Musical Siren
Musical sirens use a sound-making system related to that of an old-fashioned warning siren. The musical siren is less efficient acoustically, and thus much quieter, but it can produce a musical scale. A rotating disk is perforated with many holes arranged in concentric rings, with different numbers of holes in each ring. The nozzle of a blow-tube is held as close as possible without touching, directed toward one of the rings. Each time a hole passes under the nozzle a puff of air passes through. You get different puffing frequencies, and thus different notes, by directing the nozzle toward different rings with their different numbers of holes rotating past per second. (The acoustic reality is actually a bit more complex than is suggested by “a puff of air passes through,” but this description at least gives some sense of the periodicity of the system.)

The instrument shown in the main photo is a chromatic siren recently made with in collaboration with Aaron Soloway.  In the smaller photo an earlier musical siren, with much more limited range, is being played. For more on sirens, see here, here and here.

Share This