Monday, November 20, 2006

Aluminum Xylophone

Okay, this thing just plain sucked so it got smashed real good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tongue Drum Three

I would have to say that to date I still feel the first tongue drum I built was the best out of the three. This one is close, and by far better than Tongue Drum Two the Adventures in Naughty Pine. For this one I used a different type of wood which was great. All the sites I have been to suggest using a harder wood then soft. I think that’s why number two sounded so flat and boring. I don’t actually know what kind of wood this is that I was using; it was just something I found at one of my local second hand shops. These were part of a four box set of containers one might find in a kitchen from the seventies. Coffee and flour were once the jobs of these two boxes, and now a whole world of noise awaits them. Of course I had to add on the fridge grate bit. I think I will look back on the year Two Thousand and Six as the year of the refrigerator grate. Those two little sticks with the knobs on the tops are the sticks one would use to beat this instrument down.


Anonymous said...

I'm going at my mother's home this week end, I'm sure she has that kind of wood boxes in her attic, So maybe I will make my first tongue drum too !

11:45 AM
Anonymous said...

I recently made a very basic four-tongue drum using an Altoids tin and a knife. I now have a rudimentary tongue drum and a messed-up knife, as well as lots of fun.

I gotta say, I never would have thought of any of the instruments I make without having visited your site, Iner. You're quite an inspiration.
1:36 AM
iner said...

Ah shucks
6:45 PM

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Evolution of the Fridge

Fridge grates, oh fridge grates I love you. If I was singing a song about fridge grates that’s what I would sing, but I’m not so let it go man. This is just a blog about crazy instruments.

Over the years I have used refrigerator grates in quite a few different instruments. There is the Two Stringed Golf and Refrigerator Bass one of my first instruments built that I actually liked, and the more percussive instruments such as the Percussive Computer Panel, and The Things from the Fridge series 1, 2, and 3. I guess the point I’m try to make is that the fridge grate has become one of those materials that has a permanent place in my spaceship/workshop. Much like the metal salad bowls, or the lovely and talented fan grates, and last, but most defiantly not least, the Chicken Cooker. Yes the fridge grate is now part of the local junkman’s list of must haves, and I think it is this instrument that put it there.

I have yet to name this instrument, as it stands now The Evolution of the Fridge is where it’s at. These things can and will change with time, but for right now let me talk a little on this new piece. In one of my fits of bowing madness I came up with the idea of bending the grate in a semi circle fashion in order to make the bowing of each of the tines more distinct for one, but also so that each individual tine is easier to reach. This worked out just as I had thought it would. The chamber I built was more of a piece together a few of the scraps I have lying around the spaceship and see what happens. I find the recycling of my own garbage to be just as rewarding as the recycling of others.

Once the resonating chamber was built I ran two springs down the center of the box, attached the face and grate, and then started bowing. I was getting some really cool sounds with the bow, but it wasn’t until I brought it out to a Jam night that I truly discovered it’s magic. Getting tired of bowing and the sounds I was making I decided to play the instrument in a bit more of a percussive manor. At first it was just a few taps on the box, then I would run a pen back and forth across the tines, but it was when I started plucking the tines that I got the sounds this instrument was suppose to make. All of a sudden I had a really messed up looking bass on my hands. I spent the rest of the night playing the Evolution that way, and have continued to play it like that since. Occasionally I will pull out the bow, but that’s only when the tips of my fingers get raw, and need a break.

I look forward to seeing how the fridge grate will evolve in my work over the next few years. It’s a good thing I have this blog to keep as my record.

Here are some comments that were left for this instrument.

Improvisors̢۪ pool said...

Aww, this one looks sweet. Wait, they all look sweet. You must add mp3 files.

The Lone Guitarist said...

yeah some mp3 files of these cool instruments/creations would help put them into perspective a bit

Failed Spooning

This instrument did not work out at all, and I think I know why.
Let me start by telling you where the idea came from, because it wasn’t mine. I saw it in a music store in Fredericton New Brunswick. A couple of spoons mounted on a piece of wood. How easy is that? Well I messed mine up, and I think it’s because of the spoons I used. It would appear to me that these spoons are cast. What I need to make this work better is spoons with some tension in them so they can bounce up and down a bit more easily. When I do remake this instrument I think I may also want to hollow out the piece of wood so I get a bit of a resonance chamber going on. Live and learn.

Here are some comments that were left for this instrument.

missy_2_shoes said...

try try again... I actually bought one of these readymadespoonsets for my arthritic Grampa who can no longer hold two regular spoons to rattle on anymore. It was cool, and yours look way nicer. (Sam with the Cameron family is a killer spooner... and have you seen his slinky instrument? I bet you guys compare notes :)

Tongue Drum Two: The Adventures of Naughty Pine

This here is my second attempt at constructing a tongue drum. Ever since I split this crazy blog up I have been thinking that I need to start building more percussive instruments, and instead of just duct tapping a bunch of different sized cans together I thought I might try my hand at actually building something from scratch. I thought I would start with the tongue drum. I built one about two years back but it was very small, and only had the two slats, that I might like to add were equal in length, which is something that you might want to try and avoid if you’re looking for different tones. Back in the good old days I built stuff by what my eyes remembered, there was no math, there was no science. I was just flying by the seat of my pants. Well two days ago when I started to build the new tongue drum that all changed.
I used pine in the construction only due to the fact that the piece of hardwood I had cut for this new drum snapped clean in half as I was finishing my grooves. Pine was all I had left so I moved forward and started to make my cuts. At first the grooves in between where much smaller, but two bad things were happening. One, they would occasionally rub together when struck, and two, there wasn’t much volume to be had. So I got out the jig saw and free handed the re-cut. I do not recommend free cutting with a jigsaw if your loved ones are apposed to loud obscenities coming from a space room somewhere deep in the bowels of a two bedroom apartment. Oh and it might be dangerous to boot. So after fixing my cuts and giving the thing a good sanding I was ready to piece it together. Before putting the under plate on I decided to mount a spring inside the box running the length of the instrument. I can’t yet tell if this is doing anything, but I will let you know as soon as I bring it out to a Jam night.
Before I go I would just like to say that if you do decide to build one of these, try to find a harder wood then pine, over all I would say the piece as a whole sounds a bit flat, and that’s that.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thumb Piano Eight

I guess this is where I try to use up all the scrap pieces of wood and other interesting bits of metal. I do enjoy building them, and always bring them out to recordings and jams. It also gives me something to do when I’m waiting for the glue, paint, and varnish to dry on some of the bigger pieces, which in turn helps to keep the creative juices flowing. This one is made from rake tines, but I’m starting to run out of them. I think I may have to try an all aluminum one next.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rain Sticks Three

What can I say? I had way too many nails kicking around taking up valuable scrap wood real estate.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My First Gong

Ha. I just hammered out my first gong/symbol. I have been putting off trying to do this for years now, but let me just say it’s a lot easier then I thought it would be. In total I spent about an hour bashing away at it. When I say bashing I mean controlled wailing. It was some kind of crazy aluminum metal mix but I’m not entirely sure, and I’m only guessing at that do to its somewhat pliable nature. It fit perfectly on top of an old disk break I have; they’re great when using them as the base for stands. The one side was for the larger circle, and the other was for the smaller one in the center. This will defiantly be added to my regular list of junk items that are gold.


Mike Whitla said...

How does this sound iner?

Is it a specific pitch or just a bunch of overtones?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Metal Hand Drum

Well after much waiting, my good friend Jeremy finally sent me a photo of this instrument I had built some time ago. This is one of the many remnants from my past, when I was not so good at documenting my sculptures or paintings. Oh the pieces I’ve lost to laziness and indifference. It’s a good thing that we jam together on a weekly basis or this one may have been lost forever.

The face of the instrument is a chicken cooker. Back then I was trying to find ways to put those things into any and every piece I was working on. I have since refined that process. I must say as far as metal percussive instruments I have built, this one has to be the least offensive. I placed a contact mic right in the center of the plate, so as you play outward from the middle the tone and volume change. To add to that effect I added tone and volume knobs, and I find that playing this instrument with your fingers gives the best results. The large rectangular object that sweeps out from the side was part of the amplification system out of an old gramophone that was beyond repair. All of it pieces found a good home and a new life still within the music industry.

The bass is part of a disk brake system; I find these in front of my local garage all the time. They are nice and heavy and keep the instrument from bouncing around to much. The pole on which this instrument is attached is from an old salon hairdryer, so it has the option of pivoting back and forth to suit one’s playable comforts.

With the contact mic right in the center on the face plate one is able to place other objects on this instrument, in order to amplify them. I once rocked out for 40 minutes with a thump piano, a bow, and a brass bell using this technique. And yes you can rock out with a thumb piano.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Refrigerator grates now have made it into six of the last eight instruments I have built. I still feel like I have not yet captured the soul of my fridge yet. There are some things that man should just never understand.

This one is a bit different in that I turned what has been a recent problem of things leaking in my fridge into an artistic solution where I just add water before hand. That’s right, this new one needs water to reach its full potential. This isn’t my first attempt at water based instruments and probably won’t be my last. The first was the Water Fisher Tube which worked out alright, but never really saw the light of day. I built it and immediately hung it in a bar. The second was the Round Bowed String Thing. Which saw a bit more action. It has traveled around in different art shows, been used live on stage, and is in the process of being recorded for an album (or something similar to whatever a group recording noises of experimental instruments can be). The Hydrofridge-a-phone

is just an evolutionary process of building. All my contact points are sealed with water resistant silicon, the chamber of the instrument is free of obstructions, and for this one I had the foresight to add an air hole for easy draining. I’m guessing it holds about 120 ounces of liquid, but really I think about twenty to thirty ounces might be enough to do the trick. What trick you ask? It’s the trick of messing with the pitch of the instrument; you can add as little or as much as you like, though I suspect there is probably a cutoff point. Once you have added the water, start bowing the refrigerator tines. As you do this just slowly turn the instrument on an angle, swishing around the water inside. If all goes well you will start to hear the pitch of the tines start to bend slightly.

The best example I can think of where this technique is used to its fullest potential would be an instrument designed by Richard Waters called the Waterphone. Not only is it quite lovely to look at, but it is also a beautiful sounding instrument.

Maybe one day I too can have an instrument I’ve designed be named after me. Inerphone is too obvious, but how about the Inertar, no wait I think I’ll call it the Inerimbau, or the Ineriano. Yeah, these are all stating to sound great; I think I’ve spent too much time out of the spaceroom.

Time to recompress.

Iner out.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fat Thumbs Piano

Once again a piece from the Excess Space Baggage series a five tongued thumb piano mounted on some kind of napkin holder. All these lovely things were just lying around the spaceroom so I thought I would mount them all together and see what happens.

I still feel that I have yet to really rap my head around the true potential of the thumb piano, but I feel confident that day will soon come.


Matt said...

I have a double bridge thumb piano made with a gourd. There is a hole in each side (3 total; those two and the sound hole under the tines) that allow you to put your fingers there and if you continually touch the hole and move away from it you get a really fun vibrato sound.

I'll upload it to one of my sites and send you the link to it; my description may not be all too great.

Happy Tuesday!


iner said...

that would be cool Matt thanks

Michael said...

What are the tines on this one?


Relating to what Matt said - I once had a thumb piano with similar holes in the side that was fun to play by covering up one of the side holes and putting the other one up to your mouth so you could use your mouth/vocal cavity to shape the resonance, jawharp style..

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Little Tiny Things from the Fridge

Once again the fridge grates have taken over, slowly I think my obsessions have moved from chicken cookers and metal salad bowls over to refrigerator grates. I may have to start a whole subsection for this category.

This piece is part of the Excess Space Baggage series, which you can learn more about in the next few blog entries.


Anonymous said...

mini ovens grates are also great !

This is my new everyday obsession to find on the pavement of Paris.

check our site we now have a museum part, would you like to participate and send us some picture and mp3 of one of your wonderful intruments ?
let us know,


Friday, September 15, 2006

Alien Bell Monster Two

I liked the first Alien Bell Monster so much that I had to build a second. This is by far the dirtier and more dangerous of the bell monsters, but it had to be done.

It would seem that for the past few weeks I have been going through the spaceship in search of wild and weird parts that just don’t seem to fit anywhere else. Once I find them I make all those odd balls fit together whether they like it or not. So the next four posts will be of just that. I think I will call them Excess Space Baggage

I’m looking forward to recording this beast and then fining it a proper home.

Some things you will find on the second bell monster are a kids bicycle bell, a sink drain, two carburetor caps, a refrigerator grate, a tea kettle, two metal salad bowls, a circler saw blade, some weird metal disks I found on an old Japanese massager, a little tiny kids cymbal, plus a bunch of other various metal parts.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Bell Tower of Babel

After having such a sonic reward from building the Alien Bell Monster I decided to expand on the idea a little. Basically I added a bunch more bells, which aren’t really bells. There are soap dishes, serving bowls, metal cups, little trinkets I find in the neighborhood, and OK maybe a couple of bells.

The tower stands at a whopping 130 cm or for all my friends south of the boarder 51 inches. There are 21 bell like objects mounted up the pole at varying heights and placements. I tried to set them into groups of three or four that sounded good together. Also attached to the pole is a spring that runs almost the full length of the piece, and one tunable piano string. The bass of the instrument is a disk from a breaking system of some body’s car. Who’s car? I have no idea.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Things From the Fridge 3 Strings and Things

My Oblique Strategy for the Things from the Fridge 3 Strings and Things was You are an Engineer

Oddly enough the same card came up for the Things from the Fridge 2. It was at that point that I decided to remove the cards from the deck after they had been chosen.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Things from the Fridge 2

My Oblique Strategy for the Things from the Fridge 2 was You are an engineer

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hail Mary Full of Grace Rebuild

The title says it all. I wasn’t really happy with the direction this instrument was going so I decided to add a few different features to it. The most obvious of that being the similarities to the two slide stringed instruments I have recently built. You can just scroll down a little to see some images of them. If you would like to see the original version of this instrument just click here.

I am still hoping that I won’t go to hell for cutting up these rosary beads.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Little Tongue Drum One

Sometimes I fell like I post any and everything I do. That’s not true. I built this instrument some time ago, and kind of just lost track of it. There are a few out there like that.

A very simple instrument to build that is easy and fun to play. You can suck as bad as I do, and still be able to pull this one off. It would be nice to have a bunch of these with different tunings.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thumb Piano Five

The most boring looking of all my thumb pianos to date is the Thumb Piano Five. Don’t let the name fool you, this thumb piano is a maniac. Thumb pianos or “Kilimba” as the Hippies like to call them don’t get any zanier than this one. Just look at those wacky tongues. That’s how you can tell crazy, the tongues.Here’s a sketch I did of a Kilimba. It has nothing to do with the one in the photo. I like to use pencils.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Percussive Computer Panel

I don’t know if I should put this on my experimental instrument page or my lost in time and space page.

This is part of my spaceship, the percussive part of my spaceship.

As I’m writing this it has occurred to me that the spaceship could in fact be the largest experimental instrument I have built to date.

As you can see there are many different things you can play on this panel. Some of the things include, saw blades, refrigerator grates, and numerous springs.

This entire box is built on hinges so you can open or close them to get different levels of sound. The box not only acts as a resonator, but it also holds all my painting gear, tools odd electronic things that must be destroyed, and some 8mm video cassettes from my misspent youth.

It’s practical, playable, and occasionally projects me into outer space.