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 www.ana-r.org 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.