David Van Tieghem is a sonic scavenger. The percussionist, who will demonstrate the art of noise at the Wax Museum tomorrow, always keeps an ear open and a tape recorder ready for novel noises -- he's the kind of guy who visits country flea markets to ping the glass lampshades and clang the iron frying pans.
Part musician, part mad inventor, Van Tieghem can coax tunes from trash. "It'll be just me with a lot of my stuff," Van Tieghem says of his one-man show, which features some mime, some movement, but mostly Van Tieghem hovering over two metal tables covered with percussion instruments and non-instruments -- masking tape, scrap metal, water cooler jugs, steel mixing bowls, music boxes. "There's a way to make anything melodic," says Van Tieghem, who has been experimenting with digital synthesizers. "You can take the sound of a metal ashtray and make it music by electronically changing its pitch."
Van Tieghem picked up the sticks at age 12 -- "I was lucky, my parents didn't complain too much," he says. Lately, he has been recording and touring with such cutting-edge types as Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich and Talking Heads bassist Jerry Harrison.
Last year, Van Tieghem was commissioned by Twyla Tharp to score a dance work called "Fait Accompli." Building the music sound by sound, he constructed an intricate, compulsively danceable aural collage featuring sounds of breaking glass, wailing sirens and voices from the past. The music can be heard on his first album, "These Things Happen" (Warner Bros.).