Volumes 5-6 (1989-1991)

Last modified 8-13-2009
This page contains synopses of articles appearing in the Experimental Musical Instruments journal, volumes 5 and 6. 
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VOLUME 5 #1, JUNE 1989

Letters and Notes. 2 pages (2-3); 3 photos.
Sam’l P. Arnold: Concerning a “devil’s fiddle.” R. Gazala: Inquiry (w/photo). Note on Tillman Schafer’s 19-tone bars (w/photo). Note on the instruments of Catherine Favre (w/photo).

“Mirlitons – Kazoos and Beyond”: Bart Hopkin. 5 pages (4-8); 1 photo; 5 drawings; 2 diagrams.
Concerning mirlitons: instruments with a small attached membrane used to deliberately alter the instrumental sound, generally giving a type of buzzing sound. These range from simple transformers of human singing such as kazoos and comb-and-tissue-paper, through highly sophisticated wind instruments. Many such wind instruments are important instruments in non-Western musics, such as the Chinese di (ti-tzu; also known as the “dragon flute”) and Korean taegum. European instruments of this type have included the flauto di voce and sudrophone. Mirlitons usually utilize a non-rigid membrane (a diaphragm) which covers a hole placed somewhere along the length of the instrument. Materials commonly used (past and present) for the membrane include parchment, other animal skins, paper, onion skin, goldbeaters skin, cellophane, treated silk, etc. The acoustics of mirlitons are discussed. Many examples of “voice mirlitons,” “mirliton aerophones,” and “mirliton marimbas” – these latter being mirlitons used in resonators for pitched percussion instruments – are described. [additional keywords: bamboo, cantophones, Chopi, eggs, eunuch flutes, garlic juice glue, jug bands, mbila, merlotina, onion flutes, Sudre, trumpet marine]

“The Bamboo Orchestra: Nine Self-Playing Bamboo Machines”: Text and diagrams by Ernie Althoff. 5 pages (9-13); 9 drawings.
Australian builder Ernie Althoff discusses his self-playing musical machines, made of bamboo sounding elements driven by cassette and turntable motors. From his earliest music-making machine (built in 1981 and utilizing the take-up capstan of a cassette machine as a way to set two suspended beaters in motion, the beaters striking various objects in the vicinity of the cassette machine), Althoff found that the random soundings produced by his designs were ideal for his texture-based compositions. From 1986 onwards, his designs moved to include suspended bamboo as sounding elements. In 1988, his “Bamboo Orchestra” (in which nine different self-playing machines using bamboo were designed to sound together) was developed and, later that year, premiered in Melbourne. Each of the nine machines is illustrated by a line drawing. [additional keywords: 16 rpm, 33 rpm, 78 rpm]

“Hans Reichel’s Pick-behind-the-bridge harmonic guitar”: Bart Hopkin. 2 pages (14-15); 1 photo; 1 drawing.
Concerning the electric guitar design developed by Hans Reichel during the 1970s, in which string harmonics can be isolated and amplified. Reichel’s approach, which uses specially made guitars, is compared with a similar approach of Glenn Branca, which uses specially made board zithers (for which, also see EMI vol.1 #3). [additional keyword: dachsophon]. A recording (entitled “Thinking”) is included on Experimental Musical Instruments – Early Years, track 13.

Book Reviews. 4 pages (16-19); 6 drawings from the books under discussion.
Michael Praetorius, trans. David Z. Crookes, Syntagma Musicum.
Marin Mersenne, trans. Roy E. Chapman, Harmonie Universelle.
Fillipo Bonanni, intro. by Frank Ll. Harrison and Joan Rimmer, Gabinetto Armonico (Antique Musical Instruments and their Players).

“Another Summer’s New Year”: Bart Hopkin. 2 pages (19-20).
An editorial as EMI began its fifth year of publication. EMI’s shift to include more articles and information on non-western and traditional western instruments of interest is mentioned.

“EMI’s 4-Year Index” 3 pages (21-23).
An index of articles in EMI volumes 1 through 4, indexed by subject areas.

VOLUME 5 #2, AUGUST 1989

“The Piatarbajo – Its History and Development”: Hal Rammel. 7 pages (1 & 6-11); 5 photos.
Concerning the history of the tradition, primarily in America, of the one-man band. Among the earlier 20th-century artists discussed are Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas, Stovepipe No. 1, Daddy Stovepipe, Will Blankenship, Jesse Fuller (who was well recorded), and Fate Norris (who is pictured). The focus of the article then turns to the “five-piece one-man band” called the piatarbajo, designed and built by Joe Barrick of Oklahoma. Barrick’s earliest instrument to be played by the feet (to accompany other instruments played by the hands of the same musician) was the piatar, a foot-activated guitar. Later, in the 1970s, he developed the piatarbajo, which added a bass guitar, banjo, and snare drum. The entire arrangement is then amplified in such a way as to physically separate the various sounds. Barrick’s repertoire is mostly Country and Western numbers. Other instruments designed and built by Barrick, such as the cow’s skull mandolin/guitar, the Oklahoma guitar, and the toilet seat guitar, are also discussed and illustrated. [additional keywords: Choctaw; Harlan County, Kentucky; The Skillet Lickers]

Letters and Notes. 4 pages (2-5); 1 photo; 5 diagrams.
Hal Rammel: Concerning the bazooka (the instrument), with a description of the instrument, in response to Bart Hopkin’s article on mirlitons in EMI vol.5 #1. [additional keywords: Bob Burns; kazoos; Spike Jones; tailgate trombones; vaudeville] Ernie Althoff: “Regarding Mirlitons,” with a description of Althoff’s kazoo-prepared alto saxophone (w/diagrams). [additional keywords: PVC] Blake Mitchell: Concerning marimba resonators with membranes, quoting from Frank McCallum’s The Book of the Marimba (w/diagrams ). [additional keywords: Charleo; Marimbero; Nabimba; Tela]

“Spotlite on William Roof”: JoAnn Jones. 1 page (11); 1 photo.
A profile of 87-year old William Roof, who earlier in his life built a number of self-designed instruments (hoe guitar, cigar box guitar) and performed as a one-man band.

“Whirled Music”: David Toop and Max Eastley. 5 pages (12-16); 2 photos; 16 drawings.
Concerning bullroarers and related whirled instruments and soundmakers, and their influence on the work of English musician David Toop and musical sculptor Max Eastley. Bullroarers have a remarkably wide distribution, and have long had diverse ritual uses; some of these are described in the introductory portion of the present article. The inspiration to create performances of whirled music came to Toop and Eastley through a 1977 London performance by improvising percussionist Paul Burwell. Toop and Eastley’s Whirled Music ensemble debuted in 1978, and utilized up to 150 instruments in a performance. These included such swung and spun sound producers as cymbals, Burmese kyeezee percussion plaques, “soft trumpets,” a variety of toys, and Eastley’s own Darts – a large aeolian aerophone swung by the player on a cord. At times the soundmakers soaring through the air presented real physical danger to performers and audience alike. Toop and Eastley also describe a few folk musical instruments of Turkey, Vietnam, and Java which involve whirled and circular soundmaking. (This was the first of three articles on “swung” music – music made by instruments that are played by spinning or whirling; the sequels were Sarah Hopkins’s “Whirly Instruments” in vol.5 #3, and Darrel De Vore’s “Spirit Catchers and Windwands” in vol.5 #4.) [additional keywords: guewova; ngetundo; Curt Sachs; tchouringui; Jean Tinguely]

“A History of Sampling”: Hugh Davies. 3 pages (17-19).
A detailed history of sampling – broadly defined to describe all “methods for storing and replaying sounds” – by this scholar of 20th-century musical instruments. Sampling as a digital technique dates back to the late 1930s, under the name of pulse code modulation (PCM). Mention is made of the experiments of Dr. Richard Woodbridge (1960s) in retrieving sounds which were (at various times in human culture) inadvertently “recorded” on the surfaces of clay pots. (The pots, being built up on the spinning potter’s wheel, were decorated by means of the pointed stick, and this stick could be considered a recording “stylus,” committing sounds in the environment as the pot was being decorated; this could be considered the very earliest form of sonic sampling.) Additional areas discussed by Davies include the phonograph (cylinders, from 1877), the gramophone (flat discs, from 1887), the telegraphone (first magnetic recorder, from the 1890s), early concepts for keyboard instruments utilizing pre-recorded sounds (from the early 1900s), and optical photo-electric soundtracks (from the 1920s). Composers – including Darius Milhaud, Edgard Varese, and Paul Hindemith – experimented with creative use of various of these technologies (especially gramophone records) from the 1920s and 1930s. In 1939, John Cage used manipulated discs in his Imaginary Landscape No.1. Magnetic-tape-based composition in the latter half of the century was either directly or indirectly influenced by the work of Pierre Schaeffer (in Paris) from 1948, who initially used disc technology, in 1951 moving to magnetic tape. Work of recent artists such as Laurie Anderson, Michel Waisvisz, and Christian Marclay are also discussed. Experiments with keyboard instruments using pre-recorded sounds continued through the first half of the 20th century, and the first effective such instrument was the Mellotron (later called Novatron), which used magnetic-tape technology and began to be marketed in 1964. Digital technology superseded earlier systems by the early 1980s. [additional keywords: Emile Berliner; Birotron; Chamberlin; Thomas Alva Edison; Optigan; Valdemar Poulsen; Alec Reeves; Singing Keyboard; Vako Orchestron]

“Students’ Instrument Ideas”: Drawings by Dianne Murphy, Jubal Wilson, Gabrielle Rouse, Jeff Bloom & Daniel Nasaw / Commentary edited from notes by Murray Kapell. 3 pages (20-22); 7 drawings.
Drawings of instrument designs by students at Malcolm Shabazz High School in Madison, Wisconsin, from a class taught by Murray Kapell and Roan Kaufman, as well as by Daniel Nasaw (age eight).

VOLUME 5 #3, OCTOBER 1989

Letters and Notes. 4 pages (2-5); 2 photos; 5 drawings.
Hal Rammel: Concerning bullroarers and whirled instruments (w/drawings), in response to David Toop and Max Eastley’s “Whirled Music” in EMI vol.5 #2. [additional keyword: Andrew Lang] Notes concerning mirlitons and related instruments (w/drawings).

“Sound Frames: Sound Sculpture at the Exploratorium Made by Doug Hollis, Peter Richards and Bill Fontana”: Ann Chamberlain. 5 pages (6-10); 6 photos.
Concerning sound sculptures sponsored by the Exploratorium in San Francisco and located in the S.F. Bay Area, made by Hollis, Richards and Fontana, with discussion and illustration of specific works. Each work articulates, acoustically, relationships between listeners and the Bay Area environment. Fontana’s Landscape Sculpture with Foghorns is a work which utilizes the foghorns of the S.F. Bay Area. Microphones were placed in eight S.F. Bay locations which picked up the sound of Bay foghorns. The sounds were broadcast in one location at Fort Mason, S.F., with the remarkable result of the actual foghorn sounds forming “echoes” as it were of the broadcast sounds. Doug Hollis, an artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium at the time, created his Aeolian Harp for the front portico of Exploratorium building. Airfoils on the top of the building were connected to metal wires which were acoustically amplified (in a way reminiscent of a tin-can telephone) by metal dishes on the front of the building. Another of the Hollis’s works, Wind Organ, was built in front of the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. In this sculpture, 36 large aluminum pipes were mounted end up in the Berkeley Hills. A slit near the top end of each pipe allowed for the pipe to generate a flute-like edge tone, the various slits facing various directions so that different pipes would sound in breezes of differing directions. Richards’s Wave Organ, made in collaboration with George Gonzales, is built on the leeward side of a jetty in the S.F. Bay. Wave Organ acoustically amplifies sound of the water rushing into PVC pipes placed around the jetty. The actual amphitheater of the Wave Organ is built from discarded stonework from the S.F. vicinity. (Reprinted from Exploratorium Magazine.)

“Whirly Instruments”: Sarah Hopkins. 4 pages (10-13); 5 photos; 1 diagram.
About Australian composer/performer Sarah Hopkins and her performances with “whirlies” – musical instruments made from flexible plastic corrugated hosing. Used in varying lengths and diameters, the material can be precisely tuned and played in both melodic and percussive ways. Hopkins was introduced to whirly instruments in 1982 through a commercially made toy version known as a “blugal,” given her by composer Warren Burt. Commercially made whirly instruments not being generally available at that time, she soon began making her own whirly instruments by experimenting with swimming pool hosing, 25mm-diameter hosing giving her the “High Voiced Whirlies,” with pronounced 3rd through 8th harmonics. Playing techniques include the basic spinning – the “whirling” – as well as percussive rubbings, scrapings, and slappings. In 1984 she formed the six-member Darwin Whirliworks Ensemble. At this time she developed the “Deep Voiced Whirlies,” using 32mm-diameter hosing. These provided the 2nd to 6th harmonics, or the 4th to 8th harmonics, depending on length. In 1985 she incorporated some commercially made toy whirlies into her instrumentarium, including the “Plastic Sports Audio Pipes,” giving the 2nd to 6th harmonics, which she renamed “Colored Whirlies.” At this time she also developed, with kitemaker Sharon Pacey, a soundkite with a whirly mounted on its spine. Later she began to combine whirlies and handbells in performance, as well as collaborating with choreographer Beth Shelton, with whom she created several “Whirly Dances.” A recording of Sarah Hopkins’s work (entitled “Kindred Spirits”) is included on Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones, track 15 (her work is also discussed in the book). (This was the second of three articles on “swung” music – music made by instruments that are played by spinning or whirling; the first was David Toop and Max Eastley’s Whirled Music” in vol.5 #2, and the third was Darrel De Vore’s “Spirit Catchers and Windwands” in vol.5 #4.) [additional keywords: Frank Crawford; Paul Dougherty]

“What is a Corrugahorn”: Frank Crawford. 6 pages (14-19); 1 photo; 1 drawing; 3 diagrams.
A Corrugahorn is “a whole new family of musical wind instruments” invented by Frank Crawford “in the spring of 1973.” A professor of astrophysics at the University of California at Berkeley, Crawford became intrigued by the singing whirly tubes (variously known as Freekas, Hummers, and Whirl-a-Sounds) which became popular in the early 1970s, and set out to study their acoustic behavior. Over time he refined a variety of mouth-blown wind instrument constructed from corrugated brass tubing which he dubbed “Corrugahorn.” As Crawford describes, the corrugations are what actually generate the tones (which are the natural harmonics of the tube’s fundamental), functioning in a way which takes the place of the reed of a clarinet, the buzzing lips of a trumpeter, or the tone-hole edge of a flute. The article goes into much fascinating detail about the development and physics of these instruments. (Reprinted from a 1974 issue of Berkeley Magazine with additional material from Crawford’s more technical report, “Singing Corrugated Tubes,” published the same year in American Journal of Physics.)

“John Maluda’s Instruments for the Montessori Classroom”: Bart Hopkin & John Maluda. 3 pages (20-22); 4 photos; 1 drawing.
A study of John Maluda’s stringed instruments for young players, inspired by some of the ideas concerning music in education set forth, in the early part of this century, by Dr. Maria Montessori. Maluda’s first instrument was a small harp of 23 strings, which was directly influenced by Montessori’s writings. Additional instruments include the 15-string Maluda psaltery, and prototypes for a single string clavichord, as well as a violin and a viola (the latter to be played cello-style by children), each fretted. Each of Maluda’s instruments are inexpensive to construct. [additional keywords: Association Montessori Internationale; Carl Orff; Felix Savart]

VOLUME 5 #4, DECEMBER 1989

“Balloons & Bladders”: Bart Hopkin. 6 pages ([1] & [16-20]); 4 photos; 6 drawings.
On the uses of “bladders” (inflatable membranes) generally, and balloons (the familiar party toy) as one type of bladder specifically, in musical instruments. Historically, the most important kind of bladder used in instruments is that of an animal. The most common use for an inflated animal bladder has been in bagpipes, as an air reservoir. Bagpipes are sounded by a reedpipe, called a chanter, and usually one or more drone pipes. Air is supplied to these pipes by a bladder which is filled with air either by means of a bellows, held under one arm, or by the player blowing into the bladder itself via a blowpipe equipped with a one-way valve. It is in this way that bagpipes have the ability to play continually without stopping for breath. In addition to animal bladders, other materials such as animal stomachs or entire animal skins have been used, as well as rubberized cloth. Aerophones such as traditional bladder pipes and the modern Pneumafoons of Godfried-Willem Raes are also discussed. Inflated membranes can also be used as resonators of sound in string instruments, although there appears to be only one traditional instrument type that does this: the bladder-and-string, known in its various manifestations as bumbass, basse de Flandre, muzycyny, smyk, and so on. Inflated membrane resonators, vibration insulators and non-rigid mountings have also been used by the Baschet Brothers in France (on their work see EMI vol.3 #3), and by the American builders Tom Nunn and Chris Brown. Balloon drums and Prent Rodgers’s balloon flutes are also discussed.

Letters and Notes. 4 pages ([2-5]); 1 photo; 1 drawing; 1 diagram; 2 notations.
Charles Adams: Concerning bullroarers (w/notations), in response to David Toop and Max Eastley’s “Whirled Music” in EMI vol.5 #2. Notes on Richard Waters’s whale warning device, on a “wind gamelan,” and on corrugahorns.

“Musical Strings, Part 1″: Bart Hopkin. 7 pages ([6-12]).
The first installment of a detailed two-part article on the physical behavior and acoustics of musical instrument strings of various materials and designs. The article begins with a discussion of the ways in which vibrating strings behave (outlining modes of vibration, internal damping {or, internal friction}, tensile strength, elasticity, and string shape and uniformity), external influences on string behavior, and string design (“the art of deciding just what sorts of strings will bring out the best in an instrument”). A history of the development of musical strings in Europe is included. (“Musical Strings, Part 2″ is found in EMI vol.5 #5.) [additional keywords: overwound strings; sheep gut strings; string winding; transverse vibrations; Young's Modulus]

“Spirit Catchers and Windwands (Music in Circular Motions)”: Darrel De Vore. 4 pages ([12-15]); 7 photos; 1 drawing; 1 diagram.
Spirit Catchers and Windwands are, as the subtitle “music in circular motions” suggests, sound-makers which are swung in a circles around the musician – often referred to as “whirlies.” De Vore’s instruments were initially inspired in the late 1970s by a “Buzzing Bee,” a Chinese toy sound-maker utilizing a taut rubber band mounted on a short bamboo, wood, and cardboard frame in the shape of a bee. When swung on a string, a buzzing sound results from this “free-air chordophone.” Such an instrument is related to the Aeolian harp, but is, in a way, its inverse, as the Buzzing Bee’s “strings” are moved through the air (stationary or not) whereas a stationary Aeolian harp’s strings are sounded by air moving through them. (It may be noted that the former – that is, strings moving through stationary air – is generally how scientific experimentation is conducted on the aeolian sounding of musical strings.) De Vore began experimenting with sound-makers constructed on the model of a Buzzing Bee, but of increased size. His discoveries moved to Hummers, D-Trads (Hummers with the addition of bridges), and to Spirit Catchers (complex modular and multiphonic free-air chordophones). All were swung in a circle on a string. Windwands came next, evolving from Spirit Catchers, to which a handle was added so that the direction, speed, and velocity of the instrument could be better controlled in a smaller playing space. Directions, with a diagram, are given for the construction of a windwand. (This was the third of three articles on “swung” music – music made by instruments that are played by spinning or whirling; the first two were David Toop and Max Eastley’s Whirled Music” in vol.5 #2, and Sarah Hopkins’s “Whirly Instruments” in vol.5 #3; note that Sarah Hopkins has used some of De Vore’s instruments in her own performances.) [additional keywords: ArtPark; bullroarer]

“The Protracted History of the Bellow Melodica”: Bob Phillips. 2 pages ([20-21]); 1 drawing.
Bob Phillips’s ingenious Bellow Melodica was initially inspired by the Irish uillean pipes, a form of bellows-blown bagpipes. In the Bellow Melodica, an air reservoir bladder bag (pumped under the player’s left arm) is fed air from a “ambu bag” (a medical ambu[latory] bag, of the kind used to resuscitate non-breathing individuals, which is pumped under the player’s right arm), and in turn supplies air to drive a standard melodica (made by Hohner). Phillips prefers the word “bellow” to “bellows” in his instrument’s name, as he says that the sound of the Bellow Melodica brings to mind images of the bellowing of bulls and elephants. (Reprinted from Keep Pickin’, the newsletter of the Tri-State Folk Music Society.)

Book Review. 2 pages ([22-23]); 5 drawings.
Hooked on Making Musical Instruments by Lindo Francis and Allan Trussell-Cullen.

VOLUME 5 #5, FEBRUARY 1990

“Musical Strings, Part 2″: Bart Hopkin. 8 pages (1 & 14-20).
The second installment of a detailed two-installment article on the behavior and acoustics of musical instrument strings of various materials and designs. (“Musical Strings, Part 1″ is found in EMI vol.5 #4.) This part covers different string types, and their characteristics and applications. Materials are outlined; these include metal, gut, nylon, silk, animal materials other than gut and silk, vegetable fiber, and unorthodox materials (including coiled and ribbon-shaped strings). Pointers on where and how to obtain strings are also given. A detailed bibliography is included. [additional keywords (mostly musical instruments with unusual string materials): belembautuyan; bin baja; gambus lampung; goras; gusle; kizh; kora; kudam; lesibas; mvet, panduri; tonkori; valiha; xizambi]

Letters and Notes. 5 pages; 1 drawing; 1 diagram.
Francois Baschet: In response to Frank Crawford’s “What is a Corrugahorn” in EMI vol.5 #3. Robin Frost: Concerning a large monochord. Letters from Hugh Davies and Donald Hall on acoustics. Ivor Darreg: Concerning theremins. Notes on bullroarers, bellow melodica, and an illustration of a “cat piano.”

“Udu Drum: Voice of the Ancestors”: Frank Giorgini. 5 pages (7-11); 6 photos; 1 diagram.
The varieties of clay-pot UDU DRUMS, designed and made by Frank Giorgini, are modeled on Nigerian side-hole pot drums. The Nigerian pot drums go by various names; the one generally ascribed to it is Abang mbre, or “pot for playing.” Such ceramic drums are narrow-necked, vase-like vessels with a hole in the side in addition to the opening at the top. The basic playing technique incorporates drumming on the side hole while opening and closing the top hole. Although it is termed a drum it is not a membranophone. Giorgini learned the art of making Nigerian side hole pot drums in 1974 from Abbas Ahuwan at the Haystacks Mountain School in Maine. Giorgini’s general UDU DRUM form is that based on the traditional Nigerian techniques. For that form he has developed innovations in design, new formulas for the composition of the clay, and new firing techniques. As with the traditional African concept of a family of four drums, the basic UDU DRUMS are made in sets of four. Giorgini includes much information about the construction, acoustics, and playing techniques of these instruments, and the history of his involvement with them. [additional keywords: Claytone Percussion; Jamey Haddad; Hadgini; hand drumming; Helmholtz resonators; Kim Kim]

“Experimental Musicians: The Next Generation”: Joan Epstein. 2 pages (12-13); 3 photos.
Joan Epstein discusses her work with experimental instruments with children in the elementary-school classroom at a Florida school for gifted students aged 8 to 10. Instruments designed by the students sported such names as Grade A Large, Basket Case, Windle, and Four Buttoned Bongo. After structured improvisations, the students went on to compose short pieces for their instruments.

“The Superball Mallet”: Richard Waters. 1 page (21); 1 photo; 1 drawing.
On the use of the commercial Superball in mallets for percussive use, and for frictional excitement of resonant objects (or, as Richard Waters quotes Lee Charleton as saying, “it has this friction thing that’s unreal”). [additional keywords: The Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band; Shell Mann; Emil Richards; Waterphones]

“The Sound Arts Exhibit at Vista Fine Arts”: Notes by Peter Adams / Photos by Sherrie Posternak. 1 page (22); 2 photos. A brief note about a 1989 exhibition of musical instruments at Vista Fine Arts of Middleburg, Virginia. Of the total of 37 instruments, several were of an experimental nature, including Catherine Favre’s Magical Moon Harp as well as a number of instruments by Michael Creed (shown in one of the photos). [additional keywords: Sam Rizzetta; Richard Selman; Gary Upton]

VOLUME 5 #6, APRIL 1990

“Resophonics”: Introduction by Bart Hopkin. 3 pages (1 & 12-13)
A general discussion of resophonics (also called ampliphonics) as applied to non-electric resonating systems on guitars, forming an introduction to Bobby Wolfe’s article “The Bluegrass Dobro” on pp.13-18 of the same issue. [additional keywords: Dobro Company; John Dopera; Hawaiian guitars; National Company; resonator cones]

Letters and Notes. 4 pages (2-5); 1 photo; 2 drawings.
Debbie Susan: Concerning traditional accounts of instruments strung with human hair. Bob Grawi & Pip Klein: On bamboo (w/drawing). Matt Finstrom: Concerning a homemade gamelan (w/photo). Tony Blanton: In response (w/drawing) to Bart Hopkin’s “Balloons & Bladders” in EMI vol.5 #4.

“Horn from the Sea: Bull Kelp, Part 1″: Bart Hopkin. 4 pages (6-9); 6 photos; 1 drawing.
Concerning the construction of trumpets using the seaweed known as bull kelp, found along the Pacific coast of the United States. The long (up to 80 feet), hollow, whip-like plant forms a bulb at its tip. Bull kelp may be found washed up on California beaches, and since its substance is mostly water, it will shrink to a fraction of its size when it dries (if it does not first rot), become rigid and somewhat brittle. Unusual for a natural material, bull kelp provides a well formed conical bore. The bull kelp which has dried successfully may be fashioned into a trumpet, a portion of the kelp’s natural bulb becoming a flared bell. Also, with the addition of a standard brasswind mouthpiece, fresh bull kelp in its natural moist state may also be used as a trumpet. Various lip-vibrated instruments which may be fashioned from bull kelp, including forms with a multiplicity of bells, are discussed and illustrated. Techniques for drying and working kelp, as well as a discussion of kelp “woodwind” instruments, are covered in the second part of the article, in EMI vol.6 #1. [additional keywords: macro cystis; mereo cystis; Monterey Bay Aquarium]

“Plain String Calculations”: Cris Forster. 2 pages (10-11); 2 photos.
A technical article concerning plain (not wound) wire strings. Strings of steel, brass, phosphor bronze, and nylon are discussed, and tables giving the weight/volume and average tensile strengths of these materials are given. Forster points out that the musical qualities of stretched plain wire strings are closely related to a set of four acoustic variables, applied to frequency, tension, length, and diameter. The equations are given for solving for these four acoustic variables. It is the nature of these variables that if any three of them are known, the fourth can be predicted. A small amount of fairly basic mathematics is called on in the article.

“The Bluegrass Dobro: America’s 2nd Native Instrument”: Bobby Wolfe. 6 pages (13-18); 5 photos; 1 drawing; 1 diagram.
An article on resonator guitars, specifically the bluegrass-style (wooden body) Dobro. Dobro is a brandname created by John Dopera (Dopyera) and his four brothers who developed the resonator guitar in the 1920s. They also adapted resonator mechanisms to mandolins, fiddles, banjos, and ukeleles. Much detail is given about Dobro history, acoustics, and construction. (Reprinted, with modifications, from American Lutherie #5 (Spring 1986); the original article had additional information on Dobro repair). [additional keywords: Dobro Company; Hawaiian guitars; Hound Dog; Pete Kirby; National Company; Original Musical Instruments (OMI); Replica; resonator cones; Jimmie Rodgers]

Software reviews. 4 pages (18-21); 2 diagrams: JI Calc 3.1; Microtonal MIDI Terminal 1.107.

Composing “A Cosmic Koto”: Dudley Duncan. 1 page (21); 1 drawing.
Concerning a musical work composed and recorded in the late 1960s, which received Honorable Mention in the 1969 Electronic Music Contest in High Fidelity magazine. The work’s initial sound source was that of a wire guitar string drawn through a hole in, and anchored to the bottom of, a tin can. Tension on the string, which was plucked, was varied (as in a string drum), and the sound source was recorded by a “prepared” reel-to-reel tape recorder. Using this arrangement, a variety of recordings were made, which were then edited into the final piece. Included (entitled “Cosmic Koto”) on Experimental Musical Instruments – Early Years, track 18.

Book Review. 1 page (22); 1 drawing.
Jim Leonard & Janet E. Graebner, Scratch My Back: A Pictorial History of the Musical Saw and How to Play It.
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VOLUME 6 #1, JUNE 1990

“‘Bugbelly’-A T-rodimba EPB”: Tom Nunn. 4 pages (1 & 14-16); 1 photo; 1 drawing.
Tom Nunn writes about another example of his “EPB” – “electro-acoustic percussion boards” – the latest generation being a “T-rodimba,” utilizing a series of angled metal rods (which he calls “T-rods”) which resonate with complex patterns of harmonics. “Electro-acoustic percussion boards” are a family of instruments, invented and developed by Nunn, that “utilize hardwood plywood soundboards to which are attached various sound-making devices such as threaded steel rods, nails, combs, music wire, springs, highly contorted bronze rods (‘zing trees’), and textured surfaces.” EPBs are amplified by means of a contact microphone. [additional keywords: FRAP; Mothra]

Letters and Notes. 4 pages (2-5); 2 photos; 3 drawings.
Jerry Brown: On gluing superballs to a wooden dowel. Ward Hartenstein: On gourd instruments and “hand-print intonation” (w/photos). Bob Grawi: On kelphorns, in response to one of Bart Hopkin’s designs in EMI vol.5 #6 (w/drawing). Francois Baschet: Concerning the “cat piano” (a query about which was included in EMI vol.5 #5), with a translation and drawings from de Givry’s Sorcerer’s Museum. Don Wherry: Concerning the 1990 Newfoundland Sound Symposium.

“Towards a Music of the Hyperspheres”: Buzz Kimball. 4 pages (6-9); 11 photos; 4 drawings.
Buzz Kimball describes the microtonal instruments he has made. His approach is highly personal and idiosyncratic, motivated to a large part by a reaction against musical conventions, of which he is highly critical (he is also critical of Harry Partch). His move to microtonality was inspired by a 1978 article by pioneer microtonalist Ivor Darreg (p.8). The author is a resourceful, hands-on instrument maker, and the article includes a great deal of construction basics and tips. Stringed instruments, both acoustic and electric, predominate among the instruments he has made, mostly in the form of zithers and slide guitars (he was originally an electric guitarist). Here he also discusses his mallet metallophones. [additional keyword: kanon]

“Horn from the Sea: Bull Kelp, Part 2″: Bart Hopkin. 4 pages (10-13); 2 photos; 4 drawings.
The second installment of two articles on the use of bull kelp as a material in musical instruments (the first part having been in EMI vol.5 #6). This section focuses on “kelpwinds,” and kelp saxophones (of a tone-color which is “profoundly melancholy”), kelp oboes, and kelp flutes are discussed. The section on kelp flutes highlights such a flute made by Robin Goodfellow, variously called Mal de Mer and Mal de Meer. Also examined here are techniques – including kelp casting – for preparing kelp for use in making instruments. (A recording of Robin Goodfellow playing the Mal de Meer is included on the CD Experimental Musical Instruments – Early Years, track 19, part 2.) [additional keyword: double reeds]

“The Portable Booed Usic Busking Unit Nuclear Brain Physics Surgery School Lab Philosopher’s Union Member’s Mouthpiece Blatnerphone Hallucinomat”: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. 5 pages (16-20); 10 photos.
The Hallucinomat is a portable studio for concrete mixing (producing “something akin to ‘Musique Concrete’ through mixing”), filled with electronics and soundmakers (including tape players, an amplifier, speakers, a television, an amplified cymbal, etc.) and weighing in at 43 pounds. In a series of photographs with captions, Mr. cONVENIENCE walks the reader through a description of the Hallucinomat, its contents, and its setup.

“Editor’s Report: And Still Going Strong”: Bart Hopkin. 2 pages (22-3).
An editorial “stop-and-take-stock talk” as EMI began its sixth year of publication.

VOLUME 6 #2, AUGUST 1990

“Notes on the Musical Glasses”: Ed Stander. 5 pages (1 & 5-7, with an afterword, “The Physics of Musical Glasses” on 7-8); 2 photos; 8 diagrams.
The term “musical glasses” refers to the graduated set of glasses arranged to produce a scale of musical pitches. Most often the glasses are in the form of wine glasses – that is, with narrow stems and bulbous tops. Ed Stander describes in detail his own version of musical glasses. The article opens with a historical sketch of the musical glasses, the European predecessor (circa 1750-70) of the glass harmonica, which appears to have been invented in Ireland by Richard Puckeridge, in 1743. The afterword, “The Physics of Musical Glasses,” contains much information on acoustics of glasses. [additional keywords: Angelica; glasharfe; Bruno Hoffmann; Mozart]

Letters and Notes. 3 pages (2-4); 1 photo; 4 drawings.
Ben Saferstein: On building Pythagorean monochords with a high-school physics class. Hal Rammel: In response to a review (EMI vol.5 #6) of Scratch My Back, a book on the musical saw. Jeff Brown: A response to the “cat piano” debate, with ideas for additional animal-sound musical instruments (w/drawings). A note from correspondence on gourd Appalachian dulcimers (w/photo).

“A Comparative Tuning Chart”: [Bart Hopkin, et al]. 7 pages (11-17); 2 diagrams (including the chart itself on pp.12-13).
The focus of this article is a chart which lays out a variety of tuning systems so that they may be technically compared. The text portions of the article include an introduction and additional notes. Tunings included in the chart and notes are: 5-limit Just Intonation, 12-tone Equal Temperament, Quarter-Comma Meantone / 31-tone Equal Temperament, 10-tone Equal Temperament (with mention of 19-tone Equal Temperament in the notes), Harry Partch’s Monophonic Fabric (“Partch’s 43″), Ben Johnston’s 22-tone Microtonal, Erv Wilson’s Just 17-tone Genus (unfortunately, this portion of the chart is not visible in the EMI bound reprint), Blues, North Indian Raga Tunings (Darbari Kanada, Shuddha Kalyan, and Hamsadhwani, with notes by David Courtney), and Central Javanese pelog and slendro tunings (Kanjutmesem, Si Darius (slendro) / Si Madeleine (pelog), and Lipur Sih, with notes by Larry Polansky).

Book & Recording Reviews. 4 pages (18-21); 3 illustrations.
Q. David Bowers, Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments.
Those Magnificent Music Machines (LP of automatic instruments from the collection of Doyle H. Lane).
[author unknown], The Story of the Violano-Virtuoso: World’s Only Self-playing Violin & Piano.

VOLUME 6 #3, OCTOBER 1990

“Percussion Aerophones”: Bart Hopkin. 4 pages (1 & 12-14); 1 photo; 1 drawing.
“Percussion Aerophones,” also known as “plosive aerophones,” are aerophones in which the column of air is set into vibration percussively, usually by some sort of sudden jolt. The most common and practical form for a percussion aerophone to take is a cylindrical tube. Traditionally, the representative example of a percussion aerophone would be a stamping tube – a tube, sealed at the bottom end, which is tapped against (usually) the ground. Stamping tubes are found around the world, but principally in Oceania. The performance ensemble From Scratch makes extensive use of percussion aerophones, and their creations are discussed extensively in the present article (From Scratch are also featured in an article by Phil Dadson in the following issue of EMI – Vol.6, #4). [additional keywords: bootoo; Darrell DeVore; Music for Homemade Instruments]

Letters and Notes. 5 pages (2-6); 2 photos; 2 drawings; 1 diagram.
Francois Baschet: Further on the “cat piano” (piano a chats; w/drawing). Richard Kassel: A response to Buzz Kimball’s “Towards a Music of the Hyperspheres” (EMI vol.6 #1). Colin Hinz: On Nancarrow’s player piano modifications. Dennis James: On musical glasses. Cris Forster: On physics of musical glasses (w/diagram), in response to Ed Stander’s “Notes on the Musical Glasses” in EMI vol.6 #2.

“The Evolution of an Instrument: A Work in Progress / A Catalyst for Musical Development”: Tom Guralnik. 6 pages (6-11); 7 photos.
Saxophonist Tom Guralnik discusses his “(Not so) Mobile Saxophone and Mute Unit,” an array of primarily saxophone-based prepared instruments and instrument modifiers, used in connection with Guralnik’s extended-technique saxophone performances. [additional keywords: John Zorn; solo-vac]

“Would String Calculations”: Cris Forster. 4 pages (14-17); 2 diagrams.
A detailed discussion of wound musical strings, with much mathematics. Materials discussed are nylon, aluminum, steel, bronze, nickel, copper, silver, and tungsten. This article complements Cris Forster’s earlier article in EMI, “Plain String Calculations” (Vol.5, #6), concerning plain (not wound) wire strings of steel, brass, phosphor bronze, and nylon.

“Conceptual Instruments”: Douglas Kahn. 4 pages (17-20).
A discussion of theoretical instruments, which “perform for the inner ear,” described in several late 19th- and early 20th-century French and Russian writings. The French writers include J.K. Huysmans (from his novel, A Rebours, 1884), Auguste Villiers de l’Isle Adam (L’Eve Future, 1885), Guillaume Apollinaire (the story “The Moon King,” 1916), and, especially, Raymond Roussel (Impressions of Africa, 1910, and Locus Solus, 1914). The Russian Futurist Velimir Khlebnikov is also discussed; his remarkable conception, the oracular lyre of Ka, is detailed in his short story “Ka,” of 1915. Some of the conceptual instruments described may well be practically realized, but generally that would not be possible, nor should it be: “by performing for the inner ear, they [conceptual instruments] stretch listening abilities.” [additional keywords: Rene Ghil; Arthur Rimbaud; synaesthesia]

Book Reviews. 3 pages.
Boethius, trans. Calvin M. Bower, Fundamentals of Music (De institutione musica).
Floris Cohen, Quantifying Music: The Science of Music at the First Stage of the Scientific Revolution, 1580-1650.

VOLUME 6 #4, DECEMBER 1990

“Playing Music with Animals: Four Passages from Dolphin Dreamtime”: Jim Nollman. 5 pages (1 & 6-9); 4 photos.
Excerpts from the book, Dolphin Dreamtime: The Art and Science of Interspecies Communication (Bantam Books, 1987), by Jim Nollman, who works in the field of musical interaction with animals. His musical explorations include work with a variety of different land and sea animals. In addition to the excerpts from his book, specific musical instruments he has used are discussed here. One is Dolphin sticks, the “aquatic equivalent” of the Latin-music clavès, made of ironwood and played underwater (audible even to humans at 50 yards). Another is the Waterphone, Richard Waters’s friction-sounded rod instrument (it is shown in one of the photos in this article, and discussed elsewhere in EMI). The Whalesinger drum is a “floating boat-instrument,” shown in two of the photos in this article, and discussed in the second excerpt. Jim Nollman also uses an electric guitar, the sound of which is projected underwater. Also discussed is his underwater sound system. [additional keywords: Interspecies Newsletter; SeaAcoustics; Spiritual Ecology; tulke; tepanatzli]

Letters and Notes. 4 pages (2-5); 3 photos; 2 diagrams.
Michael Meadows: Some notes on musical glasses (w/diagrams) in response to Ed Stander’s “Notes on the Musical Glasses” in EMI vol.6 #2. Tom Baker: In response to the “A Comparative Tuning Chart” in EMI vol.6 #2. Photos from Colin Hinz of a Paris street orchestrion.

“From Scratch-A Background Introduction”: Phil Dadson. 4 pages (10-13, with an appendix “Instructions for Making Tuned Bamboos”); 2 photos; 4 drawings; 1 diagram.
A detailed article on the New Zealand experimental instrument ensemble, From Scratch. A number of their principal instruments are described: end-struck pipes (racks of large PVC {polyvinyl chloride} pipes, each struck over the open end with a ping-pong-paddle-like bat), tuned tongue bamboo (bamboo tongue drums, inspired by the boo of Harry Partch), tuned chimes (generally utilizing commercially available chimes), and tuned drums (roto-toms). Included is an appendix, “Instructions for Making Tuned Bamboos.” [additional keyword: lexan]

“Artspirit Sings”: Lynn Slattery Hellmuth, with additional notes by Tiit Raid, Enrique Rueda and Mary Michie. 4 pages (14-17); 12 photos; 1 drawing.
“Artspirit Sings” was a exhibition of musical sculptures which toured the state of Wisconsin during the early 1990s, inspired by a desire to develop an exhibition of sound sculpture that would make art accessible to the visually impaired. The exhibition included interactive musical sculptures as well as concert performances on additional pieces. Illustrated are a variety of sculptures by Lynn Slattery Hellmuth, Tiit Raid, Truman Lowe, Enrique Rueda, Mary Michie, and Eric Saunders-White.

“The Matzaar and Aliquot Tone Scales”: H. Barnard. 2 pages (18-19); 1 photo; 1 diagram.
H. Barnard discusses the matzaar, a rebuilt acoustic guitar (pictured) which is designed to be played in aliquot-12 tuning, and another rebuilt guitar designed to be played in aliquot-19 Shoureek-tuning (a just 19-tone system). [Aliquot tunings arise in fretted strings when the frets are equally spaced.] The accompanying diagram gives intervals for aliquot-2 through aliquot-16 systems. He makes reference to an earlier article, “Kayenian Musical Instruments,” in EMI vol.3 #1 (June 1987), as well as to additional articles in the periodical Bouwbrief. These various articles discuss the musical instruments of the imaginary Kayenian Empire. [additional keywords: Intooseel; Matz; Vvk-foundation]

Book Reviews. 2 pages; 7 drawings.
Martha Maas and Jane McIntosh Snyder, Stringed Instruments of Ancient Greece.
A.P. Gage, Introduction to Physical Science.

VOLUME 6 #5, February 1991

“The Diddley Bow in a Global Context”: Richard Graham. 3 pages (1 & 10-11); 3 drawings.
The diddley bow is a monochord zither (also called jitterbug or one strand) played in some African-American communities in the south and southeastern United States (now rare). It is “glissed” – that is, the string is fretted by a bottle, and pitches are played in glissando. This article is an examination of the instrument’s African precursors, as well as of other glissed zithers and glissed musical bows found in Central and South America. [additional keywords: benta; berimbau de bacia; carangano; kambulumbumba; mitote]

Letters and Notes. 4 pages (2-5); 7 photos; 1 drawing.
Ed Stander: Stander’s response to various responses to his Stander’s “Notes on the Musical Glasses” (EMI vol.6 #2). Hugh Davies: Further re the “cat piano” and related instruments (including the “pig organ”). Bill King: About his stringed instruments (w/photo). Notes on the pyrophone and “nose flutes.” Ben Saferstein: On his PVC instruments (w/photos).

“A Personal System for Electronic Music”: David Myers. 4 pages (6-9); 1 photo; 1 diagram.
In this article, reprinted from the English ReR Quarterly, David Myers discusses alternatives to mass-market systems of electronic music components, and describes his own electronic “personal music system,” producing what he calls “The Feedback Music.” The system involves several digital delay units and a mixer which allows you to bounce stray sounds between the delay units with extraordinary and surprising results. The article includes a side-bar sub-article “About Time Delay.” [additional keywords: DX7; MIDI; modular synth]

“Sounding Bowls — The search for harmony: Sound into form — form into sound”: Tobias Kaye. 4 pages (12-15); 7 photos; 1 diagram.
Irish-born woodworker Tobias Kaye discusses his stringed instruments made with turned wooden bowls. Five different sounding bowls – made of apple (Sounding Bowl #1), cherry (#24), rippled brown ash (#25), spalted sycamore (#29), and sycamore (#30) – are pictured and described. Pictured as well are an aeolian bowl (rippled brown ash; in which strings are struck with wind-blown beaters) and the acoustic bowl (rippled ash; the very bowl which set him wondering about making instruments from bowls; as he says, “The idea of putting musical strings across a bowl occurred to me one night while I sat on the side of my bed trying to think of other things”). [additional keywords: David Pye]

“More on Corrugated Horns”: Bart Hopkin. 2 pages (16-17); 1 photo.
A sequel to two earlier articles on corrugated horns (defined as “wind instruments using tubes with regularly spaced lateral ridges”) in EMI vol.5 #3: “Whirly Instruments,” by Sarah Hopkins, and “What is a Corrugahorn,” by Frank Crawford. Here Bart Hopkin reports on his own experiences with designing and constructing such instruments, including the multiple corrugahorns shown in the photo. [additional keywords: Richard Waters]

“The Verrillon, the Glass-Organ, a New Glass Harmonica, and Other Historical Glass Instruments”: Sascha Reckert. 3 pages (18-20); 4 photos; 7 diagrams.
An article on two glass instruments (the verrillon and the glass organ) designed and built by Sascha Reckert, as well as a discussion of three late 18th-century glass instruments (Ernst Chladni’s Euphon and Clavicylinder, and Christoph Friedrich Quandt’s Neue Harmonika) which were inspirations for the author’s own glass instruments. Diagrams are given of the sounding elements of the various instruments. [additional keywords: Bruno Hoffman; Gläserspiel; Glasharfe]

“The Smell Organ”: Joseph H. Kraus. 2 pages (21-22); 1 drawing.
Reprinted from Science and Invention (June, 1922), this article discusses an organ designed by the French chemist Dr. Septimus Piesse to combine sounds and smells in a “harmonized” way, with correspondences ranging from contrabass C (equated with patchouli) to sopranississimo f (equated with civet).

Book Review. 1 page (22).
A History of the Music Industry (special issue of The Music Trades).

VOLUME 6 #6, APRIL 1991

“The Acoustisizer”: Bob Fenger Icon. 6 pages (1 & 4-8); 8 photos; 4 diagrams/drawings.
“The Acoustisizer (ACU), simply defined, is a miniaturized prepared piano with guitar pickups and speakers built into the unit, capable of producing prepared piano-generated feedback loops, sympathetic vibration processing and sound-stimulated kinetics.” Thus begins Bob Fenger Icon’s description of his complex updating of the prepared piano. Photos of the Acoustisizer during construction, as well as diagrams and drawings, illustrate this detailed article. [additional keywords: ARP Odyssey; Richard Bunger; The Well Prepared Piano]

Letters and Notes. 2 pages (2-3); 2 drawings.
Tony Blanton: Concerning homemade instruments. Ivor Darreg: Concerning announcements of tracks on cassettes. A score of “cat music” supplied by Hugh Davies.

“Tuning for 19 Tone Equal Tempered Guitar”: Bill Sethares. 3 pages (9-11); 4 diagrams.
A practical article on the ins and outs of a guitar fretted in 19-tone equal temperament. The article includes three tuning schemes (“The All Fourths Tuning,” “The Accidental Tuning,” and “The Open Minor 7th Tuning”) as well as scale and chord charts.

“Conjoined String Systems”: Bart Hopkin. 4 pages (12-15); 11 drawings.
The first of two installments on conjoined strings, this article introducing systems of multiple conjoined strings and discussing the acoustics of such systems. Addressed are three-string and four-string systems, as well as possibilities for multiple-string systems. (Note that two strings connected end-to-end behave as if a single string.) Includes a side-bar mini-article, “2-String System Simulations, and Related Approaches to inharmonic strings.”

“Ten-foot Fiddles and Two-story Harps”: Edwin Teale. 3 pages (16-18); 6 photos.
Reprinted from Popular Science Magazine (1938), this article explores the remarkable instruments designed and constructed during the second quarter of the 20th century by Arthur K. Ferris, a Flanders, New Jersey, landscape gardener, during his spare time. The “two-story harp” of the title refers to an enormous harp, with a cello-shaped body, which required 8-foot-long strings and a raised platform for playing. A photo of the instrument is included – the bottom-end of the instrument near the camera, and Mr. Ferris, off in the distance, plucking the higher strings. Of interest is Ferris’s unusual choice of woods for his instruments, including such woods as sassafras, tulip, thuja [thuya], crab apple, and poison sumac. Additional instruments include the “whispering harp” (shown being played by Mrs. Ferris), the “bridal lap harp” (a combination violin and harp, shown being played by two players), three “violinettes,” and the “suitcase viol” (a large bass viol with a rectangular body which doubles as a carrying case for smaller instruments).

Book Review. 1 page (19).
Frederick R. Newman, Mouthsounds.

“Patenting for Musical Instruments”: Bart Hopkin. 4 pages (20-23); 1 drawing.
A article on practical issues relating to patenting instruments, including a general discussion on patents, the procedures for obtaining a patent, and the necessity (or lack thereof) of having an instrument patented. A short list of relevant U.S. government offices and helpful books is included.

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