WHEN THE WILD INSTRUMENT SING l
Sherko Abbas developed a musical instrument from a small handmade object called a Damaqachan, which translates into English as spoke. In Iraq a Damaqachan is a simple handmade toy constructed from spokes, nails and matches which sets off small explosives. The instrument is constructed under the same logic, when played issuing random sounds of explosion. While it has to be operated by a human, it is difficult to control and to anticipate what sort of music can be made with it.
Abbas is fascinated by the way in which the object has its own relative autonomy. In the first event, to animate the instrument Abbas collaborated with three Iraqi artists, Khabat Abdulrazaq, playing the cello, composer Hardi Kurda and artist Kani Majid playing the Daff. Through improvisation they give voice to the instrument and test its form and how it responds to other, more conventional, musical instruments. In creating this Iraqi instrument in the UK, Abbas is conscious of the way in which it is inextricably linked to a background of war and distraction. He does not use it to make commentary or judgment, but through it he demonstrates how war has been absorbed into local culture, and how the vernacular has changed as a result of it.
After presenting the first edition of (when the wild instrument sings) Abbas started preparing the second edition. This time he asked Hardi Kurda who participated in the firs edition, to draw some symbols or sketch that can help them to find a way that they could put the instrument in a communication with another instruments. However, for a while Kurda visited sherko’s studio daily until he was able to create a sketch on the same principles of the instrument, and he named (pull and release) which is part of what the instrument is used in such a way. The performance was collaborated with Khabat Abas, and Hardi Kurda at goldsmith university in 2015.
In 2017, the third edition of the instrument was made. Just like the previous editions a few changes were made including adding a bicycle wheel to create a noise. In this performance Abbas once more collaborated with khabat, who had made her own cello like instrument from animal skin which she calls (the vibration of skin). This performance was an improvisation between two instruments, which their sound can hardly be controlled, so they will become part of the sound production.