Flip Baber – aka Johnny Random – was commissioned to write the Christmas card piece in November. He was approached via Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Specialized’s ad agency since 1999.
Baber told BikeBiz.com: "I used a mountain bike and road bike and they were Specialized bikes. I am a mountain biker and Rich Silverstein is a cyclist as well.
"I recorded all the takes at different points during one day since there was construction going on near my studio. The next day I edited the sounds and took the best takes and then everything was interpreted and composed within about 4-5 hours, including the mixdown.
"I came up with some really far out sounds in my bike recordings, but couldn’t use them on this project because they were either too dissonant or weren’t easily recognizable as ‘bike’ sounds."
The ‘happy holidays’ card and music has just gone live on the Specialized website. The piece is a glockenspiel-free rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ from ‘The Nutcracker Suite.’
Baber also discusses the mechanics of the production on the Create Digital Music website.
The glockenspiel and clarinet melody was created with spokes. The cello and violin pizzicatos were created with plucked derailleur cables. The tingly triangle was a bash on to a disc brake.The percussion was a medley of shifting, coasting, finger over turning spokes, chain pulls, braking, clipping into pedals, back-spinning, and air pssssing out of tyres.
This isn’t the first time bicycles have been used in a musical composition. In 1980 Godfried-Willem Raes first staged his Second Symphony for ‘Singing Bicycles’, an "open air event scored for a minimum of twelve cyclists with their own bicycles."
Like the Specialized christmas card, this also has a visual element: there’s a light show produced by dynamo-driven lights on the bicycles.