Squash Bells Forks


Spike Jones, the mid-twentieth-century master of goofball musicianship, was a whiz on a tuned cowbell set (among many other instruments). The Cowforks & Bells shown here are my attempt to recreate some of the sound and feeling of his cowbell set. The lower-pitched bells are squashed pipe bells, which are made from short sections of thinwall steel pipe flattened at one end to create something of a bell form. The higher-pitched bells are not actually bells; they take shape as short sections of aluminum pipe only partially squashed toward one end, and forked at that same end (slits are cut into the sides, allowing for the vibration of the opposing top and bottom sections). This form gives a nice, short, high-pitched cowbell-like sound, with the added convenience of being easy to tune. The range, including both the lower squashed-pipe bells and the upper semi-squashed fork-pipes, is two chromatic octaves.

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