Norman Gadd Percussion



A month or so ago, a very interesting collection of percussion instruments was put up for auction and I wondered about its providence, put it on a watch list and kinda forgot about it… A week or so later, I decided to put a bid on it and as the auction deadline approached I checked back and someone had asked the seller who the collection belonged to… Turns out the collection belonged to Norman Gadd who was a percussionist with the NZ Symphony Orchestra for 33 years, and died in 2012 aged 80.

The auction deadline finally arrived and I managed to fend off two other fervent bidders, paying more than I wanted to but decided it was too rare an opportunity to pass. When I picked up the collection it turns out it was Norman Gadds son who sold it, who is also a percussionist but is primarily electric now. Imagine the feeling, opening boxes of percussion instruments collected up over a lifetime! For example a quick google search turns up this photo taken in 1945 of Norman Gadd as a boy, with a beautiful drum kit set up in the garden. On the kit is a set of four temple blocks, and in one of the boxes was a larger set of seven temple blocks as well as two giant temple blocks, all the same design as in that 76 year old photo.

Funnily enough the name Norman Gadd also reminded me of some vinyl I had seen, and sure enough:

Every instrument I pulled out of the boxes is a delight, but there were also a few larger items: a gong, a bass drum, a small xylophone/glock, timbales, tambourines, wood blocks, a bell tree that covers almost 2 octaves…
But one of the most fascinating to me, is a cloth bag full of whistles:

While some of these are variations of a sports whistle, there is a series of animal sounds eg cow, duck caller etc and some truly vintage Acme animal sounds (a rabbit call!) But one whistle at first stumped me, until I realised it only works on the in-breath! There is also a larger slide whistle which has almost zero friction on the slider – well used, perfectly maintained and capable of crazy pitch slides!

I do intend to document this collection individually, as I record material with them. Some will end up in HISSandaROAR sound libraries, others eventually into Kontakt instruments, while many will make appearances in music I am working on.

I feel it is important to keep the collection together – many people apparently contacted the seller asking for the collection to be broken up and sold off individually, but I don’t think that is the right thing to do. Once such a collection becomes dispersed, it will never even be remembered as being a part of the Norman Gadd collection, and its history will be lost.

There is one set of props in the collection I am recording next week for a HISSandaROAR UNIT FX Library, so I’ll explain more about them once it is available.





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