Animal noises; sounds of the sea; high octane jazz drumming; a few bars of Beethoven and the sounds of birds. All of these, and more, were conjured up by Dean Yhnell using just his voice and a microphone. With violinist Angharad Jenkins, Dean is half of a duo called String Beats. They gave a lunchtime performance at the Lion Hotel, an adventurous piece of programming for Shropshire Music Trust which attracted a large audience -some of them very young.
Angharad played on a conventional violin for all but one number for which she used an electric fiddle. Her tone is rich, gloriously sonorous and as rhythmically secure as her partner’s. They played some traditional Welsh tunes, a bit of hip-hop and some rap. Rhythm was the key to every number; about 8 young children stood on their chairs and clapped in time; Dean rewarded them by bringing them to the front and getting them dancing! It was a delight to see such obvious pleasure and proved what a superb communicator and teacher Dean is. On this visit, String Beats are also running the programme at several schools and care homes.
Before we all joined in, we learned that Beat Boxing started in 1980’s New York as an attempt to mimic drum machines with the human voice. The range of sounds possible is amazing and often, along with the fiddle convinced us we were hearing several instruments.
Angharad explained that she had spent longer than intended on an island off the west coast of Scotland – she wrote a hauntingly beautiful tune called “Stranded”. It was exquisite, as was their final number, “The Sea Monster” by Welsh musician Simon Owen. This featured the fiddle and the sound effects which brilliantly portrayed the sounds of the sea. A fitting end to a gig which the audience loved, not least because it gave them plenty of scope for joining in – a lovely lunchtime event.