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Music

The Enchanting Echoes of the Cristal Baschet, a Rare Organ Made of Glass Rods, Metal, and Wood

March 14, 2020

Andrew LaSane

Invented in 1952 by Bernard and François Baschet, the Cristal Baschet (also called a Crystal Organ) is a unique instrument that outputs an even more unique and artful sound. In the video above, multi-instrumentalist and film composer Marc Chouarain explains how it works and demonstrates techniques for turning finger rubs and drags into deep melodic echoes.

According to musician and rare instrument performer Thomas Bloch, models of the crystal organs range from 3.5 to 6 octaves and are made of 56 chromatically tuned glass rods. To play it, musicians rub the rods with wet fingertips. “The vibration of the glass is passed on to the heavy block of metal by a metal stem whose variable length determines the frequency,” Bloch explains. “Amplification is obtained by fiberglass cones fixed on wood and by a tall cut out metal part, in the shape of a flame. ‘Whiskers’ (moustaches), placed under the instrument, to the right, increase the sound power of high-pitched sounds in vibrating by sympathy.”

Ravi Shankar, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Daft Punk, Radiohead, Tom Waits, and Manu Dibango are among the musical acts who have used the Cristal Baschet, according to an official Baschet Sound Structures Association brochure. For more from Chouarain, check out his Facebook page. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 



Design Music

Barcodes Function as Techno Instrument That’s Played with Reused Scanners

February 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

Designed to recycle outdated electronics, multiple musical projects by Electronicos Fantasticos utilize a version of the barcode system found on every package on store shelves. When scanned, each pattern sends a signal to its audio component, emitting the corresponding sound wave. The black and white stripes produce a variety of rhythmic and tonal noises in two instrumental projects: the Barcoder, shown above, and Barcodress, a pattern-covered gown that’s played when the wearer moves in front of the scanner. Artist and musician Ei Wada (previously) leads the design group, which said in a statement that its goal is to create an entire orchestra of similar instruments. To watch more of the barcode projects in use, head to Instagram and YouTube.

 

 



Craft Design Music

A New Modular Paper Organ Allows Users to Build and Tune Their Own Functional Musical Instruments

September 4, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Wolfram Kampffmeyer (previously) loves to play with paper. The German artist uses the seemingly simple material to create three-dimensional shapes and figures, often designing products that users can assemble themselves. His newest project, PAPERorgan, is a fully functioning modular organ that is fueled by an inflated balloon. The instrument can run for approximately 40 seconds on one balloon’s-worth of air, and plays a range of notes depending on how each user chooses to tune and expand their organ. For paper organ aficionados, Kampffmeyer clarifies that he has spoken with fellow instrument designer Aliaksei Zholner (previously) to ensure that his design and commercial product are not derivative or competitive.

Kampffmeyer is currently building awareness for the product and will be funding production on Kickstarter. Follow along with the journey on Instagram and Facebook, and sign up for email updates on PAPERorgan’s website.

 

 

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Music

The Unsettling Timbre Produced by a 7-Foot-Wide Gong

July 12, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Paiste Gong Master Sven Meier demonstrates how to strike and a seven-foot-wide gong for maximum impact in a Youtube video by Wind Chimes Australia. After a few light taps to the middle of the instrument it bellows out with a dark and unsettling timbre that seems to resonate with doom. During the short demonstration Meier uses a few different techniques, extracting a range of sounds from the massive 80″ nickel silver gong. For more explorations into the sounds and vibrations produced by XXL gong check out these videos posted on Kottke.

 

 

 



Craft Design Music

Classic Compositions Performed on a Miniature Paper Piano by Aliaksei Zholner

May 22, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Aliaksei Zholner (previously) is known for making fully functioning models from cardboard and paper. His latest piece is a miniature 18-key piano that is tuned to play popular and classical pieces such as Fryderyk Chopin’s Polonez b-moll, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Für Elise, and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. The “strings” of the piano are created from paper strips connected to a tension mechanism similar to a guitar and struck by hammers made from paper and cardboard. The black cardboard body is branded with Zholner’s name above the keys in the style of popular piano makers such as Bösendorfer and Bechstein. A more detailed explanation of the construction (in Russian) is available on the Only Paper forum, and you can view more of his paper demonstrations on his Youtube channel.

 

 



Design Music

Wintergatan Declares the Conveyor Belt Complete on its Epic Marble Machine X

April 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A new video released by the ambitious Wintergatan band of folktronica musicians/inventors (previously) shows the latest developments in their ongoing Marble Machine project. The video above documents the successful completion of the Marble Conveyor Belt, which uses ratchets and pistons to move dozens of marbles around and through the Marble Machine. Martin Molin, who is a member of the band and the inventor of the Marble Machine, demonstrates how the movement of marbles is in time to—and can even create—beats and rhythms in Wintergatan’s music. We’ll leave the technical details to the professionals, but imagine a pinball machine meets an oversized music box.

In-depth notations on the band’s YouTube channel explain the specifications of the conveyor belt’s functionality. Wintergatan’s loyal following on YouTube and Patreon, which follows these intricacies at every turn, has helped support the complex and long-running invention process. Once the full Marble Machine X is complete, Wintergatan will embark on a world tour performing music with the finished musical machine.

You can find free scores as well as records and merch in the Wintergatan online store. Stay up to date with the Marble Machine’s progress on Instagram.

 

 



Design Music

Twenty Instruments Reconstructed to Play Through the Keys of a Vintage Piano

January 30, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

We’ve all tinkered around on a keyboard that, when a button is pushed or settings tweaked, gives us a chance to play the sound of a flute or drum. When the Ukrainian band Brunettes Shoot Blondes purchased a vintage, albeit broken, grand piano they decided to recreate this concept in analog form. The group secured twenty instruments to the inside of the piano and its sides so they could effectively play each as they pressed certain keys. The creation was developed as a way to perform their new song “Houston” live, rather than having an entire band as back-up like they might in the recording studio. Keys connect to drums, tambourines, cymbals, and castanets while additional mechanical devices play stringed instruments like the cello and two violins. You can view more of the band’s performances on Instagram and Youtube. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

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