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Chris Humphrey

How would you describe your music?

"The Annoying Instrument Orchestra plays ethnic music from around the world -- a lot of Balkan and a lot of Scandinavian, but also music from all parts of Europe and South America.

Heralds and Minstrels plays Renaissance and Baroque music.

I compose choral music as well as experimental electronic music. I also write for film and theatre, so I have a wide range, depending on the project."

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

"In The Annoying Instrument Orchestra, I am pretty much just an instrumentalist (with some harmony vocals from time to time). Decisions are made as a group.

In Heralds and Minstrels, I am also a multi-instrumentalist, but I am more active in promoting the band."

Describe your gear.

I use an ancient Conn bassoon; a Buffet Crampon A Clarinet built in 1905; an old metal Bb clarinet. I use a cheap medieval hurdy gurdy and an expensive French style baroque hurdy gurdy built in Hungary. I play a custom made agave LOW Bb didgeridoo, a LOW B didgeridoo made from eucalyptus by an aboriginal artist, and a cheap plastic didj in the key of D. My recorders are mid to professional range. I have a Yamaha keyboard that I use for work at home, but I need a stage keyboard. I have a ceramic dumbek and an assortment of ethnic drums and percussion instruments. I make some of my own percussion instruments from bone and wood. I have an Eb sousaphone that I'm learning at the moment, but I haven't played it with the band yet.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

At the age of 60, things look a lot different than they did when I was 30. In my thirties (the 1980s), I felt I had to put my music on hold in order to raise my family. It was only after my children were grown that I felt free enough to do music again. Even today I think it would be difficult to try to balance children and the life of a musician.

Related Themes: Old School vs. New School Off The Clock

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I think today's generation of women musicians are a lot more savvy than previous generations. There are more resources available to everyone, regardless of gender -- for example, classes on business strategies for artists, health support organizations for artists,etc.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

No one gave me any advice. I'm still re-inventing the wheel for myself, learning as I go. If I were to mentor a woman musician just starting out, I would ask her, "is this something you HAVE to do?" Because if it is, she'll know it. And if it is, then I would encourage her to put her work out there, to make as many contacts as she can, to set herself some concrete goals and to stay focused on them rather than all the distractions, promises and lies that will come her way.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

Playing a large number of instruments adds tonal color and variety to the music I play in my bands and also gives me a versatility that makes me hire-able for freelance projects.

Related Themes: The First Time