MORE ‘MOE

This article talks about recent developments in the ‘Moe family of instruments, which are tubular wind instruments with a unique pitch-control system. I’ve made ‘Moe clarinets, ‘Moe saxes, ‘Moe flutes and ‘Moe membrane reeds. The current article is actually one of a...

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FORCED VIBRATION

Among the other essays posted on this site is one called “Man, What a Weird World That would Be: Where Would We Be Without Hoooke’s Law?”. It talks about the fact that most musical vibrations come about due to the natural resilience or springiness of whatever it is...

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NAMES AND APPEARANCES

After many years of building, I find that I’ve now made so many instruments that I have trouble keeping track of them. I try to come up with a name for each new instrument I make, but having done so I often forget the names, or forget which name goes with which...

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SORRY-ASS ORGAN

I like to report occasionally on instrument designs that were less than perfectly successful because, as we all know, there’s as much to be learned from the unsuccesses as from the successes. This is one of those reports. It’s easier than you might expect to make a...

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THE WINDOW OF AUDIBILITY

I like to report occasionally on instrument designs that were less than perfectly successful because, as we all know, there’s as much to be learned from the unsuccesses as from the successes. This is one of those reports. It’s easier than you might expect to make a...

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IMPEDANCE

Imagine the following situation: You decide to make a set of tuned chimes in the form of a number of aluminum tubes of graduated lengths. You start by making your first chime at some reasonable length. When you mount it and strike it with a suitable mallet, it sounds...

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INSTRUMENTARIUM HOPKINIS SAMPLE LIBRARIES

Getting the impedance relationships right: for many types of musical instruments, this is one of the less appreciated, less understood, and more important aspects of instrument making. Acoustic impedance is a technical subject and you can find articles on the web and...

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PALINDROMES

Announcing (fanfare): I’ve now started the process of creating a set of sample libraries featuring instruments from the Hopkin Instrumentarium (which is to say, featuring instruments that I’ve made). The collection is to be produced and released by Soundiron, one of...

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EVERYONE WANTS BEACH-FRONT REAL ESTATE

(The Only Article On This Website That’s Not About Musical Instruments.)   Having tasted all sorts of fowl over the years, the connoisseur is not thrilled when he sees seabirds on the dinner menu: Well, ug! Albatross is sorta blah. Gull? Ew!   I tell my friend Al that...

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ELASTIC STRINGS

(An article about magnetic pickups, and how best to utilize finite pickup frontage space ) What kind of pickup should I put on this instrument I’m planning to build? A piezo? A magnetic pickup? An onboard microphone? For instruments in which the initial vibrating body...

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AGITATION PIPES

Musical strings made from rubber bands make an appealing sound. The tone has lots of fundamental and almost no overtones.The decay is rapid, and the overall feeling is sort of softly punchy, both warm and rhythmic. Almost all books of home-buildable instruments for...

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENT CATEGORIZATION SYSTEMS

Many years ago the artist Peter Richards created a beautiful outdoor sound work which he called the Wave Organ. As much as the Wave Organ is a sculptural piece, it is very much a locale, a place to be. It’s situated at the end of a jetty extending into San Francisco...

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ADVENTURES IN FRICTION

(The Only Article On This Website That’s Not About Musical Instruments.)   Having tasted all sorts of fowl over the years, the connoisseur is not thrilled when he sees seabirds on the dinner menu: Well, ug! Albatross is sorta blah. Gull? Ew!   I tell my friend Al that...

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FUNDAMENTAL, HARMONICS, OVERTONES, PARTIALS, MODES

What’s in this article: An overview of different ways of creating friction vibrations, a discussion of principles and techniques pertaining to the making of friction instruments, and short descriptions of several friction instruments I’ve made. In recent years I’ve...

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ALUMINUM DISK GONGS (Article #2)

As many readers will already know, most musical sounds contain multiple frequencies. These frequencies come about as the results of different modes of vibration -- that is, different patterns of vibratory movement -- coexisting in the physical body that is the source...

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ALUMINUM DISK GONGS (Article #1)

Article 2: A More Sophisticated Approach In an article posted prior to this one, I presented the basics for making simple aluminum disk gongs. This follow-up article assumes that you’re familiar with the approach described there, so if you haven’t read that article...

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ALTERNATIVES FOR PITCH CONTROL IN WIND INSTRUMENTS

I like to report occasionally on instrument designs that were less than perfectly successful because, as we all know, there’s as much to be learned from the unsuccesses as from the successes. This is one of those reports. It’s easier than you might expect to make a...

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PLAY HERE

Imagine the following situation: You decide to make a set of tuned chimes in the form of a number of aluminum tubes of graduated lengths. You start by making your first chime at some reasonable length. When you mount it and strike it with a suitable mallet, it sounds...

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SOUNDS AND SILENCE

After many years of building, I find that I’ve now made so many instruments that I have trouble keeping track of them. I try to come up with a name for each new instrument I make, but having done so I often forget the names, or forget which name goes with which...

read more

ENGRAVINGS OF EARLY ACOUSTICAL APPARATUS

This article talks about recent developments in the ‘Moe family of instruments, which are tubular wind instruments with a unique pitch-control system. I’ve made ‘Moe clarinets, ‘Moe saxes, ‘Moe flutes and ‘Moe membrane reeds. The current article is actually one of a...

read more

NORTH-SOUTH/EAST-WEST CHIMES

Musical strings made from rubber bands make an appealing sound. The tone has lots of fundamental and almost no overtones.The decay is rapid, and the overall feeling is sort of softly punchy, both warm and rhythmic. Almost all books of home-buildable instruments for...

read more

MASTERY VS. GO-FOR-A-RIDE

Imagine the following situation: You decide to make a set of tuned chimes in the form of a number of aluminum tubes of graduated lengths. You start by making your first chime at some reasonable length. When you mount it and strike it with a suitable mallet, it sounds...

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OVER-UNDER SCALES

In recent years there has been a three-day street festival each fall in San Francisco called the Market Street Prototyping Festival, organized by the city and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The organizers commission people to create installations and exhibits...

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THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

  For people that spend time in the world of new music, especially in academic circles, one of leading themes of the last several decades has been alternative intonations systems – that is, tuning systems other than the standard western scale known as twelve-tone...

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OVERTONES HARMONIC AND INHARMONIC

Many years ago, I conceived and built an instrument that I called Bentwood Chalumeau. It was a type of glisssando clarinet, a precursor of the instrument that I now call ‘moe which can be seen in this site’s instrumentarium. It had an unusual pitch control system,...

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THE TERRITORY BETWEEN CLEAR PITCH AND PURE NOISE

  For people that spend time in the world of new music, especially in academic circles, one of leading themes of the last several decades has been alternative intonations systems – that is, tuning systems other than the standard western scale known as twelve-tone...

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ORIENTATION OF THE OSCILLATION

Many years ago, I conceived and built an instrument that I called Bentwood Chalumeau. It was a type of glisssando clarinet, a precursor of the instrument that I now call ‘moe which can be seen in this site’s instrumentarium. It had an unusual pitch control system,...

read more

SYNTHESIS vs SAMPLING

Hooke’s Law is a principle of physics – a description of how certain interactions in the physical world work. The principle is not as inviolable as the word “law” implies, but since Robert Hooke first articulated it in the seventeenth century, it has proven broadly...

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SLOPPINESS

This aspect of musical instrument design isn’t always talked about, but I encourage instrument makers to take it into consideration, because it’s often instructive and illuminating. For many string instruments and idiophones, it can be useful to think about direction...

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SCALE AND TIMBRE

Hooke’s Law is a principle of physics – a description of how certain interactions in the physical world work. The principle is not as inviolable as the word “law” implies, but since Robert Hooke first articulated it in the seventeenth century, it has proven broadly...

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