Table of Contents

Experimental Musical Instruments was a magazine that was published by Bart Hopkin and ran from 1985 to 1999.

This page will compile a list of instruments and makers that were featured in the magazine.
Most of the information and descriptions has been pulled from Bart Hopkin's website 1)

Volume 1

#1 JUNE 1985

What This Is About: Our Purpose and Our Plans

by Bart Hopkin. 1/2 page; no photos.
A brief statement of the goals and purview of Experimental Musical Instruments by its the author and publisher.
[EMI, newsletter, sound sources]

Pierre-Jean Croset's Lyra

by Bart Hopkin. 1 page; 1 drawing
French designer and builder Pierre-Jean Croset's eighteen-string instrument is made of clear plastic and played entirely in harmonics. Conventional strings lack sufficiently exact tolerances for Croset’s just tuning because of irregularities in diameter and mass.
[open strings, nodes, just intonation, resonant materials, guitar pickups, intervals, just intonation]

Steel Cello and Bow Chimes

by Bart Hopkin. 2 pages; 2 drawings.
Designed by and built by Berlin-born Painter and sculptor Robert Rutman, the Single-String Steel Cello uses a suspended and flexible steel sheet that projects pitches ranging from low pitches to high, sounding harmonics and fundamental equally. The curved steel resonator of the Bow Chimes imparts an ethereal to the attached steel rods.
[thunder, bowed metal, Tibetan chants, U.S. Steel Cello Ensemble]

Recordings: Stephen Scott's New Music for Bowed Piano

Tools and Techniques: Tuning Devices

by Bart Hopkin. 4+ pages; 5 drawings.
Tuning Devices: gives a rundown of the different types of tuning aids available, how they are used, what they cost, and where to purchase them.
[pitch pipes, tuning forks, electronic audio tuners, strobe tuners, cycles per second, frequency, tonometers, overtones, beating.]

Organizations & Periodicals: A Reference guide

2 pages
A Reference Guide to 17 useful associations, foundations, journals, festivals, and societies relating to new instruments, their performance, history, and research.

the 1986 New Music America Festival

Books: Tony Pizzo's Book of Instrument Designs

1 page; 2 drawings.
Tony Pizzo of Vermont writes about his forthcoming book of instrument designs tentatively titled The Maker-Played Instrument. (Note: This book was later cancelled by the publisher and never published.) The designs are primarily adaptations of South American, African, and Asian string and percussion instruments.

New Grover Dictionary of Musical Instruments

British organologist Hugh Davies of London reports that the three volumes of The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments includes over 300 entries on 20th century instruments, mostly written by himself. [materials, koras, gopichands, stick zithers, bulbul tarangs.]

Voice Modifiers

by Bart Hopkin. 1/2 page.
A call for information on instruments that alter or enhance human vocal sounds, such as mirlitons, kazoos, zobos, face-masks, or Eskimo children¹s games using the oral cavities.]

A New Instrument at the Exploratorium– The Pentaphone

by Bart Hopkin. 1/2 page.
A brief description of Jonathan Glasier’s new instrument using five sets of tuned bars, made of paduk, bamboo, magnesium, aluminum, and travertine marble. Similar to Harry Partch’s instruments for its geometric beauty, it is tuned to a pentatonic scale, uses a symbolic system of shapes and colors to express pitch relationships, and is housed in a Pagoda-like structure in San Francisco’s Exploratorium science center.
[marimbas, exhibits, museums]

#2, AUGUST 1985


2 pages; 2 diagrams.
Dagen Julty describes his technique for amplifying low-volume sound in a high volume stage environment with his invention named the “Micro-Sensitive Sound Chamber.” References are made to a Lief Brush interview in Musicworks magazine and the work of Tom Nunn and Prent Rodgers in California. A diagram details how the sound string and turnbuckle are anchored to the sheet metal resonator of Robert Rutman’s Steel Cello. Jordan Hemphill describes a voice modifier in his discovery of a Chinese flute with rice paper mirliton.
[string tensioning, buzztones, microsonics]

Sharon Rowell's Clay Ocarinas

by Sharon Rowell. 4 pages; 12 drawings and diagrams.
An introduction by Bart Hopkin precedes Rowell’s article describing the principles and personal benefits of playing ceramic ocarinas, also known as vessel flutes. Rowell explains her construction methods. Her detailed article is a step-by-step demonstration of how she constructs and fits a fipple mouthpiece so that three chambers can be played at once. Noting that clay shrinks in drying and firing, it is difficult to have perfectly pitched instruments. She describes how the toneholes are sized and placed. Scales and tuning employ a pennywhistle fingering system. A sidebar lists other vessel flute makers.
[ceramics, chambers, fingering charts, globular flutes, recorders, edge tones]

The Long String Instrument

by Bart Hopkin. 2 pages; 2 photos, 1 table, 2 diagrams.
An explanation of the physics of longitudinal vibrations in strings, which are operative in the sound of Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument. A table gives formulas for determining the velocity of waves traveling through wires of various lengths and metals. The design of the soundboard and attached string, as well as the tuning mechanism are described and illustrated in the diagrams. Playing techniques, tuning, and timbre, and resulting music are also described.
[frequency, frequencies, velocities, iron, bronze, brass, installations, tunings, intervals, harmonies, overtones, fundamentals]

Ellen Fullman Writes About the Evolution of the Long String Instrument

by Ellen Fullman. 1 page.
Ms. Fullman’s personal account describes a chance discovery and the ensuing process of research and experimentation. Several years of development involved self-directed study in the science of musical acoustics. Engineers showed her how to amplify the sound without a contact microphone and electronics, to lower the frequency, and to increase sustain hrough the use of brass wire and a resonating box. David Weinstein taught her about just intonation and she eventually developed charts for seeing the mathematical relationships in her tunings.
[ancient tunings, chromatic, scales, installations]

More Vessel Flute Makers

Recordings: The Glass Orchestra '84

The Sound Wave Festival

1+ pages, 2 drawings.
Sound Wave Festival: a review of this outdoor sound festival held at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area near San Francisco, in May 1985. Bill and Mary Buchen led students in the creation of many types of instruments that were played. “The Wind Antenna,” an aeolian harp built by the Buchens, was one permanent installation. Also performing were Chris Brown, Tom Nunn, and William Wynant.
[community, Environmental Sculpture Project, wind harps, Fish Marimba, Gazamba, Wavicle, Crustacean]

Voice Modifiers Follow-up

1/4 page.
Members of Logos Foundation in Belgium described a metal voice resonator they built in an interview in Musicworks. Tom Nunn,s Crustacean, a balloon-mounted instrument with bowed metal rods, also responds to the voice.
[coil springs, mirlitons, vocals]

Books: Emil Richards' World of Percussion and Range Finder

1/2 page.
Two books by Emil Richards catalogue his varied and wonderful collection of fascinating percussion instruments and effects: Emil Richards “World of Percussion,” and Range Finder For the Percussion Seeker: A List of Six Hundred Percussion Instruments.
[sound tracks, drums]

Organizations and Periodicals: American Musical Instrument Society

1/2 page.
The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) is an “international organization founded in 1971 to promote the study of the history, design and use of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods.” The society also produces a scholarly journal and a smaller newsletter.
[Galpin Society]

Recent Articles Appearing in Other Periodicals

#3, OCTOBER 1985

This Time Around


1 & 1/2 pages.
A short note by Arthur H. Sanders from The Musical Museum offers information on the Reed Organ Society. Bill Colvig, in response to the June 1985 article on tuning devices, tells where he found WW II surplus oscilloscopes and kits. Bill and Mary Buchen give an update on recent activities.
[relative tuning, frequency-to-cents charts, Lou Harrison, Heathkit, flea markets, Marie Osmond, Skip La Plante, Bow Gamelan Ensemble, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not]

New Instruments Sought for Feature Film Score

The Puget Sound Wind Harp

by Bart Hopkin. 3 pages. 3 drawings.
Ron Konzak’s massive aeolian harp is described, with attention to exceptional requirements of its design, construction and tuning: fundamental tones are subsonic and the acoustic behaviors of flat stainless steel banding versus round strings are discussed. Contact for Konzak, his recording of the instrument, and his own written account are provided along with information about other wind harps.
[overtones, resonating chambers, torsional waves, flat ribbons, ribbon strings]

Glenn Branca and The Third Bridge

by Bart Hopkin. 1 1/2 pages. 1 diagram.
New York composer noted for his electric guitar symphonies, Glenn Branca’s harmonics guitar is designed to selectively produce the tones of the harmonic series, enabling the series to be used for scale material. The article details how the strings, the pickup and a central bridge are uniquely positioned to bring out the string harmonics. A sidebar compares conventional harmonics playing to Branca’s extended technique.
[nodes, octaves, guitar pickups, sliding bridges]

Meet Mothra

by Tom Nunn. 2 pages; 2 photos.
Nunn’s electroacoustic percussion board is made from birch plywood, steel rods, combs, springs, glass, and self-adhesive sidewalk safety surfaces, which are amplified with a contact microphone. This San Francisco composer and builder’s basic playing techniques on Mothra are striking, strumming, plucking, scraping, rubbing, and bowing. He describes the construction materials, its visual aesthetic, and possibilities for future exploration; his concepts and history in free improvisation, spontaneous interactive processes, teaching, and the Bay Area Improvisational Project.
[Sound Wave Festival, found objects, non-musicians, Earwarg, ]

Some Thoughts on Sound Art Exhibits

by Peter Williams Brown. 1 & 1/4 pages; 1 photo.
Brown shares some of his findings and solutions to the problems of presenting gallery-based sound art exhibits: continuous background noise levels, displaying hands-on installations, dividing space into small rooms, “tokenism,” audience interaction, volume control mechanisms, his “music box” approach, and their advantages and drawbacks.
[audio arts, participation, curating, sound sculptures, baffles, All Ears]

Organizations and Periodicals: The Guide of American Luthiers

3/4 page.
Information on The Guild of American Luthiers: journal, history, membership, convention and contact. Over 200 Data Sheets of their quarterly journal provide an utterly unique library of practical and esoteric information.
[associations, string instruments, guitars, Tacoma]

Books: Marlin Halverson's Sonic Art

1 page.
Marlin Halverson’s Sonic Art exhibition catalog was published for the Sonic Art Exhibition at the Art Gallery at California State College in San Bernardino, 1982. The usefulness and difficulty in acquiring catalogs of contemporary sound art exhibits is discussed. The Sonic Art exhibit is described.
[catalogues, audio arts, curating, sound sculptures]

Recordings: Chris Brown's Alternating Currents

Events: Totem and Nazim Ozel

1 page.
Review of performances by Totem, a group led by Richard Waters, inventor of the Waterphone, and Nazim Ozel, a classically trained Turkish master of the Ney flute, who performs on his Semi-Civilized Tree. These were part of a concert series at the Theater Artaud, sponsored by the Maitreya Institute of San Francisco.
[tree branches, water, Turkish music, natural materials]

Recent Articles Appearing in Other Periodicals

#4, DECEMBER 1985


3/4 page.
Additional information on making the rectangular soundboard used in Ellen Fulman’s Long String Instrument described in EMI Volume 1 #2.
[soundboards, resonators]

The Bi-Level Guitar

by David F. Marriott, Intro. by Bart Hopkin. 3 pages; 3 photos, 1 diagram.
New curved soundboard design for the acoustic guitar results in louder sound with more evenly distributed overtones. A Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) Spectral Analysis Program shows how the increased partials produce a sensation of brilliancy. Lab tests and modification of the guitar’s conventional structural properties to improve its articulation, timbre, sustain, and balance are described.
[classical guitars, envelopes, heat bending machines, struts, bracing, necks, fretboards, La Jolla Luthiers, Bi-Level Guitar]

Slit Drums and Boos

by Bart Hopkin. 2 pages, 2 drawings.
Wooden drums and their tuning problems: destructive communication between vibrations, e.g., “conflicting” notes, is addressed with various solutions provided. Jon Scoville and Reinhold Banek’s book, Sound Designs, is cited for other simple and practical variations of the slit drum. (Note: this article overstates the difficulties in tuning many-tongued tongue drums — take its pronouncements with a grain of salt.)
[log drums, wooden tongues, nail violins, tongue drums]

Holy Crustacean, Batman, That Beast Sings!

by Tom Nunn. 1 1/2 pages; 1 photo.
Nunn’s Crustacean is a stainless steel disk with curved bronze rods brazed to its surface, and is supported on three inflated balloons. It is also effective for resonating a player’s own voice. Nunn briefly describes his playing technique, its construction and use in performances with Chris Brown in San Francisco.
[bowed metal, bowed idiophones, sympathetic vibrations, The Crustacean]

Musical Instrument Classification Systems

by Bart Hopkin. 3 pages; 1 diagram.
A brief history and overview of a system devised by Curt Sachs and Erich M. von Hornbostel in 1914 to address the inconsistencies in criteria for classifying instruments. A full-page chart illustrates the Sachs-Hornbostel System which is divided into four basic categories. A sidebar mentions three other more recent systems, reference titles, and also the classical Chinese system.
[museum curators, collectors, taxonomies, theory, organology]

Recordings: The Car Horn Organ

by Bart Hopkin. 1 & 1/2 pages.
Listing of thirteen books in four categories: General, New Instruments, Musical Acoustics, and Tuning Systems.
[research, publications, libraries, dictionaries, education, encyclopedia, surveys, how-to, theory]

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#5, FEBRUARY 1985


1 & 1/4 pages
Charles R. Adams on Hugo Zemp’s musical instrument classification system (Volume I #4) based in the meaning of ancient Greek, Roman, and Indian words, with reference list of books by Ernest G. McClain. A counterpoint from Stephen Smith to Bart Hopkin’s article (Volume I #4) on the tuning problems of wooden slit drums.
[Sanskrit, tuning systems, tongues, tongue drums, organology, ethnomusicology, Pythagorean, Plato]

Wind, Breath and strings Round and Flat

Charles R. Adams 3 & 1/2 pages; 4 photos, 4 drawings.
Discussion of the Lesiba of southern Africa, an air-activated zither variously know as the gora, ugwala, or makwindi, and its culture. The article details and illustrates its construction: a stick, string, and quill; similar to bullroarers and aeolian harps, and its playing technique. A bibliography and discography is provided.
[John Blacking, Ron Konzak’s wind harp, feathers, ribbon-reed aerophones, mouth bows, mouth harps, jews-harps, somatophones]

Organizations and Periodicals: Interval Foundation, Conference of Intervallic Music

1 page.
Interval Foundation was founded by Jonathon Glasier in San Diego. Interval: Journal of Music Research and Development is a quarterly publication concerned with intonational systems and creative work in the field of microtonal music. (Interval Magazine has since ceased publication.)
[Harry Partch, microtonality, new instrument resources]

Disorderly Tumbling Forth

Bart Hopkin4 pages; 2 photos, 6 drawings.
Tuned idiophone designed and built by Bart Hopkin uses copper tube chimes. Versions include a keyboard action design similar to a harmonium, and a tabletop model. Tuning and materials are detailed in text and illustrations.
Disorderly Tumbling Forth

Tools and Techniques: Calculating Frequencies for Equal Tempered Scales

Bart Hopkin 1/2 page.
Introduction to Christopher Banta’s article described below.
[twelve-tone equal temperament, scales, mathematics, psycho-acoustics, pitch, logarithms, logarithmic, equations]

Scales and Their Mathematical Factors

Christopher Banta. 1 & 1/2 pages. 5 tables.
Systematic explanation on how to use mathematical equations for determining frequencies for equal tempered scales, applied to twelve and non-twelve tone scales.
[twelve-tone equal temperament, scales, mathematics, psycho-acoustics, pitch, logarithms] Wind, Breath, and Strings Round and Flat: the Lesiba

Recordings: The Musicworks 30 Tape

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#6, APRIL 1986

The Semi Civilized Tree: Designed and played by Nazim Ozel

Bart Hopkin. 4 and 1/2 pages; 3 photos.
The Semi-Civilized Tree is a stringed instrument using the natural form of a tree branch. Its construction, playing techniques with a performance review and its future possibilities are described. It uses over four hundred strings. Harp, cello, violin, guitar, mandolin, and banjo strings work best. Ozel uses a Frap Flat Response Audio Pickup transducer (contact mike) to amplify it for performance. Guitar and harp tuning pegs are used, and several tuning arrangements coexist: some are deliberate, some random. Ozel is a Turkish-born musician and visual artist who studied the Ney flute with master musician, Aka Gunduz.
[driftwood, trees, Semi-Civilized Tree]


2 pages; 1 photo.
Tom Baker’s photo of an 8-string guitar. Bob Flower provides tuning and construction tips.
[tone holes]

The Ceramic Whistles, Flutes, Ocarinas and Mirlitons of Susan Rawcliffe

Bart Hopkin. 2 pages; 6 photos, 3 drawings.
A photo spread with brief text descriptions of the acoustic and harmonic characteristics of these hand-built clay instruments. Many are based on pre-Columbian, Olmec, and Mayan designs. Some have multiple chambers and exotic shapes. The timbre of her single, double, and triple cylindrical fipple flutes is manipulated by varying the bore shape. Background and contact information about the builder herself is also included.
[mouthpieces, fish skin, kazoos, tone holes, Susan Rawcliffe]

The Melophone, the Harmoniphone, and the Melo-Harmoniphone: Names for Invented Instruments

Bart Hopkin. 1 page.
An essay on the aesthetics of naming unique musical instruments that takes into consideration how they are categorized and recognized, as well as how the nature of language plays its role in recognition and aesthetic thought.

Books: The Sound Art Catalog

1 page.
Review of the Sound/Art Exhibition catalog, with an essay by Don Goddard. The exhibit was curated by William Hellerman and sponsored by the Sound Art Foundation in 1983; held at The Sculpture Center and BACA/DCC Gallery in New York. Many of the artist are mainly visual artists. Contributors include Vito Acconci, Connie Beckley, Bill & Mary Buchen, Nicolas Collins, Sari Dienes & Pauline Oliveros, Richard Dunlap, Terry Fox, William Hellerman, Jim Hobart, Richard Lerman, Les Levine, Joe Lewis, Tom Marioni, Jim Pomeroy, Alan Scarritt, Carolee Schneemann, Bonnie Sherk, Keith Sonnier, Norman Tuck, Hannah Wilke, and Yom Gagatzi.

Kitchen Bands

1/2 page.
A brief observation about the number of bands that play old-time popular music with household utensils. Among the questions are whether this is an isolated happening or a uniquely American tradition. The article cites four bands; primarily made up of seniors and all having a good time: The Maple Manor Cuties; The Jolly Dozen Band; Shearer’s Kitchen Band; The Women’s Club of Hawthorne.
[folk music, nursing homes, percussion, kazoos, washboards]

Organizations and Periodicals: The Galpin Society

1/2 page.
Named after pioneer organologist and researcher Canon Francis W. Galpin, this British scholarly organization is devoted to the cultural and historical study of primarily European musical instruments. Founded in England, it has a longer history than its American counterpart, the American Musical Instrument Society, and many prominent musicologists have served as its officers. Contact, journal, and membership information is supplied.
[periodicals, scholarship]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

Volume 2

#1, JUNE 1986

1st Anniversary Editorial


1 1/2 pages; 2 drawings.
Ivor Darreg and Tony Pizzo respond to the article in issue #6, Volume 1, on creating interesting names for new instruments. Ward Hartenstein provides two drawings of his own bamboo instruments: the Tonquiro and the Devil Stick.
[Theremin, Megalyra, kazoo, Kosmolyra, Spoils of War, Harry Partch, Susan Rawcliffe, scrapers, strikers, shakers]

Stephen Smith’s Conduit Marimbas and Glass Marimbas

Bart Hopkin. 6 pages; 2 photos, 7 drawings and diagrams.
The design and construction of these microtonal instruments was inspired by Bill Colvig, Lou Harrison, Harry Partch, and Erv Wilson. Resonators of the glass marimba were made from plastic ABS pipe. The Conduit Marimba uses EMT, or electrical metal tubing, for sounding bars. The detailed explanation and illustrations show how to find nodes and how the sounding bars are mounted and suspended over tuned cylindrical resonators tubes, among other tuning and construction techniques. H.R. Bosanquet, the 19th-century designer who devised a keyboard for 53 tones per octave, provided a logical layout for the pitches. A sidebar briefly explains Smith’s interest in alternatives to twelve-tone equal temperament and his 31-tone equal temperament system. Smith also builds instruments on commission.
[diatonic scales, Tubalongs, tubulons, intonational systems, xylophones, esoteric tunings, just intonations]

Events: The New Instruments/ New Music Series

Teaching with Homemade Instruments: The Work of Robin Goodfellow

Bart Hopkin. 3 1/2 pages; 6 drawings.
This Oakland-based artist conducts classes for children and adults. Students are taken through many and varied music-making activities. She also works several genres of arts and crafts, and incorporates this into her music teachings. She has made a set of six illustrated books, each devoted to one category of instruments: drums, idiophones, strings, reeds, horns, and flutes. Each book is subtitled “Recognition, Construction, and Performance,” contains a description of its instrument type and its principles, plus several instruments that children can make and play, using readily available materials, and a complement of pieces and games. Some of the simple instruments her students make and play are soda straw oboes and clarinets. Companion books are in preparation, and they can be ordered directly from Goodfellow. Contact information is provided.
[pedagogy, Mandala Fluteworks, schools, workshops}

A Bibliography for Available-Material Instrument Making: With an Emphasis on Children’s books and Teaching Materials

Tony Pizzo. 2 pages.
A bibliographic overview of resources relating to homemade instruments for young students.
[pedagogy, schools, workshops]

Recordings: LARD and the Nihilist Spasm Band

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals


#2, AUGUST 1986

Daniel Schmidt’s American Gamelan Instruments

Bart Hopkin. 6 1/2 pages; 5 photos, 6 drawings.
Schmidt builds instruments rooted in but independent of the traditional Indonesian types.
[sounding bars, metallophones, Daniel Schmidt's American Gamelan Instruments]


2 pages.
William Holden, Bill Minor, Tom Baker, and Ivor Darreg offer their knowledge and thoughts on what scope EMI should have; a question raised in an editorial from an earlier issue.


The Megalyra Family of Instruments

Bart Hopkin. 1 page; 1 photo.
An introduction to Ivor Darreg’s article on the design and construction of his Megalyra family of string instruments. Two characteristics are noteworthy: they possess multiple tuning systems, and the visual guides in the form of fret-lines which make for ease of playing in any number intonational systems; both just and equal.
[slide guitars, steel guitars]

Megalyra, Drone, and Newel Post

Ivor Darreg. 4 pages. 1 photos, 1 drawing.
Darreg presents vital design and construction information for making this group of stringed instruments; to explore the advantages of flexible pitch offered by the Hawaiian or Steel Guitar The instruments are like giant four-sided guitar necks. Each side has a different tuning system combining equal or just intonation. The author traces the process of experimentation with materials: wood, strings, and piano wires. General rules of thumb regarding tuning, tension, and string length are given. The instruments use magnetic pickups for amplification. On each side, a visual pattern of fret-lines serves as a guide for the player. Figures are given for wire sizes and corresponding pitches, and for tuning pin sizes.
[bridges, microtonality, fretting, harmonics, sitar]

Organizations of Periodicals: The American Gamelan Institute

1 page.
The American Gamelan Institute was originally based in Oakland, California [relocated to Hanover, New Hampshire after publication of this article], serves an international networkfor people interested in gamelan music in Indonesa and abroad. The article gives general background and information on the organization’s journal, Balungan. It includes articles on scores, schools, building techniques, tuning systems, concerts, and interviews.
[Java, Bali, Sunda, Indonesia, gongs]

Six Un-Invented instruments

Tim Olsen. 2 pages; 6 drawings.
The author describes six fanciful instruments. Though whimsical they are not entirely impractical. The Sticcolo is a tiny transverse flute. The Selpreg or Selective Preference Guitar adapts a sansa made of saw blades to its body, and offers an alternative to sympathetic strings. The Great Pedal Clapichord and the String Carillon are extrapolations of a clavichord action. The name of the Teepeegurdie refers to the shape of this motorized hurdy-gurdy possessing 50 or more long-strings. The Stompano can be visualized as an inside-out zither.
[hammers, soundbox]

Instruments Without History

Bart Hopkin. 2 pages.
Instruments Without History: The Difficulty of Gaining Acceptance For Instruments Without Existing Repertoire, Established Technique or Trained Players. An easy-to-read speculation, supported with some anecdotal evidence, on why some new instruments are more acceptable to musicians and the public than others.
[techniques, traditions, patents.]

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#3, OCTOBER 1986

The Waterphone

Bart Hopkin. 4 pages. 1 drawing; 1 photo.
The Waterphone was invented and patented by Richard Waters. This article’s narrative describes how he applied his abilities as a sculptor to an idea inspired by the kalimba (also known as a sanza or mbira) and the Tibetan water drum. A family of instruments developed around this simple construction of bronze rods welded to steel bowls, with an upright metal tube in its center. While this article gives a detailed description of the instrument’s tuning and acoustic behavior, it is noted that Waters has gone to great lengths to prevent imitators from copying his ideas and methods. This instrument has been used widely in recordings, performances, and in movie and TV sound scores, and is sold commercially. Each instrument is individually tuned, but not to a standard chromatic or diatonic scale. Water movement inside it alters the resonating frequency of the body, resulting in its peculiar pitch bending and timbral shifts. Contact information is also provided.
[metallophones, whale songs, sound effects.]


1 page.
In reference to the EMI recordings, Ross Mohn comments on the difference between imagining a sound described verbally, versus hearing it.

Gourd Instruments Made and Played by Minnie Black

Bart Hopkin. 3 pages; 8 photos.
Nearing age 90, this Kentucky folk artist has made many harps, mandolins, guitars, lutes, drums, and hybrid instruments from dried gourds. This natural material has been used in many cultures since ancient time and grows in an immense variety of sizes and shapes. Photos and captions illustrate their construction and decoration, along with a picture of her group, the Gourd Band, in performance.
[The American Gourd Society]

Principles of Mallet Design: Approaches to Mallet Making for Various Types of Percussion Instruments

Rick Sanford. 3 pages; 4 photos; 2 drawings.
This article details homebuildable mallet designs for maximizing tone production instead of producing odd effects. It provides basic theory and practices and explains their purposes, as well as tools and sources, and mallet care.
[sticks, drums]

Recordings: Sonde en Concert

The Mallet Kalimba

Robert Rich. 1 1/2 pages. 2 diagrams.
Conceived and built by Darell Devore; the version described here was built by the author. A perfect beginner’s project, it can be built with inexpensive materials (under $10 at 1986 prices): aluminum or steel rod; wooden dowel rod; particle board or pressboard; styrofoam ice chest; adhesive foam rubber strips; 1″ wood screws. The making of ping pong ball mallets is described, along with its bright sound; sounding similar to an African mbira and Balinese metallophone or gamelan instrument.

Books: Prior’s Reference Handbook of Music Math

Glen A. Prior. 3/4 pages.
Review of a book on scale theory and related topics published in 1985 by Moustache Blue. Main topics in this concise, no-nonsense book: logarithms; nomenclature; derivation of the Pythagorean comma; beats per second; finding the guide tone; string lengths and stopping points; difference tones and summation tones; keyboard layout and interval names for 31-tone tuning; Greek modes.

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals


#4, DECEMBER 1986

Notices EMI Cassette Tape

Polychord 1 and Microtonal Steel Guitar Fretboards

Sieman Terpstra. 3 pages; 2 photos.
The author describes his system of fretboard markings for instruments inspired by Ivor Darreg’s Megalyra family. Based on the lap-steel guitar, Terpstra plays his instruments with a sliding metal bar rather than pressing against frets. Siemen’s fingerboard overlays serve as guides to placement of the bar as well as conceptual organizers of harmonic relationships, which can be perceived either musically or mathematically. He details how color sequences are related to tuning of the pitches and chords, measurements for string lengths; and various Hindu, Chinese, and Greek scales.
[just intonation, equal temperament]

The Glass Harmonica

Vera Meyer. 4 pages; 3 photos, 1 drawing.
Opens with a brief history of the 18th-century instrument redesigned by Benjamin Franklin, now being built by Gerhard Finkenbeiner. Healing powers were attributed to its haunting and ethereal sound. Its past and current construction and mechanics are detailed. It is a friction idiophone: many sizes of cup-shaped quartz glasses spin on a motorized treadle, sounded by rubbing the rims with fingers. Meyer also performs on the instrument and is a member of the organization Glass Music International. Available recordings are also listed.
[glass blowing, armonicas, musical glasses, carillons]

New Sounds From Old Sources: Musical Signal Processing with Microcomputers

David Courtney. 6 pages; 5 diagrams.
Introduced by Bart Hopkin, Courtney gives an overview of analog and digital audio fundamentals, a history of electronic sound modification, a simple hardware setup, some of the most musically useful DSP effects, synthesis and digital sampling.
[microprocessors, software, programs, samples, synthesizers]

Organizations and Periodicals: The Just Intonation Network

1 1/4 pages.
Formed by a network of Bay Area composers in 1984, this organization based in San Francisco, California is devoted to the spread and development of music based in just intonation. They publish a journal and hold lectures and discussions. Membership and contact information provided.
[associations, intervals, microtonality, musical scales and scale theory]

Some Introductory Words on Just Intonation

Bart Hopkin. 1 1/4 pages.
This article explains some of the audible and practical differences between music made with intonational systems other than twelve-tone equal temperament. While there is continuum of pitch between any two notes an octave apart, just intervals or pitch relationships use selected frequency ratios. After Harry Partch, a considerable increase in the number of people who explore tonal possibilities outside of 12-equal occurred, represented in a number of organizations that are listed in this text.
[associations, Ivor Darreg, microtonal, non-western tuning systems, societies, society]

Recordings: Parallel Galaxy

Emmet Chapman. 1 page.
This review of a record featuring Chapman on the Stick, also describes the fretted string instrument’s design and construction. It has no body because of electronic amplification. It is not plucked or bowed, but rather sounded by a playing technique guitarists call hammering-on, with eight fingers available for tapping as in a keyboard-like fingering. Well known musicians have brought the stick to recognition: Tony Levin; Peter Gabriel; Alphonso Johnson.
[guitars, jazz, Stanley Jordan, commercial enterprise, patents]

Lark In The Morning Search and Sell Services.

1/4 page.
Side bar announcing a way for builders of unusual instruments to sell through a retail outlet. Their services are described and contact information provided.
[commercial, consignment, enterprise, marketing, patents]

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#5, FEBRUARY 1987


1 page.
Anita T. Sullivan announces her book, The Seventh Dragon: The Riddle Of Equal Temperament, which was winner of the Western States Book Award. In reference to an article on destructive communication in Volume 1 #4, Michael Meadows comments on nail-violins. In reference to the Sticcolo described in the “Un-Invented Instruments” article in Volume 2, #2, Susan Rawcliffe notes that pre-Columbian Americans invented one 1,000 years ago


Keyboard Alternatives: Some Opening Thoughts and Background

Bart Hopkin. 4 pages; 1 diagram.
Discusses ergonomically designed layouts for the pitches of diatonic and chromatic keys and levers of the standard European keyboards, which evolved from organs, pianos, harpsichords. Graphics show several new spatial arrangements or patterns for pitch relationships as reflected in keyboard design: Limbaclav by Bob Phillips, modeled after the African kalimba (mbira) emphasizes interchangeable or modular designs. The 6-6 keyboard reduces the tonal bias to C major. Harry Partch’s Chromelodeans were harmoniums, as well as the Diamond Marimba and Quadrangulis Reversum; rebuilt to his preferred scales. Articles that address this topic in EMI and other publications are listed.
[clavinet, claviers, ebony, intervals, ivory, mechanisms, Ivor Darreg, Erv Wilson]

The Sohler Keyboard System

Mel Sohler. 1 1/2 pages. 1 photo; 1 diagram.
A logical and practical arrangement of keys with fewer fingering patterns to be learned for playing in different keys. Coupled with his notation system, Sohler’s keyboard design accelerates learning and eliminates confusion in sight reading. It incorporates symmetrical arrangements of key groups. It is an ideal alternative controller for electronic instruments.
[clavinet, claviers, ebony, ergonomics, intervals, ivory, organs, pianos, harpsichords, patterns]

Piano On the Half Shell: Comments by Ivor Darreg

Ivor Darreg. 1/2 page.
With a reprint of a 1965 Time Magazine article about a curved piano keyboard design proposed by Monique de la Bruchollerie, the author observes that musical developments make traditional pitch arrangements obsolete, yet practical innovations remain suppressed.
[clavinet, clavichords, ebony, ergonomics, intervals, ivory, organs, pianoforte, harpsichords, patterns]

Books: Deagan Catalogs Re-Printed in Percussive Notes

Vol. 24 #3/6: Deagan Catalogs. 1 1/2 pages. 2 drawings.
Percussive Arts Society occasionally publishes special issues of its journal Percussive Notes devoted to topics of scholarly and historical interest. This issue reprints five early catalogues from the 1920s by the J.C. Deagan Company, manufacturer of percussion instruments. Their finely detailed illustrations present thoughts on possible sound sources; reminders of a time when people spent less time with passive entertainment. Unusual and innovative items appearing in the catalogs include bells with resonators; marimbaphones with bars played with mallets, rosined gloves or bows; organ chimes made in metal but otherwise identical to traditional bamboo anklungs, a friction-rod instrument called aluminum harp, and tuned sets musical coins and rattles.
[marimbas, glockenspiels, metallophones, tubes, xylophones]

A Set of Aluminum Just-Intonation Tuning Forks

Warren Burt. 2 pages; 1 drawing.
Begins with the author’s background experiences leading to the making of a set of tuning forks tuned to a 19-tone per octave scale. He notes published sources for his research into ancient Greek modes, including theories of Ptolemy and Harry Partch. Construction details and playing techniques are provided. The appeal of community music-making is discussed, and how the ease of learning to play the tuning forks facilitates this. Their sound properties are described: clear timbres; sine waves with long decay time; Doppler and phase shift effects, deep bass tones.
[mallets, percussion, resonators]

The Fipple Pipe

Denny Genovese. 2 notation examples.
Begins with the author’s background experiences leading to the making of aluminum flutes that would play the scale of the harmonic series without finger holes. The absence of tone holes makes for distortion-free nodes. A family of instruments evolved using mouthpieces of the standard recorder style, which function differently from recorders in length and diameter. The playing techniques, maintenance, musical notation, and ensemble methods are briefly described. Ordering information for his book and tape provided.
[just intonation]

Organizations and Periodicals: Musical Saws and Jew's Harps

Vierundzwangzigsteljahrsschrift Der Internationalen Maultrommelvirtuosengenossenschaftand Sawing News of the World. 1 1/2 pages.
VIM and SNW are organizations and periodicals devoted to the Jew’s Harp and the musical saw. Their content and activities are described. SNW is a publication of the manufacturer, Mussehl and Westphal in Wisconsin. VIM from Iowa City is a scholarly journal with a humorous character. Information on festivals for saw enthusiasts are also listed.

New Instruments in France

Bart Hopkin. 1 1/2 pages.
Notes Gleaned From Recent Writings by Pierre Jean Croset. Croset is a French designer and builder of new musical instruments who wrote and article about his travel in the U.S. to study activities of his American counterparts. Cultural differences were examined. The broad categories of activity were sound sculpture, sound architecture, new instruments for conventional music, and instruments for new and avant garde forms. The article lists some of the new instrument designers in France. Croset’s remarks on the past, present, and future of musical exploration are also reprinted. Historical and practical concerns impacting communication, research, learning and innovation are discussed.

Great Instruments #9: The Medica Musica

Enoch Helm, aka Michael Gowan. 1 page; 2 drawings.
(Humor) Reprint of an article on little-known instruments from The Swallowtail Jig, a newsletter of the Columbine Hammer Dulcimer Society. The brief stories tell of stone bells played by Egyptian pharaohs and pipes with healing powers.

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#6, APRIL 1987


2 pages.
Further comments by Ivor Darreg describing his experiences and writings on developing curved keyboard layouts for piano and stringed instruments. He also discusses and the constraints of established practices, with reference to the Clutsam Keyboard discussed in his earlier short article (EMI Volume 2 #5) “Piano On the Half Shell”.
[ergonomics, intervals, Megalyra, patents]

The Musical-Acoustical Development of the Violin Octet

Carleen M. Hutchins. 4 pages; 1 photo; 1 graph.
The author describes the impetus, research, design, and construction of a set of violin-type instruments capable of carrying the timbre and tone of the violin family into seven other pitch ranges — one at approximately each half octave from the double bass to an octave above the violin. Hutchins is a central figure in the Catgut Acoustical Society and began this project in 1956. Among many people who helped are composer Henry Brant at Bennington College, and the violin maker Fred Dautrich. Issues of wood resonance and air resonance; f-holes; string and body length relative to fingering patterns are explained and also charted in the graph, along with descriptions of the instruments’ sound properties.
[cellos, double bass, consort, fiddles, soundboards, violas, Violin Octet ]

More Gourds

Bart Hopkin. 7 pages. 11 photos; 5 drawings.
Introduction to articles on gourd-resonated instruments written by Tony Pizzo, Matthew Finstrom, Lucinda Ellison, and Larry Sherman. This is a follow-up to the article on Minnie Black (Volume 2 #3). Contact information for each builder-writer is also provided.
[The American Gourd Society, resonators, natural materials]


Lucinda Ellison. 1 1/2 pages. 3 photos; 1 drawing.
The author makes finely crafted and decorated kalimbas, shakeres, drums, and bamboo flutes. Her main focus is the African thumb piano, also known as the kalimba or mbira. The gourd resonators have soundboards made of African woods: Mahogany, Padauk, or Ebony. A drawing diagrams the various and flexible tuning arrangements of the nickel plated keys, or tines.
[The American Gourd Society, resonators, natural materials]

Four Gourd Resonated Instruments

Tony Pizzo. 1 1/2 pages. 4 photos; 2 drawings.
The author specializes in the design of available-material world instruments. Design and construction of the Indian Tamboura, Double Strung Bow, Berimbau, and the Giant Bow inspired by Bill and Mary Buchen, is described. Drawings diagram the design of the tamboura bridge and the double string bow. The latter is traditionally mouth-resonated.
[The American Gourd Society, mouth bows, javari, resonators, natural materials]

Balafon, Vina & Mvet

Matthew Finstrom. 2 1/2 pages. 4 photos; 2 drawings.
The author is a performer and builder of traditional instruments inspired by Minnie Black’s folk instruments. The Mvet is type of stick zither or harp found in Cameroon. Design and construction of the Harp Vina is similar to the sitar. It has tuning pegs for five double strings and the gourd resonators are part of the original design in this ancient Asian Indian instrument.
[The American Gourd Society, natural materials]

The Oxford Gourd Ensemble: A Dispersed and Continuing Conceptual Piece with Occasional Site-Specific performances

Larry Sherman. 3 pages. 3 photos.
The author is a performer, educator, and builder interested in cognitive theory. The article describes the theoretical sources and conceptual basis for his performance group. The group rarely functions literally as a performance ensemble, but rather is a kind of social and conceptual extension of the ensemble concept.
[Minnie Black, The American Gourd Society, resonators, natural materials]

Book review: Leonardo Da Vinci As a Musician

Emanuel Winternitz. 1 1/2 pages.
Review of the first scholarly book on the musical side of Da Vinci’s work. It examines the times he lived in, accounts of his contemporaries, his personal notebooks, and sketches; some predate instruments and methods that were realized centuries later. These are full of ideas, theories on acoustics, performance, and instrument designs. Much of his attention was devoted to designing the mechanics of the Viola Organista, a bowed string keyboard instrument, apparently never realized.
[drawings, mechanisms, organology]

Recording review: The Way I See It and You’ve Got the Option

Ernie Altohff & Rainer Linz. 1/2 page.
Review of a cassette recording by Australian artists Ernie Althoff and Rainer Linz. The recording combines spoken text with a random music machine, an automatic, motorized percussion device that sounds kitchen utensils, and toy instruments, among other non-musical objects.


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

Volume 3

#1, JUNE 1987


4 pages. 3 photos, 1 drawing.
Hal Rammel cites a source for musical saws. Ivor Darreg responds to questions about reed instruments, continuous controllers for electronic instruments, raised in the EMI¹s last editorial. Francois Baschet addresses destructive communication, standing waves, and progressive waves for tuning instruments. Tom Reed talks about his 6-6 keyboard layout. Michael Meadows on glass harmonicas and fipple pipes. Sieman Terpstra offers a solution for the problem of symmetry with the 6-6 layout.
[variable capacitors, Ondes Martenot, Trautonium, ribbon controllers, variable resistors]

Hybrid Instruments Designed and Built by Ken Butler

Bart Hopkin. 3 pages; 5 photos.
Ken Butler builds fully playable electric guitars from found objects and commonly available materials. Their striking visual content is derived from the electric guitar as a potent cultural icon. However eccentric, their construction always emphasizes quality of musical and sculptural execution. A recent exhibition catalogue is available from the artist.
[Hybrid Visions, readymades, collage]

The Evolving Natural History of the Wall Harp

Sylvia and Robert Chapman. 1 page; 1 photo.
A short history and how-to about a one-string instrument made and played by sharecroppers in the Southern United States.
[folk instruments, blues, bottle neck slide, monochords]

Slide Whistles

Bart Hopkin 4 pages; 1 photo, 6 diagrams, 1 drawing.
Vigorous promotion of an underestimated variable pitch instrument with a husky or breathy tone, along with details of the many and various ways they can be made, tuned, and played.
[fipple instruments, air columns, calibrations, slides, childrens¹ instruments]

Kayenian Musical Instruments

H. Barnard 2 pages; 3 photos, 2 tables
A series of instruments using just-intonation described in the form of a story about an “ancient culture” in an imaginary country called the “Kayenian Imperium.” Some of the instruments are stringed, such as the streemo, pluiging, and abrool. Some electronic organ instruments are also described. The article opens with an explanation of how the keyboard layout facilitates its 19-tone just-tuning.
[frets, hybrid instruments]

Wind Suck, A Sound Sculpture

Yehuda Yannay and Stephen Pevnick. 1 and1/4 pages; 1 photo, 2 diagrams.
Description of the design and construction of an interactive musical instrument displayed at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1985. It uses flowing air resonance with electronic amplification, and electrical-mechanical wind propulsion systems (industrial vacuum cleaners). Diagrams detail the coupling of flexible plastic tubing to exhaust stacks and the blower. Microphones are also used in its construction and it lends itself to ensemble playing.
[drones, wind socks, sound installations]

Organizations and Periodicals: NAPBIRT

3/4 page.
The National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT) based in Normal, Illinois has an annual convention and newsletter, Technicom. Membership, convention and contact information provided.

Books & Recordings: Making Music

1 page.
Making Music: Contemporary Musical Instruments and Sound Crafted in California, review of the exhibit catalog and accompanying cassette. [Additional keywords: exhibitions, curating, galleries, installations]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#2, AUGUST 1987


1 page; 1 photo.
On the topic of continuous-strip pitch controllers, Phillips tells of a PAIA Electronic synthesizer kit with a built-in ribbon controller. Tony Pizzo announces two reference books, Susan Caust Farell¹s Dictionary of Contemporary American Musical Instruments, and Paul Berliner’s Soul of Mbira. Blake Mitchell argues for the efficacy of the 6-6 keyboard layout in terms of physical space that the keys occupy.
[marimbas, glissandi, Ondes Martenot, mallets]


The Sound Garden Exhibit In Tokyo

Leo Tadagawa. 3 pages; 9 photos.
Review of environmental sound sculptures and devices shown at the Striped Museum of Art in 1987 by fourteen artists. Their enjoyment harkens back to natural sounds of the Japanese Suikinkutsu (an unglazed pot buried in the ground into which water drips), or the traditional garden, or Huurin (a glass or iron bell). Some of the pieces take the form interactive sound installations, others straddle the differences of sculpture and musical instruments, some use electronics while others do not. A catalog is available.
[nature sounds, wind chimes, available materials, sound art, games]

Modular instrument Systems

Bob Phillips. 3 pages.
The composer, builder, and author puts forth the concept of modularity, a special approach to the physical placement of pitches on instruments. Modular design enables the layout of pitches to be flexible and facilitates playing techniques by making the selection and sequence of pitches easier. The article addresses practical issues of capability, accuracy, and cost. (With footnotes.)
[Harry Partch, ergonomics]

The Trumpet Marine

Michael Meadows 2 1/2 pages; 3 photos, 2 drawings.
Brief discussion of the history, playing techniques, and construction of this bowed monochord, also known as the tromba marina, trumscheit, and nun’s fiddle. A Renaissance instrument that uses a peculiar buzzing bridge. Made for playing harmonics, gave it a distinct brassy, trumpet-like timbre. Strings inside the body enable sympathetic vibrations to effect the sound.
[early instruments, nodes, bridges, tuning pegs]

‘Au Ni Mako

Bart Hopkin. 1 1/2 pages; 1 drawing.
One of the simplest traditional instruments, the “stamping tube” is a hollow tube that produces sound when struck against a surface. Usually made of bamboo or wood, these idiophones are found in Asia, the Pacific region, South America and the Caribbean, and Africa. The article describes construction, playing techniques, and history in the various regions and cultures that it used.
[ethnomusicology, world music, air columns, Trinidad, Solomon Islands, percussion, Carnival Music, drums]

Organizations and Periodicals: Society for Ethnomusicology

1/1/2 pages; 1 drawing.
The Society for Ethnomusicology, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one the most prominent societies in this field of scholarship. The author describes its history and problematics of the science. The SEM Newsletter is critiqued, with membership, convention and contact information provided.
[anthropology, archaeology, associations, musicology, research, scholarly journals, world music]

Recordings: A Discography for Experimental Instruments

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#3, OCTOBER 1987


1 1/2 pages; 2 photos.
Richard Waters offers two “Gravity adjusters” albums. A picture of Bob Phillips’ Twomey, a 70cc syringe that makes a fine slide whistle.


Bart Hopkin. 1/2 page; 1 drawing.
This request to the readership for help on topics regarding strange and rare instruments and interesting sounds is useful as jog the imagination. List of scintillating effects and topics: phase shifting, pitch wavering, volume swells from swung trumpets and spinning bells; The Pyrophone first invented by Georges Frederic Eugene Kastner in 1873, using flames to activate an air column; the Tang Koa bamboo chime operated by waterpower; leaf and grass oboes; Banda Mocha ensemble from Equador; underwater instruments.

Structures Sonores: Instruments of Bernard and Francois Baschet

Bart Hopkin. 6 1/2 pages; 1 photo, 11 drawings and diagrams.
An informative and extended look at the fertile explorations, and particular acoustic design innovations, of the Baschet brothers. They have been designing and building concert instruments, sound sculpture, children’s instruments, sound environments, and large-scale public works since the 1950s, receiving much recognition and many commissions in France. Their system of four construction elements applies to all instrument materials: vibrating elements; energizing elements; modulating devices; amplifying devices. Transmission and isolation of vibrations, sound radiators, and reverberant devices are discussed. Numerous diagrams and illustrations of the creative, imaginative, visually striking, and often humorous instruments make this article an excellent teaching tool.
[balloons, bridges, classroom, construction methods, conduction, dancers, glass rods, guitars, high impedance, low impedance, resonators, metal rods, percussion, steel bars, threaded rods, tuning weights]

The Slide French Horn: ‘Funnybone'

Ray L. Kraemer 2 pages; 3 photos.
Design, construction, and playing techniques of the Funnybone, combining a French horn bell with a trombone slide. To allow the bell to clear the slide an upward slant and bracing were necessary, which resulted in better projection than a conventional trombone. It has a sound that can be compared to a trumpet and flugelhorn. It fits well in modern jazz structures and is easy to play for a trombonist or lower brass player.
[blowing resistance, horns, tuning devices, slide positions, trumpets]

Instruments Built by Children at Santa Fe Research Center

Marcia Mikulak 5 1/2 pages; 9 photos.
Pedagogy, Santa Fe Research: Some of Their Work. The author describes the experiences and discoveries that led to The Santa Fe Research center, where children and adults pursue their interests through an exploratory approach. Her studies at The Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College led to an interest in alternative and interactive learning models. In the second half of the article she describes her teaching experience with children and the instruments, with photos, they made from available materials: violins, harps, guitar-like instruments, marimbas, and a steel drum. A sidebar reports on the surprising test results of Mikulak’s work with learning disabled children.
[education, learning disabilities, resonators, strings, Robert Ashley, Gardner Jencks, Pauline Oliveros]

Books and Recordings: Long String Installations

1 1/2 pages.1 drawings.
Review of a combination 3 LP set and full-sized book from Het Apollohuis, the now defunct center operated by Dutch sound artist Paul Panhuysen. The over-sized book documents the architectural aspects of the installations by Panhuysen and Johan Goehart with many large, clear, explicit, and attractive black and white photographs. Accompanying texts and diagrams describe just under forty installations. The introduction was written by Arnold Dreyblatt. A longer text by Panhuysen details the ideas and processes behind the work. This review details some aspects of the construction and performances.
[acoustics, Ellen Fullman, Eindhoven, Holland, Netherlands, nylon monofilament, environmental sound, space, public works]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#4 DECEMBER 1987


2 pages; 3 photos, 3 diagrams.
Tom Nunn in response Bob Phillips’ article on modular instrument design provides diagrams for his own electroacoustic Bug, which lends itself to various layouts due to its geometric shape. Ivor Darreg critiques the Kurzweil design philosophy and demo tape of sampled grand piano sounds. Illustrations of a slide whistle made out of a bicycle pump by Jacques Dudon and extended harmonic series Fipple Pipes by Denny Genovese.

The Pyrophone Explained

Michael Meadows. 1/2 page.
A description of the physics behind its sound, also described in William Bragg’s book “World of Sound.” The Pyrophone, first invented by Georges Frederic Eugene Kastner in 1873, activates an air column with a gas flame. This article, with additional materials, is among the articles posted in the Experimental Musical Instruments website at

Tata and His Kamakshi Veena

David Courtney. 4 pages; 3 photos, 3 drawings.
An article about the author’s discovery of an elderly East Indian musician, Tata, who plays a Kamakshi Veena, a self-designed and -built violin made of bamboo, a bowl resonator with animal skin membrane, horse hair, sticks, resin, colored paper, cardboard, and string. The article pays much attention to the diverse economic and cultural realities of India, and this specific region, as it does the builder’s highly inventive construction techniques.
[Asian, ethnomusicology, folk music, indigenous music, lutes, lyres, Hyderabad, bowed instruments]


Bart Hopkin 3 pages.
An introductory to Darrell DeVore’s following article on how this natural material lends itself so easily to the making of a great variety of instruments: flutes, necks for string instruments, lamella for mouth harps, drums, trumpets, single and double woodwind reeds, panpipes, bows, marimbas, rattles, wind and water chimes, aeolian pipes, guiros and scrapers, stamping tubes, and many others. Various species, the growth and cultivation, and physical properties of bamboo are described.
[Boo, Calungs, climate, Sansas, xylophones, thumb pianos, Chinese instruments, Japanese instruments, Asian instruments, Phyllostachys, Javanese instruments, didjeridoos, didjeridus, clarinets, oboes, violins, fiddles, Harry Partch, reed cane, zithers]

Bamboo Is Sound Magic

Darrell DeVore. 3 pages; 4 photos, 4 drawings.
The author describes his first-hand experience, the ancient universality of this material, and his own constructions. Among these are the bootoo, a stamped idiophone. Bootoo flutes, bootoo percussion, listening-tubes, singing-tubes, membranoflutes, and the Bambow spirit catcher are described with accompanying photos and drawings.
[aerophones, bird songs, Chinese instruments, earphones, Japanese instruments, Asian instruments, tone holes, reed cane]

The Triolin

Hal Rammel. 1/2 page; 2 drawings.
Brief description of the author’s instrument, a hybrid of the nail violin and the waterphone. A three-sided wooden resonator attached to a chair leg, with a circular arrangement of perpendicular rods, so that the pitches can be spun around as it is bowed, for unpredictable phrases and harmonies — automatistic musicking.
[random tunings]

Organizations & Periodicals: Glass Music International

1/2 page.
Glass Music International, an organization based in Loveland, Colorado promoting all forms of glass music. They publish a newsletter titled Glass Music World, and are planning a conference and festival. (Since this article was written, they have had success with several such festivals.) The newsletter covers technical topics, scores, membership profiles, and scholarly research. Contact information is provided.
[musicology, publications, research, scholarly journals]

Books: The EFNIR Catalog

2 pages.
Review of the catalog to the Exhibition/Festival for New Instrumental Resources I & II. It took place in May of 1979 and 1980 and was co-sponsored by the University of California at San Diego’s Center for Music Experiment, and Interval Foundation. A diverse group of 25 contributors are presented in its 40 pages. Among them Paul Dresher, David Dunn, Jonathon Glasier, Pauline Oliveros, and Arthur Frick.
[associations, professional, publications, research, scholarly journals, sound art exhibitions]

Tinkololin On the Head

Bart Hopkin. 1 page; 3 photos.
A pictorial of sound helmets and headbands created by Leo Tadagawa. Sound is communicated when the wearer walks. Aluminum tubes, beads, and a propeller device are attached to the headgear. These instruments appeared in the “Sound Garden Exhibit in Tokyo,” reviewed by Tadagawa in EMI Vol. III, #2.
[sound art exhibitions, clothing, wearable instruments]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#5, FEBRUARY 1988


2 pages; 3 photos.
Jonathon L. Haas proposes the world’s largest timpani made of bowls. Three photos of Pierre-Jean Croset’s new instruments made of plexi-glass: a water drum, an electroacoustic kalimba, and a carbon-fiber neck altuglas guitar.


Jacque Dudon’s Music of Water and Light

Tom Nunn. 6 photos; 3 drawings.
This French inventor has made instruments that use five principles of water: percussion, friction, modulation of resonant objects, water-forced air pressure, and modulation of resonant air volumes. Some of the instruments are named the Sprigoviel, Aquacelesta, Aquavina, Orque de Bac a Fluers, Tambour-Oiseau-Harmonique, the Aquatic Synthesizer, and the Arc a eau. Some instruments combine two or principles like the Flute a Mouettes, or “Seagull Flute.” Nunn briefly describes each with accompanying photos. The builder’s Photosonic Synthesizer, a light siren, is given two pages of description with pictures of the rotating disks whose computer-generated patterns determine pitch and timbre. Dudon is also president of an organization called l’Atelier d’Exploration Harmonique that researches experimental musical instruments near Marseilles.
[bamboo flutes, bellows, drawings, drips, environmental instruments, electroacoustic, hurdy-gurdy, electro-mechanics, hydraulics, graphics, optics, rain organs, solar cells, photoelectric cells, vessels, waterfalls, waterphone, waveforms]

Jim Schmidt's Custom Made Chromatic Flute

Jim Schmidt. 3 pages; 1 photo, 1 diagram.
The author describes how he conceived, acquired materials for, and constructed an orchestral flute for improved playability and tone. Some modifications involved the lip plate and resulting embouchure; others relate to the number and joint of the tube assembly. Improvements for fingering, as well as simplification and lightening of the mechanics are described. A diagram demonstrates the fingering system.
[woodwinds, saxophones, keywork, silver tubing, tone holes]

Travel Instruments: The Grand Piano In a Marching Band

Bart Hopkin. 3 pages.
Part one of a three-part article looking attempts to render standard instruments more transportable. This article is a broad historical overview; parts two and three each focus current designers.

Traveling With the Traviello

Ernest Nussbaum. 2 pages; 2 photos.
One of two instrument designers who have developed a portable “travel cello.” Issues concerning acoustical properties and functional design are described through several prototypes. Use of transducers, string length, various types of wood for the body, neck, and fingerboards are among the many problems that are solved.
[string tension, packing, shipping]

The Birth of the Packaxe

Francis Kosheleff. 3 pages, 3 photos, several diagrams
The third of a three-part article on designing transportable instruments. The solution for more portable guitars and other string instruments is the design of a folding neck, hinged at the body with an invisible locking mechanism. Issues and solutions concerning mounting and fingerboard action are addressed and illustrated.
[balalaika, tuning machines, packing, pegs, shipping, string tension]

Recordings: Recent Musicworks Tapes

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#6, APRIL 1988


Dennis James, Francois Baschet, and Leo Tadagawa provide quotes and notes about the Pyrophone. Bob Phillips answers Liz Was’ question about her sighting of a percussion aerophone, a Tablita with design and playing details. Minnie Black, gourd instrument inventor and performer, and founder of the Gourd Band is making several radio and television appearances.
[Burning Harmonica, clay drums, Chemical Harmonica, gas organ, American Gourd Society, Palm Pipes, Waterdrums]

Alternative tunings on Fretted Instruments–Refretting and Other Approaches

Bart Hopkin with Mark Rankin 3 pages; 2 photos, 1 drawing.
An overview on the design issues and techniques for removing old frets, how to substitute new ones in accordance with various alternative tuning systems. References and sources for fretting tables are provided. Movable frets are described, and interchangeable fretboards are among many other design possibilities offered in this article.
[equal temperaments, just intonation, fingering, fingerboards, fretting patterns, fretless guitars, sliding steel, string instruments, Enharmonic Guitar, microtonal scales, modifications, bridges, necks, experimental scales]

Refretting: Comments from Ivor Darreg

1 page; 1 photo.
Ivor Darreg (now deceased) was first among contemporary builders to begin refretting for microtonal scales. He comments on the practical fingering and tuning problems of just intonation guitars due to fret placement and spacing, notably with 22-tone and 34-tone equal temperaments.
[fingering, fingerboards, fretting patterns, fretless guitars, string instruments, Enharmonic Guitar, microtonal scales, bridges, necks, experimental scales]

Retrofitting for Non-Twelve Scales

Buzz Kimball. 1 photo; 4 drawings, 1 table.
Tools and materials, alternative equal temperaments, choosing an instrument for refretting, removing old frets and preparing for new ones, installation, leveling and adjusting, replacing and inlaying a fingerboard are the topics covered in this practical article. A fretting chart and an algorithm for calculating fret tables not given in the article are provided.
[equal temperaments, fingering, fingerboards, fretting patterns, fretless guitars, string instruments, microtonal scales, just intonation, bridges, necks, experimental scales]

The Overtone Series?

Bart Hopkin. 3 1/2 pages.
The Harmonic Series as a Special Case, and Some Thoughts About Instruments with Inharmonic Overtone Spectra. Based on the observation that many musical instruments do not naturally or automatically produce harmonic overtones, the article begins a general overview of overtone patterns and a discussion the nonharmonic patterns that exist in many instruments. The second part is reconsideration of how the ear responds to an irregular overtone series, and how these idiosyncratic relationships can function musically. A sidebar details the overtone series and its appearance in musical instruments.
[equal temperaments, fundamentals, harmony, idiophones, just intonation, tunings, tones, timbral, timbres, vibrations, frequency, frequencies, pitch, phasing, cancellation, partials, psychoacoustics, mathematics, theory]

The Gravichord

Bob Grawi. 4 pages; 5 photos, 2 drawings.
In discussing the authors instrument based on the western African kora, the article describes the author’s music and the circumstances that led to the instrument’s creation. Intermediary versions of the instrument were made of fiberglass and wood, and included metal kalimba keys on its bridge. Later it came to have 24 strings spanning a 3 1/2 octave range on a light, welded steel frame, amplified with a piezoelectric pickup. Many other features of its tuning and construction are detailed. Sounding like an electric harp; its kora-like divided string layout allows both hands to play its diatonic scales. Playing technique allows for conscious control of seemingly random clusters of notes; melodic and rhythmic results that are complex, intricate, and unexpected. The instrument was patented and is marketed by his company, White Bear Enterprises.
[lutes, West Africa, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, bridge designs]

Books and Recordings: Music For Homebuilt Instruments

1 page; 2 drawings.
A review of Percussion, String and Wind Instruments by Christopher Swartz published by Perimeter Records. The homebuilt orchestra features 30 instruments that were built by the author using available, commonplace materials, and are described with accompanying diagrams and photos useful for anyone interested in building their own versions of these percussion and guitar instruments.
[scrap metal, gongs, how-to, reference books]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

Volume 4

#1, JUNE 1988

Fourth Anniversary Editorial

Bart Hopkin. 1 3/4 pages; no photos.
A summary of past achievements, editorial perspective, and future prospects for EMI.


2 pages; no photos.
Daniel Levitan, Michael Meadows, and Ivor Darreg offer additional notes on contemporary practice on marimba and vibraphone tuning, the overtone series and the validity of inharmonic instruments. Rick Sanford responds to Jonathan Hass’ request for information on experimental timpani.
[harmonics, xylophones, free bars, mallets, partials, chords, membranophones]

A Harmonic ensemble

Michael Meadows. 2 1/2 pages; 1photo, 1 diagram, 1 table.

Meadows wrote about his trumpet marine in EMI, Volume 3 #2, August. 1987, which is one of several instruments designed to articulate the pitches of the harmonic series. In the current article he describes the remainder of the instruments in the group: they consist of aerophones, Didjeridoos, notched flutes, fipple pipes, reed pipes, and stringed instruments. He also describes some principles of timbre and harmonics.
[partials, fundamentals, summation tones, difference tones, nodes, antinodes, edge-tones]

Music For Homemade Instruments

Skip La Plante. 6 pages; 2 photos, 3 drawings.
Music For Homemade Instruments is a composers’ collective based in New York City that invents, builds, composes for and performs on instruments — mostly idiophones — which were made from the found objects and trash of the city. Most of them copy world instruments. Styrofoam boxes are used extensively as resonators. “Waterfall” was a large installation that used water falling on objects to create its sound, and was shown at P.S. 1 in New York (1977), and the Capital Children’s Museum, Washington D.C. (1983).
[Hemholtz resonator, metallophones, gongs, gamelan, pipes, PVC, musical saw, juice jars, cardboard tubes, cans, EMT, conduit, flutes, tubes]

More Instruments by the Baschet Brothers

Bart Hopkin and Francois Baschet. 4 pages; 6photos.
More Baschet Sounds: A Mostly Pictorial Presentation of Architectural works, Museum Installations and Educational Instruments Built by the Baschet Brothers. This photo spread is a complement to the October 1987 EMI article [VOL. 3, #3] that focused on the mechanical principles and specific acoustic systems employed in the vast array of Bernard and Francois Baschet’s work. They have been designing and building concert instruments, sound sculpture, children’s instruments, sound environments, and large-scale public works since the 1950s. Their system applies four basic construction elements to all instrument materials: vibrating elements; energizing elements; modulating devices; amplifying devices. Their work addresses the design issues concerning the transmission and isolation of vibrations of steel and glass rods, sheet metal sound radiators and reverberant devices. Along with musical playgrounds, a musical water fountain and clock tower are pictured. [Additional keywords: balloons bridges classroom construction methods conduction creativity dancers efficiency, energy loss, France, functional, guitars, imagination, low impedance resonators, nodes, percussion instruments, bars, threaded, tuning weights, scales, surface area]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#2, AUGUST 1988

Instruments of Shell, Tusk, Bone & Horn

Bart Hopkin. 6 pages, 5 drawings, 8 photos.
An introductory overview of animal-derived materials in instrument making, both fresh and fossil. Information on sources and costs, cultural and historical background, physical and acoustic properties of these materials are covered. The types described include ivory tusks of elephant, mastodon, warthog, walrus, and hippopotamus. Whaletooth, narwhal tusks, conch shells, and turtle shells are also listed. The types of instruments these materials are used for include flutes, rattles, fiddles, marimbas, harps, lyres, resonators, soundboards, and trumpets.


Ivor Darreg gives several bits of general news and advice on tuning, frettings, unorthodox microtonal scales, with specifics on tuning steel conduit (or EMT) tubing marimbas.
[equal temperaments, octaves, metallophones]

Bone Music by the Buchens & Bob Natalini

Bart Hopkin 2 pages; 6 photos.
This photo spread shows Bob Natalini’s untitled cow jaw bone object, which incorporates electronics. Four instruments made by Bill and Mary Buchen are shown. These were made from skulls, cowhorns, and antlers, and are named: Flying Beaver Rattles, Skullimba, Treble Elk Harp, and the Rosehorn Marimba. They performed with these in the Boneworks Ensemble from 1976 to 1981.

A Cowhorn Fipple Flute

John Jordan, 1 1/2 pages; 1 photo.
This article describes how the author solved the problem of making a reed instrument that sounds louder, and has a much wider pitch range than the average fipple flute. His version is 36 decibels louder than a soprano recorder. Playing technique, fingering, and construction are explained.

Maurice Ravel and the Lutheal

Hugh Davies. 3 pages; 1 diagram.
In the early half of the 20th century very few composers considered using new instruments in their compositions. Among the few who did was Maurice Ravel, who included the sarrusaphone, Ondes Martenot, and the lutheal. The lutheal is a modified piano developed around 1918 by Georges Cloeteus in Brussels or Paris. It uses jacks for different nodes on the strings, and has additional registrations, or stops, for its harpsichord, harp-lute, and cimbalon timbres. Since only one restored lutheal remains in existence, this very detailed article on its mechanical design also describes the detective work involved in tracing patents in order to learn about the inventor and his instrument. The author himself is one of the few British musicians who started to build new electroacoustic instruments in the late 1960s, and so the article opens with interesting general insights on the closer links between music and the visual arts, and the field instrument invention. Davies has published many pioneering studies on 20th century electronic instruments, and is a main contributor to the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.
[frames, dampers]

Organizations & Periodicals: The Vestal Press

Bart Hopkin. 1/2 page.
The Vestal Press, a publishing house founded by Harvey Roehl, distributes unusual and hard-to-find materials on early Americana. Its catalog documents the era of late-19th century and early-20th mechanically reproduced music, namely player pianos, but also reed organs, calliopes, and hybrid instruments. They also print a newsletter, the Vestal House Organ, on in-house events and projects. Contact address supplied.

Bentwood Chalumeau- A Glissando Clarinet

Bart Hopkin. 3 pages; 2 photos, 2 diagrams.
The author describes the design and construction of a continuous-pitch, valve-less clarinet, named after its 18th century ancestor. In place of toneholes, a slit runs the length of a PVC tube. A bent tongue of springy hardwood is used to cover this open slit to varying degrees. Contact address supplied.
[Leonardo Da Vinci, reeds, weather-stripping]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#3, OCTOBER 1988

The Art of Noises by Luigi Russolo, Translation and Introduction by Barclay Brown

Tony Pizzo. 6 pages; 1 photo, 1 drawing.
An extended book review of a new English translation of the writings by this early-20th-century Italian Futurist and instrument inventor. Pendragon Press has reprinted Russolo’s first manifesto (written in 1913). Brown’s introduction assembles a great deal of hard-to-find information, covering both its technical and historical aspects. Although his instruments were acoustic, Russolo’s visionary ideas and instruments have been credited with being seminal in the development of electronic music. To realize his conception of a new music – timbres and rhythms that more closely resembled the actual sounds of nature, language, and modern life – Russolo invented, built and performed with a set of instruments he called intonarumori, or noise intoners. No published diagrams or plans of these instruments have survived, and very few recordings exist. Brown’s research reveals that they used mechanical means to produce sound through cranks, levers, wires, and diaphragms enclosed in large boxes. Twelve different types of intonarumori were made. Pizzo also describes them: howlers (ululatori); roarers (rombatori); cracklers (crepitatori); rubbers (stropicciatori); hummers (ronzatore); gurglers (gorgoliatori); hissers; whistlers (sibilatore); bursters (scoppiatore); croakers; rustlers; and, noise harmonium.
[acoustic environment, enharmonic bow, enharmonic piano, R. Murray Schafer, Harry Partch, Dada, Marinetti, musique concrete, industrial music, film, Foley sound effects, surrealism, Spike Jones, Pierre Schaefer]


2 pages; 1 drawing.
Susan Rawcliffe warns of health risks in casual use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and announces new events relating to her work in ceramic wind instruments. Richard Waters discusses tuning and the difficulty of separating partials of a vibrating body from the resonator; his visual approach to non-traditional and enharmonic tunings and; how water acts to bend tones in his Waterphone. Tim Olsen offers some thoughts on Bart Hopkin’s Bentwood Chalumeau. Pearl Bellinger names additional sources for biblical instruments made from natural materials. A sidebar shows the world’s tiniest slide whistle made by Jeff Kassel from a medical instrument – a 13-gauge trocar.
[conch shells, animal horns, trumpets, tuning systems]

Hans Reichel's Dachsophone

Hans Reichel. 3 pages; 4 photos, 1 drawing.
The author is an avant garde German guitarist and instrument builder. This instrument uses a flat wood stick clamped to an edge of a table, played with a bow. A curved block of wood fitted with guitar frets – named a “dax” – serves as a “mobile” fretboard. A sound-box fitted with contact microphone amplifies its sounds, which span a wide frequency range. The sticks are made of ebony, spruce, Brazil pine, mahogany, cedar, plywood, maple, rosewood, sandal wood, persimmon-wood, and African wenge. Each is shaped differently and has its own “personality.” Reichel also describes their strange, humorous, fierce and/or tender sounds.
[daxophones, improvisations, animal voices]

Sonorous Metals For the Experimenter

Rick Sanford. 3pages.
A helpful introduction to the types, properties, prices, risks, machining tools, and sources for various types of metal. Buying metal requires knowledge of a few general machine terms. Other topics: how to visually distinguish different metals at suppliers (including scrap and salvage yards); how to identify various alloys; cutting, drilling, and filing techniques; hand and eye protection.
[wrought iron, brass, copper, aluminum, steel, bronze, corrosion, thunder sheets]

Bass Marimbas In Just Intonation

Denny Genovese. 2 1/2 pages. 2 photos; 1 table.
Genovese describes his redwood instruments, which were inspired by the one built by Harry Partch. Collaborating with artist Tim Treadwell, they designed and tuned them according to Partch’s microtonal formula (provided in the article). The article also describes the exciting physical sensation of its low pitches, the tuning process, construction details, the resonators, and the types of mallets they made.
[scales, harmonic series, vibrating bars, xylophones]

Addendum To Denny Genovese’s Bass Marimbas Article

Tim Treadwell. 1/2 page.
The author provides additional information about his collaboration with Genovese; the equal importance or synthesis of painting, sculptor and sound to his work.

Organizations & Periodicals: Nature Sounds

1 page.
Report on the activities, journals, and newsletters of two organizations devoted to the world of natural sound. Nature Sounds Society is based in Oakland, California. It is concerned with the appreciation and preservation of the sounds of nature, especially animal sounds. Discounting ornithology groups with an interest in birdsongs, it is the only membership organization of its sort in North America. Bioacoustics: The International Journal of Animal Sound and Its Recording is a new academic periodical from Hampshire, England devoted to the scientific study of animal communications and wildlife recordings, and related topics. Subscription, memberships, and contact information provided.
[archives, acoustic ecology, conservation, environments, sound libraries, World Soundscape Project]

Recent Articles in Other Periodicals


#4, DECEMBER 1988

Sound From Stretched Membranes

Bart Hopkin. 2 1/2 pages; 4 drawings.
Opening thoughts for the feature articles contained in this issue on membranophones, primarily devoted to drums and drumheads, but also including various sound modifiers, transmitters and radiators, vibrational insulators, air reservoirs and blowers, labial reeds, animal skins on string instruments and harps, fiddles, harps, and lutes from South America, Africa and Asia, as well as the intonarumori of Luigi Russolo.


Debbie Suran provides follow-up information on toxic hazards of organic and inorganic materials, from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes and wood, to metals, turpentine, and plastics.

A Children’s Instruments Workshop

Bob Philips. 4 pages; 16 drawings, 1 photo.
These sketches and pan-ethnic instrument designs by Philips provide information on simple projects and available materials. The instruments span four categories: aerophones; idiophones, chordophones, and membranophones. They include a vessel flute, funnel trumpet, pan pipes, fipple flute, buzzers and hummers, kalimba, conduit tubalong, nail violin, music bow, cigar box lute, bowed tube zither, cigar box lyre, shipping tube bongos, mirliton, conga, and spinning drum.
[classrooms, schools]

Congas According to Carraway

Bart Hopkin. 2 1/2 pages; 1 photo, 1 drawing.
Written in consultation with Jim Carraway, a builder of congas for 20 years, this article details the construction of this well-known Afro-Cuban drum with a brief introductory history.
[skins, rawhide, cowhide, shells, exotic woods

The Tabla Puddi

David Courtney. 4 pages; 2 photos, 7 drawings.
Describes the manufacture of the puddi (drumhead) of the Indian tabla, which is made with multiple layers of skin and an extraordinary technique for adding mass to the center of the membrane, without inhibiting its flexibility. The basic structure, names and function of its parts, and construction are described with the aim of giving enough information to make a tabla puddi.
[drums, skins, charts, hides, shai, danyan, banyan]

Books & Recordings: Spike Jones

2 pages.
A short history and biography of Spike Jones, the popular band leader who collected and used duck calls, sirens, and various junk noise makers in his hilarious music. Most of the sounds had irreverent, non-musical associations. His stardom lasted from the 1940s to the early 60s. The article includes a short review of “Spike Jones and His City Slickers,” by Jordan R. Young, published by Disharmony Books, 1982. The book and also a review of the three record set entitled, “Spike Jones: The Craziest Show on Earth.”
[drummers, novelty groups, Vaudeville, slapstick, sound effects]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#5, FEBRUARY 1989

Shape and Form, Contemporary Strings, Part I: Fred Carlson, Francis Kosheleff, Susan Norris, and Clif Wayland

Bart Hopkin. 8 pages; 9 photos, 6 drawings.
First of a two-part photo and text presentation on the aesthetics of new and traditional string instrument design, highlighting the balance of beauty and function, particularly exotic resonator shapes, multiple necks and bridges, fretboards, saddles, decorative inlays and carving. Pictures and background of a few lesser-known early instruments are included. The brief texts and photos describe a variety of bodies for guitars, dulcimers, lyres, and violins. Shown are hybrid instruments by Susan Norris and Fred Carlson; fiddles, rebec and dulcimers by Clif Wayland; bandura, harp guitar and pyramidulcimer by Francis Kosheleff. Part II appears in Volume 4, #6.


5 pages; 3 drawings.
Charles R. Adams provides additional book titles and comments in response to Tony Pizzo’s review of Luigi Russolo’s “Art of Noises.” Ivor Darreg writes about new scales and tuning devices. Ezra Sims shows his plan to build a 72-notes per octave MIDI keyboard for synthesizer under computer control. Hal Rammel provides additional literary sources on Spike Jones. The editor reprints a paragraph from Rammel’s article on Jones’ junk yard music in the book “Free Spirits: Annals of the Insurgent Imagination.” Peter Fischer offers his experiences on teaching instrument making for children. He details the materials, tools and steps for making a one-string can lute and simple drums, with references to and a diagram of the tuning mechanism of an Ethiopian Krar.
[pedagogy, electric organ, futurism, Jacques Attali, children’s instruments, Ernst Bloch, Wassily Kandinsky, rawhide skins]

More On Fretted Instrument Liberation

Bart Hopkin. 1/2 page; 1 photo.
This article briefly describes a movable fret system developed by Walter J. Vogt. It has 110 curved fretlets that slide in inserts set into the neck. Their placement makes each string independently tunable, providing new and more precise pitch relationships.
[fretboards, fine tuning]

Eggshell Instruments

Bart Hopkin. 3 pages; 2 photos, 1 drawing.
Continuing the series on instruments made from natural materials, Hopkin describes eggshell aerophones: sources and tips on working with chicken, goose, Emu, and ostrich eggs. The article details Robin Goodfellow’s diatonic and chromatic octave sets of single-note egg ocarinas, which are suited to hocketing: the communal music making technique. Goodfellow’s drawing is of a Chinese hsun, hsuan or xun: an egg-shaped vessel flute made of fired clay.
[finger holes, fipple pipes, globular flutes]

The Sound Spectrum: Pitch Names, Frequencies, and Wavelengths

Bart Hopkin. 4 pages.
A frequency chart or graph with staff notation, pitch names, pitch standards, frequencies, wavelengths, and the pitch ranges of musical instruments among other common sounds. The accompanying text briefly explains the differences between just and tempered tunings, how to calculate frequencies and wavelengths for pitches not given in the chart. The text also explains the cents system for measuring relative rather tan absolute pitch, the acoustic effects of fundamental frequencies and spectra in musical sounds, and applications for wavelength data. NOTE: This chart had some flaws in it. Improved versions of the chart appears on the EMI Wall Chart, available from the EMI Catalog. Less detailed versions appear in two book, also available from the EMI Catalog: Musical Instrument Design, and Air Columns and Toneholes.
[waveforms, Hemholtz system, tube lengths, microtones, microtonal, octaves, enharmonic, 12-tone equal temperament, scales, spectral, speed of sound]

Books: Echo

1 1/2 pages.
Review of “Echo: Images of Sound” a book edited by sound artist Paul Panhuysen, founder of the Het Apollohuis in Eindoven, The Netherlands. Published in 1987, the book assembles the writing and photos of twenty artists in the diverse field of contemporary sonic arts in Europe and the U.S., some of whom participated in the Echo Festival I held in 1984-85. This review highlights the work and essays of Hans-Karsten Raecke, Jon Rose, Richard Lerman, Horst Rickels, Rik van Iersel, Joop van Braken, Godfried-Willem Raes, and Hugh Davies.
[festivals, catalogs, catalogues, visual arts]


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

#6, APRIL 1989

Sounds In Clay

Ward Hartenstein. 3 1/2 pages; 4 photos.
The author offers helpful information about the composition, firing, and physical limitations of clay in its use for making instruments. General tips on making and tuning clay bells are provided, and the photos illustrate his fountain chimes, shaker chimes, and the cym-bell tree. These use bell shaped bowls of gradating sizes. His clay marimbas use carefully tuned stoneware bars mounted over a large ceramic vase or resonating chamber. The article also provides details on accurate overtone tuning of the ceramic free bars.
[ceramic idiophones, xylophones, glocken-speils, vibraphones, lithophones]


3 pages.
Richard Waters, inventor of the waterphone, seeks sound designers who can build a small device for boats at sea that will scare whales away from the boat’s projected path to prevent collisions. Hal Rammel observes that the wide ranging interest in instrument making touches on a deeper desire to transform the world, and recommends two books by Christopher Small: “Music-Society-Education” and “Music of the Common tongue: Survival and Celebration in Afro-American Music.” Bart Hopkin replies to questions on the inclusion of 12-tone equal temperament versus other systems in the frequency chart in Volume 4, issue #5. He also answers questions about doped cloth for drumheads and coconut shells, while relaying information from Tony Pizzo.
[imagination, nature sounds]

The Nineteen-Tone Instruments of W.A. (Jim) Piehl and Tillman Schafer

John Chalmers. 3 pages. 2 photos; 4 diagrams.
An article about the microtonal instruments of two San Francisco musician-builders inspired by Joseph Yasser’s book, “A Theory of Evolving Tonality.” The design, construction and keyboard pitch patterns of their pneumatic 19-tone pipe organ is detailed. Diagrams illustrate the extra nomenclature, positions and colors of the keys. At the time of this article’s writing the instruments were being restored by Jonathon Glasier, Ivor Darreg, Erv Wilson, Buzz Kimball, Kraig Grady, and Scott Hackerman. A sidebar describes the correspondences between 12 and 19-tone equal temperament. Piehl’s ten-string Hawiian and electric brake drum guitars are briefly described, as are Schafer’s 19 and 31-tone guitars. Schafer also made an electronically actuated microtonal metallophone that used an electric typewriter keyboard and solenoids to propel the strikers.
[fingerings, diatonic notes, timbral stops, pedalboards, accidentals, flats and sharps]

Shape And Form, Contemporary Strings, Part II: William Eaton, Steve Klein, and Linda Manzer

Bart Hopkin and Linda Manzer. 7 pages; 12 photos.
Second of a two-part photo presentation on the aesthetics of new and traditional string instrument design, highlighting the balance of beauty and function, particularly exotic resonator shapes, multiple necks and bridges, fretboards, saddles, decorative inlays and carving. Linda Manzer’s text describes a multi-neck Pikasso guitar she built for Pat Metheny, and others for Bruce Cockburn and Angel Parra. Her guitars use Fishman or piezo pickups, and the sitar-style buzzing bridge on her eight-string drone guitar sounds like a koto. A variety of bride designs, an asymmetric bridge and foreshortened upper and lower bouts typify the Klein steel string guitars. Eaton’s designs have an affinity with ancient instruments, mythological motifs, as well as forms and shapes from the natural world.
[Jean-Claude Larrivee, harp guitars]

The Sink: A Found Object Idiophone

Rick Sanford. 1/2 page.
The author and composer describes the acoustic properties and uses for a stainless steel hospital or restaurant sink. It originally featured in Sanford’s percussion compositions, which he describes, and he also describes the various sounds achieved by playing it with mallets, sticks, or bows.
[ready-made instruments, scrap metal, junkyard percussion]

Books: Three Encyclopedic Sources

2 pages; 1 drawing.
A review of books that present the world of musical instruments in a comprehensive fashion. The three featured here were more or less up to date and in print at the time of this review, global in scope, presented in convenient formats, and serve as practical desktop references. They are: “Musical Instruments of the World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia,” published by Facts On File; “Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary” by Sibyl Marcuse, published by W.W. Norton & Co.; “The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments” edited by Stanley Sadie, published by Grove’s Dictionaries of Music, Inc. (At the time of this writing, the Grove’s Dictionary and “Musical Instruments of the World” have remained in print, while the Marcuse dictionary has gone out of print.)

Recordings: Four Short Reports


Recent Articles in Other Periodicals

Volume 5







Volume 6







Volume 7







Volume 8





Volume 9





Volume 10





Volume 11





Volume 12





Volume 13





Volume 14






Cornelius Cardew is strangely never mentioned in the listings of EMI

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