Volumes 13-14 (1997-1999)
This page contains synopses of articles appearing in the Experimental Musical Instruments journal, Volumes 13 and 14.
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VOLUME 13 #1, SEPTEMBER 1997
Letters and Notes. 9 pages; 4 photos; 5 drawings.
Grant Strombeck: Noise is our fundamental nature. Tony Cowdroy: In response to Bill Houck’s letter in March ’97 issue; describes a cuckoo call. Bob Grawi: Natural horns without valves; Gravikord, an electric diatonic double harps. Peter Etcetera: The Drumball. Dr. Guy Grant and Oddmus, a free e-mail list covering experimental, ethnic, and unusual musical instruments. Corrections to article about a sound device called LIFE. Het Apollohuis, the Dutch venue for innovative art and music forced to close. New organization for Jew’s Harp enthusiasts. Randy Moeller and the Vulcan Lyrette. Mandocrucian’s Digest, the mandolin magazine no longer publishing; back issues still available. Gerard Westendorp and Pyrophones. Keith Spears’ and Industrial Chimes and buzzers. Ben Cohen on instruments built from ultrasonic humidifier tanks. Dave Knott and the Metaphone. Sam Pappas and the Horn Harp. Websites of interest to EMI readers.
“Speech Production and Four Historical Speech Synthesis Projects”: Martin Riches. 6+ pages; 3 photos; 3 drawings; 4 diagrams.
In the 1st of 2 articles on speech synthesis, the author describes the mechanics of speech production. This is followed by a description of four important historical synthetic speech devices: Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein; free reed organ reed; Von Kempelen’s Speaking Machine; Joseph Faber’s Euphonia; The Voder (Voice Operation DemonstratoR).
“Sirens: Pt. 2″: Bart Hopkin. 3+ pages; 2 photos.
In the second part of a two part series, the author describes a pair of simple musical sirens he made with the idea of passing on some of the practical design and construction information picked up along the way. Includes a scale making chart [additional keywords: electric motor].
Book Reviews. 1 1/2 pages.
John Edfors: Woodwind Instruments From PVC: Guidelines For Constructing Experimental Instruments From PVC Pipe and Related Materials [additional keywords: flute; fife].
Bill and Mary Buchen: Urban Sound Park Design
John Madin: Make Your Own Wacky Instruments
Robert B. Sexton: Method For The Theremin, Book 1, Basics;
David Winters: Natural and Artificial Harmonics For The Guitar
“Balloon Boom”: Text and drawings by Robin Goodfellow. 1+ pages; 3 drawings.
This article is dedicated to building the Tin Can Balloon Drum, a very simple yet resourceful percussive device, with an eye to its use with children. In addition, Goodfellow offers some cultural lore, rudimentary principles of sound, a song with which the instrument can be used and lastly, a small list of further reading [additional keywords: drums; percussion, children's instruments].
“Chinese Wind-Driven Kite Flutes”: K.U. Wahl. 4+ pages; 6 photos; 6 drawings.
Part one of this article consists of some historical background (dating back to 960 AD) on Kite Flutes. Part two consists of instructions on how to build a small Kite Flute, including excellent photographs of examples. Includes bibliography [additional keywords: aeolian harp; zither].
“Slate”: Will Menter. 4+ pages; 9 photos.
The author describes his fascination with slate as a material (for instruments) and provides interesting background on the British slate industry’s exploitation of the Welsh and its consequences. He describes his slate marimbas and llechiphones. Finally, he describes two of his collaborations with other traditional musicians and sound sculptors and their consequent performances combining both his social and musical interests [additional keywords: xylophones; harp; stones].
“Building Modular Drums From Plastic Pipe and Plywood”: Bennett Cohen. 4+ pages; 8 photos; 1 drawing.
The author describes his modular, or inter-connectible, drums and goes into detail on their construction and use of materials, particularly plumbing fixtures available from a hardware store.
VOLUME 13 #2, DECEMBER 1997
Letters and Notes. 9 pages; 6 photos; 5 drawings; 1 diagram.
Zeno Okeanos: Automobile Ah-Ooh-Ga Horns [additional keywords: electric motors]. John Coltman: The Old Model-T Horn. Susan Rawcliffe: The environmental dangers of PVC tubing. Joan Bell Cowan: The Orff Institut in Salzburg, Austria; “Canya” or arundo donax [cane reeds; bamboo; guiro; woodwinds]. Bill Mauzey: On the benefits of Gorilla glue for gluing styrofoam. Jason Gibbs: In response to a letter in EMI June 1997 about Dan bau. The Stranger Creek Instrument Maker’s Catalog [now no longer in business] was a mail-order outfit stocking books and resources on instruments and instrument making. The Backpacker Ukulele from Martin Guitar Company. Five ideas for possible strange sound makers from Sarn Richard Ursell. Frank Pahl’s: Automatic Marimba and Virtual Pet: Gerbil. The Pipeline Festival at Podewil, Berlin. Websites of interest to EMI readers. The New Zealand Deagan Organ Chimes [additional keywords: angklung; vibraphones; xylophones]. Ray Wilding-White on Monday Morning at The Gargoyle Works: a score for chairs that are scraped, rattled, dragged on the floor, etc.
“The Talking Machine: A Mechanical Speech Synthesizer”: Martin Riches. 5 pages; 1 photo; 7 drawings/diagrams.
The second in a two part series devoted to the subject of speech synthesis. Here, Riches describes the construction and research for his mechanical speech synthesizer. Includes bibliography.
“Scrappy Scrapers”: Text and drawings by Robin Goodfellow. 2 pags; 3 drawings; 1 score.
In the second of a series of illustrated articles, Goodfellow offers some cultural historical context on instruments that are scraped. She provides simple instructions on how to construct a few instruments simple enough for children, and presents a score to attempt after having built some of these sound makers [additional keywords: The Nigerian ivuur; dikwaksa from Zaire; idiophones; gourds; cheese graters; light bulb protectors; Korean Yu].
“Making Tube Drums and Styrocellos: Two Really Simple Instruments”: Skip LaPlante. 2 1/2 pages; 3 drawings/diagrams.
LaPlante herein describes two very simple instruments using recycled or discarded materials. The mailing tube drum is just that, with one plastic endcap removed. The styro cello combines wood and cardboard tube, styrofoam, wire, a turnbuckle, and two bolts into a stringed instrument [additional keywords: percussion].
“Circuit-Bending and Living Instruments: The Solar Bug Box”: Q.R.Ghazala. 4 pages; 4 photos.
Reed Ghazala describes his light-powered and light-modulated synthesizer, at the heart of which is a very basic “tone burst” generator. This aleatoric device creates insect-like sounds among other things and was inspired by unknown ambient natural sounds.
“Sounding Antiquity: Reconstructions of Ancient Greek Music”: Mitchell Clark. 3+ pages; 1 drawing.
Clark focuses on musical reconstructions based on surviving notations from ancient Greece as reflected in 5 recent recordings (a discography is included). He takes into consideration the issue of authenticity and the anachronistic use of certain instruments [additional keywords: lyres; harps; lutes; zithers; reed-pipe aulos; pitched idiophones; historical musicology; music archeology].
“Scratching the Surface: The Balloon in My Life”: Ricardo Arias; Drawings by Naomi Culla. 5 pages; 1 photo; 11 drawings.
After describing what led him to meta or nontraditional/ formal music, Arias offers sound-production techniques that he has used to make balloon music. This is followed by the story of the Balloon Kit: a contraption that allows for a kind of one-person-balloon-hand act. Includes bibliography [additional keywords: elastic aerophones; rubber, latex].
“Scot Jenerik’s Fire Music”: Mike Hovancsek. 3 pages; 6 photos.
After a bit of background on Jenerik’s modus operandi, the author describes Jenerik’s use of contact mics in his gloves and knee pads to amplify lit sheets of metal, a flame-thrower harp and an 8 ft. 2×4 strung with springs and piano wire. Photo cells trigger various sound sources according to the height of the flames, Hovancsek conducts an interview with him [additional keywords: propane; everyday objects].
“Historical Patents For Horned Violins”: Cary Clements. 5 pages; 14 drawings.
The author looks at 14 horned violin patents issued in the U.S. between 1900 and 1949 that were innovations based on or very similar to the Stroh Violin (see EMI June 1995): a violin with a horn to increase its volume for use in recording.
VOLUME 13 #3, MARCH 1998
Letters and Notes. 4 pages; 1 photo; 1 drawing.
Cyrus Heiduska: On a “found” instrument made up of holes in a road. John Chalmers: In response to Mitchell Clark’s “Sounding Antiquity” article on Ancient Greek music in previous issue; Chalmers mentions another relevant recording and mentions scales, etc [additional keywords: diatonic scale; Pythagorean scales; tetrachords]. Ranjit Bhatnagan: Recommendation for two sirens not mentioned in sirens article in EMI September 1997. Greg Phillips: Computer program allows the user to simulate tunings for chimes, recommends lengths, and gives reference tones. The trumpet call of the parasaurolophus, an herbivorous duck-billed dinosaur. Web sites of interest. Erie Art Museum exhibit on resonator guitars. Traditional Orchestrions (but newly made) available through Hammacher Schlemmer.
“The Free Reed”: Michael Hearst. 4 pages; 2 photos; 14 drawings.
The author, a former harmonica technician at the Hohner Company, defines the free reed, offers brief construction tips (including materials, what determines pitch, etc.). Following this, he gives a fascinating history of some free reed instruments dating back to China 3000 BC (the sheng) to the present with instruments such as harmonicas, the Claviola, and the Mellotron [additional keywords: bandoneons, accordions, melodicas, pianets, etc.].
“Poeme Electronique: A Building as an Instrument”: Ray Wilding-White. 6 pages; 6 photos; 8 drawings/diagrams.
The author describes the creation of the Philips Pavilion at the World Fair in Brussels 1958. Also included is a description of the Edgard Varese’s compositional process and how mathematics played a profound role in both the construction of the building and the sound that filled it. Further sources listed [additional keywords: Xenakis; Le Corbusier; L.C. Kalff].
“Hunka Hunka Churnin’ Wood: A 2×4 Contest Entry”: Art Liestman. 2 pages; 3 photos.
Liestman describes his entry into the annual Pacific Woodworkers Guild event in which each contestant is to make any project from a single piece of wood that measures 2 inches by 4 inches by 8 feet. Described herein is the construction of his invention: a xylophone pitched to an Indonesian scale controlled by a crank. He won 1st prize [additional keywords: xylophones; wood; marimbas].
“Empty Vessels: Readymade Resonators for String Instruments”: Peter Whitehead. 3 pages; 11 photos; 1 diagram.
Instrument innovator and composer Peter Whitehead describes ways of building plucked string instrument (i.e. banjo, bass lyre) using found or reused metal containers as resonators (i.e. cookie or ham containers; pie tins) and then describes bowed instruments (i.e. tamboura, etc.).
“A Sonic Odyssey and Quest For Clarity”: Peter Horsefield. 4 pages; 1 photo; 7 drawings/diagrams.
A description of a few of the author’s stringed instruments which include: harps; dulcimer; and musical kites.
“Sound Sculpture From Hungary: Photographs of works by Rezso Moder and Tibor Budahelyi. Notes by Kim Johnson. 3 pages; 9 photos.
This article presents photos and a brief introduction to two Hungarian (sound) sculptors based on catalogs sent to EMI via Albert Leskowsky [additional keywords: metal; wood].
“Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument”: Mike Hovancsek. 2+ pages; 2 photos; 1 diagram.
A description of The Long String Instrument, made up of 120 80ft long strings, which produces sound by rubbing rosined fingers along the length: vibration travels from end to end (as opposed to perpindicular to the string) [additional keywords: drone].
“Ramblings”: Bart Hopkin. 1+ pages; 1 photo; 1 drawing.
The subject of this article is building a simple harp with a roasting pan. It turns into a lesson on simplicity itself: Hopkin describes his unsuccessful attempt to create a harp with 56 strings cross-strung on a 15″ roasting pan. He then tries the same technique with 28 strings with more success [additional keywords: zithers; lyres; strings].
“From Flutes To Nuts or A Spring Egg Roll”: Text and drawings by Robin Goodfellow. 3 pages; 11 drawings; 1 score.
The third in a series presenting ideas for musical instruments simple enough to be made by children, offers a lesson plan, includes rudimentary principles of sound, elements of cultural lore, and a score. The subject of this article is eggshells and how to turn them into ocarinas: technically an enclosed chamber in which air vibrates when an air stream is blown across the edge of an opening in the chamber [additional keywords: woodwinds; globular flutes, vessel flutes].
“Bucket Drum Toms and The Marching Marimba”: Jody Krustal. 3 pages; 7 photos.
An instructional guide to using buckets of all kinds as drums and percussive devices (i.e. marimbas).
Books Reviews. 3 pages
Nelly van Ree Bernard: The Tuning Monochord Monchordio ‘Bermudo’: A hypothetical reconstruction of a 16th century Iberian clavichord and its employment and The Keyed Monochord: Rediscovery of a forgotten instrument.
Harry Partch: Enclosure: 3.
Kathy Teck, Roy Doty and The Hit-It Band: Bears Beat Bowls In The Bathtub.
J.C. Kleinbauer: How To Build a Barrel Organ: An Adventure In Plastic.
VOLUME 13 #4, JUNE 1998
Letters and Notes. 9 pages; 8 photos; 4 drawings.
Crane: Corrections regarding the architect of Phillips Pavilion: Le Corbusier or Iannis Xenakis? David L. Roop: Dreams of Instruments (i.e. percussive pillow). Bill Mauzey: Industrial-grade cardboard tube drums with brief instructions. ZHANg (aka Jonathan Chang): on altering a Playskool “Sax-o-fun”. Dwin R. Craig: Responds to several past articles with information and advice on speech synthesis machines; patents; what can be done with a clear Polycarbonate Flourescent Lamp Guard by Liteway; and a description of a single-string bass fiddle. Mugwumps Instrument Herald, a publication devoted to folk music instruments of all sorts, revived. DuPont buys Remo Percussion. All-Wood Bongo made by Puerto Rican Percussionist Pedro Barriera. Percussion by Roberta Berman Quinn [additional keywords: xylophones; chordophones; slit drum; idiophones; mbiras]. EMI a sponsor of the Musicians and Instrument Makers Forum (www.mimf.com). Paragraph inadvertantly omitted from Ray Wilding-White’s article “Poeme Electronique: A Building as an Instrument.” Web sites of interest. Sound Sculpture by James Harbison.
“John Kaizan Neptune and Shakuhachi Innovation”: Monty H. Levenson. 2 pages; 1 photo.
In this first part of a two-part series on J.K. Neptune, Monty Levenson of Tai Hei Shakuhachi, discusses John’s work with shakuhachi, including shakuhachi making, performance, and traditional culture. Monty also speaks of his own work, in collaboration with Neptune and others, in developing special technology to bring consistently high results at affordable cost to an instrument known for the elusiveness of its most desired qualities [additional keywords: woodwinds].
“Take Dake”: J.K. Neptune. 3 pages; 8 photos.
The second of a two-part series, here Neptune discusses his forays into the creation of an all-bamboo ensemble including drums, percussion aerophone, free-bar instruments and winds. There are brief descriptions of Baliphone; Bambass; Bamboo Drum Kit; Tube Congas; Bamboo Frame Drums; Wind Chimes; Vduboo, Shakers.
“The “Funny” Music of Neil Feather”: John Berndt. 5+ pages; 6 photos.
After a brief history of Neil Feather’s background, Berndt describes in some detail a few instruments de-of constructed by Feather, including the Nondo; Former Guitars; Vibulum; and others.
“Totems of Imagination”: Grant Strombeck. 2 pages; 3 photos.
The author muses on the subject of invention, what makes something art, and the lost spirit of the artless. The pictures of three of his instruments: the Sound Tree; the Gong Totem; and Maquette (Dream Harp) accompany his reflections [additional keywords: metal; bamboo; bells; wires].
“Plicker Plucker”: Text and Drawings by Robin Goodfellow. 4 pages; 13 drawings; 1 score.
This article, the fourth in a series presenting ideas for musical instruments simple enough to be made by children, offers a lesson plan, includes rudimentary principles of sound, elements of cultural lore, and a score. Here, Goodfellow describes a rubber-band-and-styrofoam version of a medieval psaltery, a stringed instrument somewhat similar to a zither. Also included is “A Children’s Instrument For Observing Quantifiable Tension”: An illustrated guide for making a very simple device using string, a paper cup, cardboard, and coins to demonstrate quantifiable tension.
“The One-Footed Drum Kit”: Niles Hokkanen. 6 pages; 13 photos.
The author describes what led him to using midi pedals and drums to accompany his mandolin, leading to a one-person band. He describes in great detail the construction of his unique foot pedal, which allows the player to play an entire battery of drums and cymbals with one foot alone.
“The Dworkian Register”: Q.R. Ghazala. 4 pages; 3 photos.
After describing his interest in 360-degree ambient sound fields, Reed Ghazala describes his Dworkian Register. The Dworkian Register is an aleatoric instruments made by circuit-bending four pressure-sensitive sound strips like those found in children’s books.
“Electromagnetic Possibilities”: Paul Rubenstein. 3 pages; 5 photos.
The author tells how he discovered a world of possibilities using electromagnetic pickups, and describes some of his instruments and their custom-designed pickups. Some of those instruments are: The Viotar, a bowed four-stringed version of an electric guitar; the Electric Saron, a xylophone-like gamelan instrument made of industrial surplus steel rods; M’birangi, a 32 key thumb piano-like instrument; Cellotar, an improvement on the viotar with 6 strings; and the Autodrone, a two-stringed bass run by a small motor and used to drone continuously.
Book Reviews. 1+ pages.
Jason Lollar: Basic Pickup Winding and Complete Guide To Making Your Own Pickup Winder [additional keywords: electronmagnetic pickups; coils].
Harvey Rudoff: The Practically Complete Guide To Almost Real Musical Instruments For Nearly Everyone
Anonymous: The Anonymous Family Reunion.
VOLUME 14 #1, SEPTEMBER 1998
Letters and Notes. 5 pages; 7 photos; 1 drawing.
Peter Whitehead: Adding a pickup to something does not make it an instrument. Lon Granger: Neodymium magnets added to electric guitar strings. Notes: Tonehole placement software by Glenn Engstrand available on web.Clara Rockmore, theremin virtuoso, died May 10, 1998 in Manhattan at age 88. Oddmusic forum moves to www.onelist.com. Glass Music International, newsletter and festivals contact information. Mariolina Zitta releases her CD Perle de Grotta: La Musica delle Stalattiti featuring percussion on cave stalactites. Jason Gibbs: Ta Thâm, Vietnamese instrument inventor died on October 19, 1997 in Hanoi at 68 years old.
“Deus es Machina; Fleshtone and the Godbox Project”: Monte Thrasher. 5 pages; 4 drawings.
The author describes his experiments and discoveries in infrasound (frequencies between 10 and 20Hz) with the “Godbox”. He also examines the occurrence of infrasound in animal calls, the noises of modern life and primitive instruments. Finally, he presents a theory of why infrasound has such a strong affect on the human being.
“The Enigma of Whistling Water Jars in Pre-Columbian Ceramics”: Brian Ransom. 4 pages; 8 pictures; 2 drawings.
This article is a presentation of the author’s research on Peruvian whistling jars. There are two types: single-chambered, breath-driven whistles and double-chambered, water-driven whistles. Variation in sound quality is attained by changes in whistle chamber size, whistle enclosure, sound hole size and angle of air delivery. [additional keywords: wind instruments; ceramics; primitive instruments; whistles].
“Toy Pianos; No Longer Toys!”: Margaret Leng Tan. 5 pages; 6 pictures; 2 drawings; 2 diagrams.
Here the history of the toy piano is traced from its German origins in the nineteenth century through its life in the United States. This article is primarily a chronicle of the production of toy pianos in the United States and includes information about the evolution of its uses around the world. Two diagrams explain how the keys function. [additional keywords: toys; children's instruments; glockenspiel; glass dulcimer; metallophone; John Cage.]
“Three more from Angel”: Angel Sampedro del Río. 3+ pages; 8 pictures; 2 drawings.
The author discusses troubleshooting issues with reeds, mouthpieces, toneholes, harmonics and bore on his finely crafted bamboo clarinets, saxophones and ocarinas. He also gives a history of the influences in his designs. [additional keywords: Argentina; Argentinean folk instruments.]
“How to Scramble Your Casio SK-1 Without Modifications”: Walter Funk. 1+ pages.
Looking to extend the functions of your Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard? The author describes how to access the “warp” mode with the right combination of buttons.
“MicroPiano-izmo”: zHANg. 2+ pages.
This article opens with a few nice quotes on non-traditional instruments and free improvisation. After giving information on the toy piano, John Cage and contact microphones, the author moves on to present his concept for a prepared toy piano.
“The Icelandic Lithophone”: Elias Davidsson. 3 pages; 3 photos.
The author begins with a history and geography of musical stones of the world. From his first discovery of a ringing stone in Iceland, he describes his construction and playing of lithophones.
“Mellow Lamellaphones”: Robin Goodfellow. 5 pages; 9 drawings; 13 diagrams; 1 song.
In her fifth ExMI pedagogical article, the author presents several ideas for lamellaphones simple enough for children to make. Construction is clearly illustrated with beautiful diagrams. Instructions for leading a song with children and cultural information on various African lamellaphones are included. Includes bibliography. [additional keywords: mbira; kalimba; recycled materials.]
“Browsing my Mind, or Dwinstruments I Have Known”: Dwin Craig. 5 pages.
This piece is a humorous list of many short ideas. The author writes about some uses of speakers as microphones, uses of integrated circuits for sound, uses of polycarbonate tubing, straws, clay, pegboard, plumber’s epoxy, Velcro, neon lights and more. [additional keywords: wind instruments; ASCII.]
VOLUME 14 #2, DECEMBER 1998
Letters and Notes. 9 pages; 6 pictures; 3 drawings.
Judy Dunaway: Compositions for balloon. Uli Wahl: Aeolsharfen; derWind als Musikant is a very good book about Aeolian harps. Glenn Engstrand: A list of ExMI relevant websites. Notes: Patrick Ozzard-Low publishes 21st Century Orchestral Instruments: Acoustic instruments for alternative tuning systems. Center for the study of free-reed instruments has opened: www.gsuc.cuny.edu/freereed/. Two instruments with pictures from Curtus Settino [additional keywords: pot lids; galvanized pipe]. Several instruments with pictures from Werner Raditschnig [additional keywords: aluminum; electro-acoustic instruments; spatial installation]. Four string instruments from Peter Head, with pictures. Peter Struble installs outdoor playground instruments for children in Austin, Texas.
“A Flute-Clock Caper”: Robert Moore. 4+ pages; 2 pictures; 1 diagram.
As a retirement gift for a fellow shop-worker in Canada’s Defense Research Lab, the author and his co-workers built a flute-clock. This instrument is a small barrel organ and is not a time keeper. The author describes the research, planning, construction and mechanics of this cooperatively build instrument. References to relevant books are conveniently included. [additional keywords: mechanical instruments; music-box; organ].
“Hybrid Winds”: Linsey Pollak. 4 pages; 5 pictures; 5 diagrams.
The author describes a few of his own wind instruments and provides information about their background. His instruments are based mostly on Eastern European folk instruments. [additional keywords: clarinet; gaida; tarogato; zurna; suona; ney; kaval; supelka; koauau; fleahole; carrot flute; rubber gloves]
“Motormouth; A Speaking Machine”: Martin Riches. 4 pages; 1 picture; 2 diagrams.
This article is a follow-up to one from ExMI September 1997 (Volume 13 #1). The author explains the function of a computer-controlled, mechanical human voice synthesizer he has developed. He also breaks down the sounding of a word into the required actions of each component of his contraption. [additional keywords: phonetics; electric motors; speech organs; programming]
“Galloping Gamelan”: Robin Goodfellow. 4 pages; 4 drawings; 2 songs.
This is the sixth if the author’s series on simple instruments for children and people of all ages. The article opens with information on Balinese gamelan and goes on to explain the assembly and application of a gamelan set of tin cans. Includes a list of websites related to gamelan. [additional keywords: recycled materials; tuning systems; Sharon Anway]
“Tank Music”: Reed Maxson. 2 pages; 4 pictures.
This article is a short report on the author’s musical activities using custom-welded steel tanks. He created a string bass using nylon rope and a 2000lb winch and played with “quasi-automated” components like swinging saws.
“Hyperbiwa”: Jhon Miura Hardy. 3 pages; 4 pictures; 2 drawings.
The author begins by briefly recalling the long history of the biwa (a family of plucked string instruments) in Japan. He clearly describes how the various aspects of the instrument function and how it was traditionally used. His own modern adaptation of this instrument, the hyperbiwa, adds internal springs for resonance and uses other non-traditional materials. [additional keywords: lute]
“Bamboo and Music; Part 1″: Richard Waters. 4 pages; 8 pictures.
The author surveys some uses of bamboo in world instruments including genggong (Jew’s harp), shakuhachi, musical kites, batutu, pan pipes and other wind and percussion instruments. Also included is information on harvesting, curing and working with the different types of bamboo.
“The Sub-chant Generator”: Q.R. Ghazala. 7 pages; 5 pictures; 3 drawings.
Reaching back to the origins of western notation, the author takes a look at Gregorian chant and chant traditions of the world. Then he continues with descriptions of his subliminal-chant generator, which is two voice-synthesizing ICs that he rewired and organized into one sound-producing unit. Practical words on how he built his instrument end in a tantalizing list of resulting sounds. [additional keywords: circuit bending; electronics; allophones; phonemes; music history]
ExMI VOLUME 14 #3, MARCH 1999
Letters and Notes. 10 pages; 9 pictures; 21 drawings.
Dwin R. Craig: Amiga computers used for speech synthesis. René van Peer: Musical interaction with birds. Bash the Trash: 6 ideas for simply constructed instruments using recycled materials. Notes: “Music of the streets” by Michael Colton about car-activated sounds published in The Washington Post Oct 1 1998. See www.composersforum.org for info on Harry Partch archives. Pictures and short text of Jacques Rémus’ mechanical-acoustic instrument [additional keywords: midi; computers]. Information on cigar box guitars from Shane Speal. Web site list includes search engine reviews.
“Polymorphous Percussion Construction; Making Drums out of Everything in Sight”: Zeno Okeanos. 6 pages; 19 pictures.
The author recreates percussion instruments of the world while applying his own ideas and materials. His writing provides information and background on traditional instruments such as tumbao, quinto, palito, congas, shekeres, kettle drums, udu, berimau, cowbells, t’ao ku, and more, and includes construction notes on his own modifications.
“The Dolceola; The World’s Smallest Grand Piano”: Andy Cohen. 6+ pages; 5 pictures; 1 diagram.
The dolceola is a miniature acoustic keyboard instrument modeled after a piano that was produced in Toledo, OH at the beginning of the 20th century. This article is a collection of historical facts, speculation and information gleaned from the observation of still existing dolceolas, all of which are the results of the author’s 25 years of researching the instrument. [additional keywords: Washington Philips; blues; key action; tuning systems]
“The New Sax Fingering System”: Jim Schmidt. 3 pages; 6 pictures; 3 drawings.
Using his experience in engineering and machining, the author has redesigned the fingering system for the saxophone. This new system is arranged so that each successive chromatic note lies under each successive finger. Thus, fingering and transposing are simplified and extraneous hardware is eliminated. [additional keywords: Boehm fingering system]
“Paul Panhuysen’s Long String Installations”: René van Peer. 8 pages; 10 pictures; 2 drawings.
The author reports on the world of long string instruments that Paul Panhuysen has developed in roughly 300 installations over more than 15 years. From interviews and his own observations, the author writes about string materials, architecture, resonators, tunings, tensions and playing techniques both human and mechanical. Some words on Panhuysen’s CD “Three Partitas for Long Strings” describe the technique and results of the recording. [additional keywords: Pythagoras]
“Laudable Launeddas and Other Reedy Folk”: Robin Goodfellow. 4+ pages; 14 drawings.
This article is the seventh of the author’s series on instruments for children to build. She presents the interesting and comical lore of the launeddas, which is a reed instrument from the Italian island of Sardinia. Then she gives instructions on making a similar idioglot instrument out of soda straws.
“Aeolian-Bow Kites in China”: Mitchell Clark. 4 pages; 2 pictures; 1 drawing.
This article presents some history and examines the language related to Chinese Aeolian-bow kites. [additional keywords: organology]
“Making a Fengqin”: Wang Qinian, Wu Guanghui and Yu Jiming. Translated by Mitchell Clark and Rene Yung. 1+ pages; 4 drawings.
This is a counterpart to the above article describing how to make an Aeolian-bow to add to a kite.
“The Homemade Clements Plywood Centennial Augustus Stroh Violin”: Cary Clements. 5 pages; 12 pictures; 4 drawings.
The author opens with some brief history of the Stroh violin and then guides the reader through the process of building his own copy.
“Deeper into Fleshtone; Sound Energy within the Human Body”: Monte Thrasher.
This is the second article in a series that began in ExMI September 1998 Volume 14 #1. The author unveils further thoughts and inventions related to the human experience of infrasound and tactile sound or fleshtone. The author’s fantasies mingle with devices such as the Bonefone, audiotac, Holophonic recording and much more. [additional keywords: sound sculpture; sirens; acoustics; patents.]
“Bamboo and Music, Part 2″: Richard Waters. 4 pages; 3 pictures.
This is the second part of an article in EMI December 1998. The author looks at some different species of bamboo and their properties and uses. Then he explains various methods for preserving, curing and working with bamboo. [additional keywords: wind instruments; stamping drums; guiro]
VOLUME 14 #4, JUNE 1999
Letters and Notes. 18 pages; 35 pictures; 5 drawings.
Shane W. Speal: B.B. King’s Mailbox guitar. Hugh Davies: Experimental instruments in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Bob Grawi: Pogo stick bumbass, infrasound, double bridge harps and thanks. Notes: Report on the San Francisco State University Sinusoidal sound exhibition in March and April 1999. David Knott, music therapist, creates a program teaching homeless youth to create their own instruments. Alberto Magnin: Building membrane kalimbas and bamboo idiophone resonators. James Harbison: A giant rain stick, the Dumpstick, made during residency at San Francisco Recycling and Transfer Station. Frank Pahl: Automated door bell instruments. Len Maurer strings his walking stick to create the versatile Musicane. Michael Bradke’s interactive sound sculptures. Hans Tschiritsch, theater musician, builds instruments influenced by the Stroh, hurdy-gurdies, and more. Instruments from Hungarian maker, Viktor Lois. New instruments and coming CDs from Les Phônes. A report on Dr. Cecil Adkins’ lecture and performance on 15th-18th century European instrument, the tromba marina. Richard Johnson’s winslaphones combine various types of mouthpieces and bells to create different timbres. Bill Reid’s steel sound sculptures. Peter Hurney describes “the cold water shower reaction device”.
“Globular Horns”: Barry Hall. 4 + pages; 8 pictures; 1 drawing.
The author describes his discovery of a globular horn disguised as an udu, and then his development on the theme with globular drum-horns, globular-tubular horns and globular fiddle-horns. He also untangles some of the mysterious behaviors of these instruments.
“Freenotes from Richard Cooke”: Bart Hopkin. 4 pages; 10 pictures; 1 drawing.
This is a photo journal of Richard Cooke’s percussion bar instruments with some nice pictures of great instruments and layout ideas. Notes on the instruments from Bart Hopkin.
“Journey Through Sand and Flame; A Ceramic Musical Instrument Maker”: Brian Ransom. 4 pages; 12 pictures.
Pictures of beautifully sculpted, ceramic wind, string and percussion instruments illustrate the ideas and developments the author writes of.
“The Photosonic Disc”: Jacques Dudon. 11 pages; 28 pictures; 2 diagrams.
This article documents the author’s extensive work with light as a sound source. He uses rotating transparent discs patterned with opaque ink to alternately block and pass light shining through to a photo electric cell to create different timbres and pitches. He writes of his many methods of creating the discs and filtering and modulating their output. [additional keywords: waveforms; harmonics; tunings; Fibonacci; fractals; barabarie organ; sequencing]
“The Cultivated Sculptural”: Ela Lamblin. 5 pages; 6 pictures.
The function and design of instruments made from carrots, bull kelp, bicycles and stones blends with choreography and dance in this description of the author’s work. He and his spouse are working together to create a new genre of performance found in the merging of instrument building, music and dance.
“Beyond the Shaker; Experimental Instruments and the New Educational Initiatives”: John Bertles. 5+ pages; 2 pictures; 4 diagrams.
Out of his work in elementary schools in New York, the author presents ideas for cross-curricular applications of instrument building in the classroom. He opens with some recent history of arts programs in schools, and what is needed to meet current requirements. Then he goes deeper into the connection of instrument building to history, cultural studies, geology, math, science, literacy and environmental studies. [additional keywords: finger piano; pan pipes; recycled materials; notation systems; acoustics]
“No Unifying Idea in the Work of No One in Particular”: John Berndt. 4+ pages; 7 pictures.
The author runs through a selection of his original instruments ranging from amplified acoustic experiments to feedback and circuit bending.
“Circuit-Bending and Living Instruments of a Future”: Q.R. Ghazala. 9 pages; 16 pictures; 1 drawing.
The author’s final article for ExMI is a guide for the beginning circuit bender wishing to discover worlds of unintended sounds in toys and other simple sound-making circuitry. He covers all the tools, supplies and techniques one needs to embark on this adventure, and includes illustrative examples of his own instruments. [additional keywords: switches; potentiometers; capacitors; photo resistors; solar cells; LEDs; humidity sensors; body contacts; line outputs]
“Straws in the Wind, or, the Wind in the Willows”: Robin Goodfellow. 5+ pages; 32 drawings.
To complete her pedagogical series in ExMI, the author presents her pan pipes, slide whistle and oboe made from soda straws. As always, she includes interesting instrumental and cultural lore.
“Extra, Extra – Stroh Violins Still Being Made!!!”: Cary Clements. 4 pages; 11 pictures.
The author reports on his research into the making, design, function and use of two contemporary Stroh spin-offs: the Burmese Stroh violin and the Transylvanian funnel fiddle.
“Articles We Shoulda Done”: Bart Hopkin. 2+ pages.
These last notes from the editor of EMI include some interesting leads for continued research: novelties from the Deagan company, slide saxophone patents, John Keeley, Chinese-Western orchestral instruments, pedal steel guitar and bell harps.