TUBULAR CHIMES, ALTERED

This article is written to accompany the video called "Tubular Chimes, Altered", which you can find posted online here. The video shows several modifications you can make to simple tubular chimes to create more varied and interesting chime sounds. The descriptions in...

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POTWOT: A Torsional Musical Instrument

Most musical instruments are designed to work with one or the other of two types of vibratory movement: transverse or longitudinal. Very Loosely speaking, transverse vibration typically involves cross-wise movements in the vibratory medium; it is what we normally see...

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COIL SPRINGS AS SOUND SOURCES

Coil springs can make very interesting sounds, and a lot of experimental instrument makers and sound seekers have worked with them. This article looks at some of the sound possibilities that coil springs present.

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SCRAPING

An exploration of the sonic world of scrape, and description of a battery of scraped instruments analogous to drum set.

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THE SPEAKER DRIVER INSTRUMENT

The components in the photo on this page make up a musical instrument called the Speaker Driver Instrument. The elements of it, you can see, are an inexpensive little electronic keyboard, a stereo amplifier, a speaker driver minus its speaker cone, and a scrap of...

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GUITAR-LIKE-THINGS

Hooray for through-and-through originality: It’s wonderful when a newly conceived musical instrument presents a whole new musical landscape to explore.  On the other hand, there’s also value in presenting a new instrument idea with at least some familiar elements –...

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STRING LATTICE GUITAR

In this post you’ll find a description of a potentially very interesting idea in string instrument design.  But as you’ll see as you near the end of the post, my attempt to exploit the idea wasn’t terribly successful. Still, it’s an interesting enough concept to...

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SOLOWAY SIREN AND SAXTON SAVART

Two events-per-second instruments: Savart’s Wheel and Musical Siren, with a focus on how to tune for just and equal-tempered scales on instruments of this sort.

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FLOPPING OVER

Floppy bands of spring steel can be the produce wonderful sounds. This post describes several musical instruments by Bart Hopkin which use such bands.

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SLOPPINESS

Perfectionism in music-making brings exquisite music into the world. But un-perfectionism brings another sort of richness.

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ANIMATIONS

I have been exploring the idea of creating animated videos to accompany music made on my instruments …

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MORE ‘MOE

‘Moes are wind instruments which have a pitch-control system involving an open slit and a magnetic strip. This article discusses recent work developments in the ‘Moe family.

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FORCED VIBRATION

Most instruments produce sound by taking advantage of a natural springiness in things. Far fewer are instruments which create a forced oscillation at specific frequencies.

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THE WINDOW OF AUDIBILITY

Most acoustic sound sources produce many frequencies simultaneously, resulting from multiple modes of vibration present in the vibrating body. This article addresses the question of which of these are likely to be most prominent in the tone and to be recognized as the defining pitch.

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IMPEDANCE

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.

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INSTRUMENTARIUM HOPKINIS SAMPLE LIBRARIES

Selected Instruments of the Hopkin Instrumentarium are now to be sampled and released in a series of sample libraries. This is a new filed for Bart, the instrument maker, and in this post he talks about first impressions.

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ELASTIC STRINGS

Musical strings made from elastic materials bands make an appealing sound. This article discusses the ins and outs of putting them to use, and the various types of elastic material that can serve. It then describes some elastic string instruments that the author has made.

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AGITATION PIPES

Broad spectrum sounds filtered through tubular air chambers with well defined resonance frequencies: this idea can produce very interesting musical results. This article discusses several instruments that work this way.

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ADVENTURES IN FRICTION

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.

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FUNDAMENTAL, HARMONICS, OVERTONES, PARTIALS, MODES

Thoughts about the terminology used in talking about the multiple-frequency blends that make up musical and non-musical sounds, and how that terminology relates to the underlying physical reality and the ear’s ways of perceiving such blends.

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ALUMINUM DISK GONGS (Article #2)

The second of two articles on making and tuning simple disk gongs. This one describes an approach to tuning that is more sophisticated than the rudimentary approach described in the first article, and addresses the underlying acoustics more than the previous one.

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ALUMINUM DISK GONGS (Article #1)

The first of two articles on making simple disk gongs. This one outlines the simpler approach; the other takes on acoustics and tuning questions in a more sophisticated way.

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NORTH-SOUTH/EAST-WEST CHIMES

Some time ago I posted on this site an essay under the title “Orientation of the Oscillation.”  In it I talked about the importance of the direction of the oscillation in an instrument’s main vibrating bodies (strings, bars, tines or whatever): how the orientation of...

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