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.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Alien Bell Monster

The Alien Bell Monster is constructed out of phone bells, a tea kettle, some weird brass candy dish poached egg holders, metal goblets, and a brass cup. Just Click on the link below to hear a wee tiny bit the Alien Bell Monster

Alien Bell Monster with multitap delay.wav

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Friday, June 09, 2006

Aluminum Percussive Tube with Bell

That’s really all there is to say about this piece. It’s an aluminum tube with a bell free floating in the bottom. You play it percussively. It sounds good. Maybe I should call it The Aluminum Percussive Tube with Bell that Sounds Good I really wanted this post to be funnier than it turned out to be.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Things I find in the Fridge

“The only good refrigerator is a dead refrigerator.” If I was to write a movie about some crazy guy that builds instruments, dresses and furniture out of garbage that would be the line I use right before our hero puts a shotgun blast through the brains of one of the army of undead refrigeration units.

Refrigerator grates are another one of my favorites. It’s right up there with stainless steel salad bowls, but still a bit behind chicken cookers (just read some of the other blog entries and you’ll understand what I’m talking about)

This grate did in fact come from my fridge. Luckily enough for me there was a new fridge in our kitchen. I have found over the years that, in the interest of harmonious relationships that one should not dismantle working appliances for art sake.

This, thank god was not a working appliance. Every six months or so I would have to get out the hammer and a slot screw driver and go on an ice expedition into the deepest coldest recesses of our refrigerator, often uncovering ancient bottles of hot sauce, or some weird condiment my mother had given me years ago because she thought it tasted like crap. The ice would build up to be about a foot and a half thick in some places. Once I found a human hand, or rather a human like hand.

At this point you’re probably wondering what this has to do with building and the functionality of musical instruments. Absolutely nothing, but it sounds infinitely more interesting than saying I build a rectangular box out of wood and mounted a fridge grate on it.

Thumb Piano 4 Little Thunder

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Thumb Piano 3 the Hail Mary Full of Grace Model

Thumb Piano 2 The V Model

This is the second thumb piano I've built in a month. What's up with that? Actually I have loved making them. This one was inspired by an artist named Victor Gama. He is an instrument builder and a performer. Last month I did a show with Victor and drum builder named David Hind at the Harbourfront Center called All Over The Map: A Feast of Global Sounds. Now all I can think about are thumb pianos and drums. The V in the name is for Victor if you haven't already figured that out.

The instrument consists of one brass bowl I found on one of my many junk shop excursions, and the hexagonal disks I found in the coach house behind my watering hole. Each disk is cut slightly smaller than the last.

I think I will be making many more of these things in the months to come.

Big Joe

Big Joe's the name. What can I say about this one. It's a big frickin' drum with six strings stretched across the skin, and three strings that run from the end of the neck to the base of the drum. Not only do the add a nice lower tone to the instrument, but depending on the tension you apply to them can affect the pitch of the top six strings.

Rhythm Stick

This is a photo collage I did of the Rhythm Stick, partly for art sake, but mostly because the instrument is over five feet tall and at it's greatest length only six inches. This makes it hard to shoot with a good background in a small apartment. The Rhythm Stick can be plucked, struck, bowed, stomped, smacked, and whacked. The wood for the stick was taken out of an old basement, it was the banister from a staircase we were tearing out. I figure it has to be close to a hundred years old. There are three very light gauge acoustic strings near the head of the instrument, and one long piano string that runs down the length of the pole. The head is made from an old wooden salad bowl. I'm guessing by the look of it, some time in the seventies it was made. The face of the head was carved out of a wooden sugar container, which I believe may also have originated in the seventies. The attachment piece from the head to the pole was taken off a lamp, which I'm just going to say was probably from the seventies. There is a nice brass handle mounted off to the back, and if you look just below the tuning pegs there are eight handmade figure eight swirls that I use to make my metal dresses. If you would like to see some of those dresses click here.

Rusty, the saw blade steel drum.

I love Rusty, though I don't think he cares to much for me. There are cuts and scratches on me everywhere. Eleven different sized saw blades to cut and scrape you as often as you like.
I got this idea from a book that Jen had brought home from the library. I believe it was called Sound Designs or Instrument Designs, I'm not sure. If you know please tell me so I can stop sounding like an idiot. The gentlemen who's name escapes me at the moment created what he called the Wheels of Time. I liked it so much that I built my own. I did have to follow my own rules in the construction of such things. The blades could not be new. They had to be found or found cheap. Found cheap was what they turned out to be. Rusted and used. Just the way I like it.

ok it has only been a few days since i posted this instrument, but I have found the book and the names of the authors.
Sound Designs: A Handbook of Musical Instrument Building
Reinhold Banek & Jon Scoville
Anybody interested in building there own instruments should try and find a copy of this book.
iner out.

Bamboo xylophone

I know that this is not the most experimental of experimental instruments but, that's just the way it works some times.
I found these pieces of bamboo when I was on vacation in mid July, and thought to myself hey why don't I make a xylophone. I've always wanted a xylophone.

View this clip on Vimeo

Tin cup badness

Alright. This is exactly what the title says it is Tin Cup badness.
I had such high hopes for this one. In my many attempts to impress the drummer in Jon Was A Machine who's name is Sean. I attempted, and still attempting to make many different percussive trinkets for him to add to his kit. Now, one such as myself who knows absolutely nothing about drumming and the good sounds that go along with it, thought it would be easy to screw a bunch of old metal cups that Jen had bought me to the back of an old wooden chair I found on the street. Let me tell you this. My thoughts were wrong. Very wrong. It sounds and looks like crap. So after I finish typing this i think I may have to go and smash it.
Tin Cup badness be gone.

Thumb Piano 1

What can I say? I have always wanted a thumb piano. I built this after I did a show at the Harbourfront Center with two other artists. Victor Gama, and David Hind.
The piano was built from a weird bowl and a funky hand carved face plate I found at the Goodwill. The tines were from a rake head I found lying in the middle of Queen Street watching cars run it over. I knew it had to be saved and built into a thumb piano. There are four round pieces of wood attached to it. Two are mounted underneath the tines about a half an inch apart. The third one is mounted on top of the tines in between the two underneath. The fourth is free floating and place underneath to help apply pressure. You can adjust the tuning by loosening the top piece of wood and sliding the tines back or forth to whatever tuning turns you on. So there.

Various Percussive Sticks

Aluminum and Copper Chimes

These are a few chimes I have built. I know they're not very experimental, but they were an interesting exercise. The aluminum chimes i built from a couple of chimes I found at the Goodwill. Now for those of you that are saying right now "oh how hard can it be to attach a set of chimes to a piece of wood" well let me tell you. I went through four different types of string and fishing wire. Some materials just dampen the sound something awful. Next is the fact that tying the little noisy pieces of metal to the eye screws proved to be quite the pain in the arse. There was much cursing that went on in the hour and a half that it took me to attach ten chimes to a piece of wood. Jen just left the room and my putty mouth behind. In the end I do enjoy the way it looks and the sound it makes, but I am going to have to take it out of the window. The sounds are starting to make me go mad.
The copper chimes were a bit more of a challenge. I cut each piece myself with the help of the book Sound Designs which I talk about in the part about rusty the saw blade steel drum. i actually cut two of each and hung them on both sides to fill the sound out a bit more. I have nothing else to say about chimes right now.