium, and in front of a big-horn sheep diorama at the Oakland Museum.
As the “Crank Ensemble East”, we plan to engage both local musicians and nonmusicians to create innovative new music. Audience members will be invited to join in the performance, and to explore the sonic possibilities of the instruments in a “show and tell” after the performance as well.

2. What inspired the creation of Crank Ensemble?
The Crank Ensemble had its beginning on the summer solstice of 2005. Artist Larnie Fox had been invited to present a sound installation at the “Garden of Memory” event at a columbarium (a repository for human ashes) in Oakland California. He had planned to have a group small motorized sound sculptures with contact microphones that he could control and amplify, but the motor noise was bothersome. So, he built a group of very low-tech hand cranked instruments, and invited Bodil, friends and acquaintances to play them. The people who volunteered for that first event are the Crank Ensemble. The Crank Ensemble East will be Larnie and his wife Bodil, and volunteers from Scranton and the surrounding area.
 
3. Tell us more about your show in the Scranton Fringe Festival.
Each has a contact microphone (piezo) mounted on it so it can be amplified. The crank is the mechanical version of a loop. By using cranks, we are able to create rhythmic and repetitive patterns easily. We can alter the sound by altering the crank’s speed and direction, and we can also use plucking and scratching. By working in an ensemble, we can create layers of sound.
The resulting sounds are surprisingly pleasing. They can range from sparse new-music style “plinking” to melodic loopiness to hardcore noise.
 
4. What other productions in the 2016 Scranton Fringe Festival are you most excited about / planning on seeing? Have you experienced other Fringes? How are you connected to this area?
It’s all brand new to us! 
 
5. In six words (no more, no less) what would you say to encourage someone to attend Crank Ensemble East’s show?
Making new music look easy today!