Swazzles

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Swazzles

Postby Richard Coombs » 31 Aug 2007, 13:42

Ok guys ..this is a Long Post ...no appologies though - it is a long topic .

If it proves useful to just one other aspiring swazzler it will have been worth it though ...so I offer it up for any adult would-be swazzlers who have found it impossible to date, or for the new batch of very young proffs who have yet to start sticking 'foreign objects' into thier mouths.


I was a non swazzler from the age of 9 until I was 19 when I put Punch and Judy away for about 20 years .. (mostly due to the fact that the voice I 'did' for Punch whilst Ok for me as a kid , was starting to feel a bit 'silly' as an adolescent lad )

Five years ago I started carving my puppets for my personal reanaisance mith 'Mr P' and at the same time tried again with swazzling...again using the swazzles I had bought as a lad ... and also some metal ones I made at the time.

But absolutely no joy ...which made me very dispondant , as I was making all these new puppets and was starting to feel as though I would never have a chance to use them.


Anyone else who has given swazzling a gueniune attempt , but with zero success , might just have a high arched palate like mine.

Dimsiss this out of hand if you want ..but I would bet it is the case.
And I would also guess that the swazzles you are currently trying with are fairly 'flat' and fairly large.

For the technical minded ..this means you dont have a good contact seal between the swazzle and your mouth , so more air ( or as much ) goes over the top of the thing as actualy goes 'through' it -- result no squawk -- Or perhaps worse for the learner who doesnt know how it is supposed to feel ...some Mr Punch voice ..but only when you use huge amounts of puff !

Consequently you think "Surely this isnt how everyone else does it ? This is taking huge amounts of effort" ( but then as everyone is quick to tell you how difficult it all is , you assume that must be how it should feel ...so you give up eventually, as you realise you could never sustain that sort of effort for the duration of a whole show).

The swazzles I purchased as a kid produced a mixture of nothing at all , or a tiny bit of 'Punch voice' but only with lots of effort and puff .

I knew I hadn't been sold 'duds' as the bloody things would make a great 'kazzoo' noise if put between my lips and blown.
This noise was infuriating as it hinted at how good Punch could sound if only I could get it going inside my mouth !

There was also no joy with the ones I made myself back then ( this I realise now is beacuse all I was doing was making them to the exact same dimensions as the bought ones ) ...and why not ? - that is what the "poffessional" ones looked like, it must be right .
There was no Internet back then ..no 'Punch and Judy on the Web' to let me consult other Punchmen .
And the few illustrations I could find in librabry books all gave similar swazzle dimensions .....it was all so frustrating ...it just had to be something that I was doing wrong .

That is why I gave up.

If I hadnt already invested the effort into making a few puppets this time round , I would probably have given up again.

But I do swazzle today .

And the ones I use are more curved and a bit smaller ..consequently they do fit my palate and they do work for me .
None of this would have happened but for Glyn Edwards' "Successful Punch and Judy" book which mentioned plastic swazzles...................a big "Thank You " Glyn

If you have drawn a blank so far , I would urge you before you give up altogether , to spend a little time and try this out :

Round one : Cut up two or three expired credit cards into as many differing sizes of paired rectangles as you can. Use the size of any swazzle you have ( or have seen) as a start point... try a few bigger ..but mostly try a good few smaller sizes.

Even try out some radically longer shapes. Make more than one set of each size as well

Get whatever cotton tape you can find in your local sewing machine shop or haberdashers ( you can start the eternal quest for the 'perfect ' weave and weight of tape at a later date once you have achieved some success .. but for now anything will do )


Heat the rectangles with a hairdryer , holding them in the jetstream using two spent long matchsticks (sometimes called 'cooks' matches ) as improvised 'tweasers' to hold the plastic -- or wooden chopsticks are good too...anything that won't heat up and burn your fingers.

A D.I.Y 'Heatgun' softens the plastic much faster if you happen to have one , but a hairdryer on full heat will do .

The plastic will quite suddenly go all floppy - take it out of the heat , and give it a second or two so it is not too hot to handle- then bend the palstic into curves while still mallable and drop them instantly into a glass of cold water.

I'm taking nothing for granted here , so I will say that you need to heat and bend each bit of plastic one at a time.....but having made one curve , you can shape the next warm bit of plastic over the first to get a reasonable 'pair' ( so long as the first one is cold and wet they shouldnt stick together )

Try as many different depths of curve as you can from shallow to quite arched.

Then tie 'em up with pre soaked cotton tape ( sorry if I am covering ground you already know ...but some of the books handily omit to tell you that you should only work with wet tape , not dry)


Again vary the slackness/ taugtness of the tape across the different swazzles.


I think you will be extremely unlucky if you dont have a glimmer of hope with one swazzle if you make a variety of about 18 or so.

Work out what it is about that one that made it better for you than the rest? Was it the size? , the curve? , or the tapes tightness ( or lack of)?

Unfortunatly you still have a lot of variables.

So all you can do is repeat the process .. Round 2 ...but this time cut all the palstic rectangles to the size that showed most promise.

Use that size ..but make several sets of differing curvature.


Tie the tape through all of them ...but this time all at one tightness ( that which produced your first 'sucessful' one)

Experiment with those.

Which curvature allows you to produce the best noise when the swazzle is ' in position ' in your mouth ?

This 'position' is where your arched tongue touches the roof of your mouth or soft palate or meeting place of the two ...forget where anyone else tells you it should sit ..its your gob ..and it goes where your anatomy dictates.


When you find the one that fits best and gives the best results ..yes youve guessed it : Round three: now you make several swazzles all of that same size and curve ( you have a little less work here , as the plastic will bend again with more aplied heat ..so you can re-use the swazzles from 'round 2 ' of tests )

Now make them all up with different slackness of tape and try again.

By trial and error you will find the best swazzle for you


With any luck by this stage a few of them will work quite well

Find the optimum one ( the one that lets you get most squawk and sound out for minimum breath pressure )

ONLY THEN are you at the same start point as everyone else who first picks up a swazzle with the intention of mastering it ( They have been luckier than you so far, in that the dimensions of the ones shown in books ..and /or the ones offered for sale , are of a size and type naturally suited to their flatter mouths)

Now you have an even playing field ... It does not mean that you wont have to work long and hard to master it ... it doesn't mean it wont make you gag and heave at first ..it doesnt mean you wont get a sore mouth for a while when using it .........but it does mean you will have a reasonable chance of success.


Like me , it might mean you have a swazzle that will do the job , but wont give the full range of 'musicality' that some of the best swazzlers can get from thier differently shaped ones .
On the other hand they may only get such lovely stuff out of theirs because of years of practice ; who knows?

This I intend to find out for myself ..as I have no intention of saying "Right that's as good as my swazzling will ever be" ...I will make it a lifetime challenge to keep practicing , to search for different types of cotton tape ( which apparently drastically effects the tone)

Sometime soon I also intend to try metal plates again to see what difference that makes to me ( now that I know what size and curve to make them to) .......Plastic is so good for the ease and speed of making it gives , I would have given up long ago if metal was the only route.


This 'three round' method of elimination will take you a few fiddly evenings of messing about. But in the long run isn't that better than months of trying with an unsuitable swazzle that is wrong for you ? ( no matter how right it is for the next guy )

If all you ever get is failure , no matter how hard you try - is it any wonder people give up ?

This way, you should see a glimmer of hope fairly fast ..at least something you can start to build on .

Good Luck


Richard
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Postby Professor Eek » 31 Aug 2007, 20:19

Many thanks Richard - still trying with the one you made for me but have bought tape a while back and will now try making some.

I didn't know about making them with wet tape - special thanks for that tip.

On a different subject - did you get my e-mail?
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Postby billywand » 31 Aug 2007, 21:16

There is some great advice on this web site under "swazzle talk", especially regarding the speed, or apparent speed of changing voices.

This I found very helpfull. Many thanks to Chris.

I also found, thanks to a tip from a friend, that a fair bit if tape wrapped round the swazzle makes it more comfortable to use, and also hehps to lessen, or seal that gap Richard talks about.

P.S. Eek is coming to Kidology with a couple of us next week. He dosn't know it yet, but we are determined to get him swazzling!!!!!!!
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Postby Professor Joe » 03 Sep 2007, 13:29

Mark Poulton gave me some brilliant advice when i was in weymouth about a month back. dont boil the tape soak it in warm water, boiling it can damage the tape. if you think you have tied an alright swazzle soak it in normal mouth wash like blisterine and the whole tone can change totaly. another way of disinfecting swazzles is in tea with no milk and it works as a brilliant disisfectant dont soak for a long time only about 10 15 mins. just keep trying as long as you have a few working swazzles play around with other ones !
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Postby lesclarke » 03 Sep 2007, 14:37

The bit in Richards extensive research and findings I can relate to is that for me a smaller than usual swazzle produces the ideal sound, but then it is just a bit too easy to swallow.

There may be something in the theory, that with certain shape of gob, and a too large swazzle air is not all flowing through the swazzle, as the best swazzles I've ever had were small and produced lots of sound from minimal effort. With larger swazzles I've nearly matched the sound, but it take more effort.

It's all very subjective after all, but now and then a swazzle is 'as good as it gets', and for me they have usually been small. A really good swazzle gets you more exited, and so brings more chance of swallowing it!

Making a single swazzle is time consuming, but making 4 or even 6 is fairly efficient. Working in metal need not be that much slower with the right tools, and in some ways sounds less fiddly, but I've yet to try plastic.
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Postby Richard Coombs » 03 Sep 2007, 16:19

Hello Les.

Come to think of it , Glyns swazzle was a small-ish one - at least the one a saw a few years back when he was kind enough to take me fro a stroll on Aberystwyth beach , so we could have uninterrupted toots thru our swazzles - ( I had just made a couple that were finally working for me , and he gave me some practical tips on usuing them )

The fiddling about in 3 rounds in plastic , as detailed in my last post , is far too much faff for most newcomers ..who to be frank will probably take like ducks to water to the first swazzle they buy.

It really is only offered up as a' last chance saloon' for the persistantly unsuccessful , as a way of eliminating 'odd mouth shape' from the list of "Why cant I do this! " frustrations.


Prof Joe ...ooh I like your warm tea as a swazzle idea ..thanks to you and Mark for that ..I must try it out.
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try and test it!

Postby Trev » 12 Jan 2008, 20:33

Just a warning for those who try their first homemade swazzle straight in a show... make sure it can last the distance. I tried it myself today and to begin with it worked fine. However, after ten minutes Punch was talking like he had had a full mouthfull of anaesthetic at the denthithtth.

Luckily the show wath only fiththeen minitth!
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Re: Swazzles

Postby Richard Coombs » 13 Jul 2014, 01:20

I only reopen this very old thread as an example to martinpunch of the diverse information on this board if you are willing to look through it in some depth.

This thread actually came up when i typed ' swizzle tape' into Safai search engine.

Best of luck Martin ...dont give up on it .
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Re: Swazzles

Postby martinpunch » 14 Jul 2014, 08:28

Thank you I won't I have http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/170899595843 some more tape on order :D

JUst hope it works better than the last lot I brought http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/121166425375?var=420167597608&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649.

I just wish I knew what tape to buy from somewhere online :(
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Re: Swazzles

Postby lesclarke » 14 Jul 2014, 14:38

It's just been a very busy nine days for me Martin, and perhaps I should have mentioned this earlier.

I have a stock of Herringbone Cotton tape that I can supply from, it is 13mm wide and in my experience is good to work with and reliably produces good sounding swazzles.

If you still need tape after trying your latest purchases, private message me, and we can discuss it.
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Re: Swazzles

Postby martinpunch » 16 Jul 2014, 18:44

Thanks Les I have now got some similar tape. I have retied one of the swazzles but it is a bit high pitched.

I wonder if I have tied it too tight. The one I brought sounds fine to me, perhaps I just need to practice with it more, what do you think?
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Re: Swazzles

Postby lesclarke » 16 Jul 2014, 21:56

As has been already said, if the wrapped wet swazzle produces a good tone when blown through whilst held at the lips, then you can move on and try and learn the technique of using it inside your mouth. Otherwise you obviously have no chance of it ever producing a decent sound from within your mouth.

The first few times you wrap a swazzle it will be fiddly, and very likely unsuccessful. But each time you wrap it, your technique will improve.

After you have wrapped the soggy tape, running it between the two plates, with a small overlap at the start, and keeping it NOT TAUT, but following the curve of the 'bottom' plate, (it helps that it is wet and clings to the plate) and then around both plates two times. (This works for me)

And ... BEFORE YOU trim the length and TIE IT OFF you can TEST if it is producing anything like a decent sound by carefully holding it to your lips and blowing.

If it is a decent sound, try not to disturb it, and tie it off, find your own method of wrapping and tying with cotton thread.

If it's a poor sound, wrap it again, and again, and again. Your improving technique and understanding of what makes a good wrap should bring improvements.
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Re: Swazzles

Postby martinpunch » 18 Jul 2014, 18:31

So... That's the way to do it!

Thanks Les you're a star!
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Re: Swazzles

Postby martinpunch » 21 Jul 2014, 08:10

Dear Les
Further to above, I have now made quite a few swazzles and I have found during the making that you can tailor the shape to you mouth by putting a half piece in and making it fit perfectly the arch at the back of your mouth (then a bit smaller to accomodate the tape).
This one is the most comfortable and "plays" very easily. Now I will wrap and rewrap it until I get the right tone. But I am going to let it dry out first. It is a bit quieter and higher pitched at the moment.
I will then copy it a few times and make very slight changes to this size.
The tape seems fine that I brought, but I might still get some of yours to be sure.
I will do a show on Wednesday and see if I can use it for that (with me metal one close by and ready to go)
I am also going to get a florin and make an authentic one based on this.
I didnt make vid - they don't seem to make everyone happy.

Rgs

Martin
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Re: Swazzles

Postby lesclarke » 25 Aug 2014, 21:45

I have had a very good summer with my swazzling, taking 4 swazzles to each job, and choosing the best 2 to keep out as main swazzle and backup. They are each wrapped with different coloured cotton, and It is interesting that swazzles can come in and out of 'tune', what is perhaps third choice for a few days will, without fiddling suddenly perhaps become second choice. Fiddling will bring greater changes, good or bad, I usually fiddle first with the fourth choice swazzle, as there is 'less to lose'

Point is, no one told me to to use this method, I worked out my own approach that seems to work for me, and I reckon this is very much the way to tackle so much of Punch & Judy practicalities, as being such a small community there is unlikely to be a mentor on hand.

I have noticed recently that my regular first choice swazzle, a lovely deep tone, requiring little effort, is split on its 'leading edge' (of the direction I use it in.) ..and I think I have noticed this before, that a swazzle is sometimes at its best near the end of its life, when the leading edge is slightly damaged. Is it possible that a dangly rough edge could produce a more 'raspberry type sound?

Anyone else noticed something similar?
Does anyone else 'damage' their leading edge to produce a better sound?
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