instrument-a-day 19: garden gramophone

Instrument-a-day 19: Garden Gramophone

Instrument-a-day 19: Garden Gramophone

Instrument-a-day 19: Garden Gramophone

Fruit crate, found twigs, hardware, piezoelectric disc, sewing needle, hot glue, and "Walk This Way" by RUN-D.M.C.

I don’t have a record player, so it was time to make one out of whatever I had lying around. It sounds like this.

(mailing list archive) noisy news

Instrument-a-day month is two-thirds over and I’ve only fallen behind by one day! So far I’ve made squawkers, hissers, squeakers, plonkers, and various other noisemakers, all of which you can see at <>

And on Wednesday March 4th, 8pm, I’ll be performing with some of these and other homemade instruments at Barbes in Brooklyn — I’ll be joined by friends, probably including the Glass Bees <> to buzz and sputter for the night. If you’re in the NYC area, please join us! Come an hour or two early and we’ll be doing an informal handmade instrument workshop. (Please me know if you think you’ll be coming.)

In early April, Nick and Aaron and I hope to unveil our sound sculpture for the lobby of the Coney Island Museum. If all goes well, the piece will continue to grow after the opening, as we add more and more mechanical instruments to it until it takes over most of the museum. More details next month! <>

As poet Elizabeth Alexander recited during the recent inaugural address:

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

Keep making noise!

– ranjit

instrument-a-day 18: bent music box

Instrument-a-day 18: Bent Music Box

Instrument-a-day 18: Bent Music Box

A strong magnet distorts the sound of a music box by warping the tines. It’s recorded through a hand-wound magnetic pickup, and it sounds like this. (There’s no processing added to the sound except for noise reduction.)

Thanks to k for the music box!

instrument-a-day 17: steel chimes

Instrument-a-day 17: Steel Chimes

Instrument-a-day 17: Steel Chimes

1/8" steel rod, found wood, hand-wound magnetic pickup, played through a cheap battery-powered amplifier for a bit of that KONONO N°1 sound. Inspired by the chimes made by Nathan Davis for Phyllis Chen (but not made with nearly as much skill or artistry). It’s played with drumsticks.

The steel chimes sound like this (warning: loud! but for best results you should turn it up even louder.)

instrument-a-day 16: shishi odoshi

Instrument-a-day 16: Shishi Odoshi

Instrument-a-day 16: Shishi Odoshi

Another way to use up waste bamboo that was too split up for a wind instrument. Though a real shishi odoshi (deer scarer) would use good bamboo and make a much nicer sound. The sticks are gathered from the park; the pivot is steel rod through an aluminum tube (leftover from the slide guitar).

It sounds like this. (video here)

instrument-a-day 15: leftovers guitar

Instrument-a-day 15: Leftovers Guitar

Instrument-a-day 15: Leftovers Guitar

This length of bamboo was going to be a clarinet until it split all down its length, so I took some leftover bits of wire and aluminum tubing and a guitar string from the servo guitar and made this. The shape makes it almost impossible to hold and play at the same time, but eventually it sounds like this.

The open tube shape gives a tiny bit of acoustic amplification out the ends, but it’s still not very loud.

instrument-a-day 13: bamboo flute

Instrument-a-day 13: Bamboo Flute

Instrument-a-day 13: Bamboo Flute

The park near my house is a collection point for old christmas trees to be recycled. Someone dumped a bunch of bamboo in the pile (christmas bamboo?) so I grabbed a stalk and let it dry for a month. This bamboo really wants to split – in fact, I can hear the flute spontaneously disintegrating in the other room.

This is a Native-American-style flute (two chambers, with an external air passage connecting the two) made with guidance from Sammy Tedder’s page.

It sounds like this.

instrument-a-day 11: windchime

Instrument-a-day 11: Windchime

Clay pots, wood, brass, and hardware. (The flower pots had a previous life as companions to Trumpet Marine!)

It’s a very windy day today so I wanted to make a windchime. Sorry about the sound quality, but, well, it’s windy. You can hear birds singing and other people’s windchimes in the background. It sounds like this.