Matt Venuti explores frontiers of melodic hand percussion

From Staff Reports
Black Mountain News|USA TODAY NETWORK

The 21st century has witnessed a flurry of innovation in musical instrument design. Completely new instruments have emerged in both the acoustic and electronic realms, and visionary artists like Matt Venuti are discovering ways to integrate the organic and the digital in their work.

His signature sound is the Hang drum, a Swiss melodic/percussive instrument developed in 2000, but he’s also a proponent of the Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI), a wind synthesizer controller with which he creates lush, symphonic textures.

Matt Venuti will perform his blend of acoustic and electric music at the White Horse on Sunday, Aug. 12.

Venuti tours constantly, and one of his next stops will be the White Horse Black Mountain, where he'll take the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12.

Venuti is a singer-songwriter whose chosen instruments deviate from the singer-with-a-guitar template. A long time force in the ambient and world music scenes of the San Francisco Bay area, he was attracted early on the the possibilities of Akai’s EVI, a synth controller that allows the player to use breath and brass instrument fingering technique to access an infinite variety of digital tone colors.

He was hired to tour as a demonstrator of the instrument, while also working with his band, The Venusians, whose career took off after George Lucas hired them to stand in for the cantina band at an event celebrating the release of the first Star Wars prequel.

As successful as he was in the digital realm, Venuti was experiencing what he calls “electronic overload”. His search for an acoustic alternative led him to the Hang (pronounced ‘hong”, and meaning “hand” in Swiss German), a tuned metal instrument resembling a fling saucer and played percussively with the hands.

The ethereal Hang, and other instruments created later by the same inventors, quickly became his instrument of choice for composition and for song accompaniment.

Venuti states that the Hang has “offered me a unique expression that has deepened my connection to the world, to music and to sound."

Want to see Matt Venuti blend acoustic and electric sounds?

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

When: 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 12

How: Tickets are available in advance for $12 and $15 at the door. For more information visit whitehorseblackmountain.com