Sunday, October 7, 2007

Glass Armonica

The glass harmonica, also known as glass armonica, '"hydrocrystalophone" or simply armonica (derived from "armonia", the Italian word for harmony) is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction, making it both a crystallophone and a friction idiophone). Despite being played with wet fingers, the sound is produced by vibration of the solid glass, so that the glass harmonica is not a hydraulophone even if played completely submerged in water.

Benjamin Franklin invented a radically new arrangement of the glasses in 1761 after seeing water-filled wine glasses played by William Deleval. Franklin, who called his invention the "armonica" after the Italian word for harmony, worked with London glassblower Charles James to build one, and it had its world premiere in early 1762, played by Marianne Davies.

In Franklin's version, 37 bowls were mounted horizontally nested on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot-operated treadle. The sound was produced by touching the rims of the bowls with moistened fingers. Rims were painted different colors according to the pitch of the note. As were dark blue, Bs purple, Cs red, Ds orange, Es yellow, Fs green, Gs blue, and accidentals white. With the Franklin design it is possible to play ten glasses simultaneously if desired, a technique that is very difficult if not impossible to execute using upright goblets. Franklin also advocated the use of a small amount of powdered chalk on the fingers which helped produce a clear tone in the same way rosin is applied to the bows of string instruments.

Mozart, Beethoven, Donizetti, Richard Strauss, and Camille Saint-Saëns all composed works for the glass harmonica. European monarchs indulged in it, and even Marie Antoinette had taken lessons on it as a child from Marianne Davies. One of the best known pieces is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the ballet The Nutcracker; Tchaikovsky's first draft called for glass harmonica, but he changed it to the newly-invented celesta before the work's premiere performance in 1892.

Here is a documentary about Glass Armonica

"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" on the Glass Armonica


Monday, October 1, 2007


The Dubreq Stylophone is a miniature electronic musical instrument invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis. It consists of a metal keyboard played by touching it with a stylus - each note being connected to a cheap voltage-controlled oscillator via a different-value resistor - thus closing a circuit. Some three million Stylophones were sold, mostly as children's toys. Rolf Harris appeared for several years as the Stylophone's advertising spokesman in the United Kingdom.

Here is how it works and sounds:

Hexstatic - Stylophone

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Aeolian harp

An aeolian harp (or æolian harp or wind harp) is a musical instrument that is "played" by the wind. It is named for Aeolus, the ancient Greek god of the wind.

The traditional aeolian harp is essentially a wooden box including a sounding board, with strings stretched lengthwise across two bridges. It is placed in a slightly opened window where the wind can blow across the strings to produce sounds. The strings can be made of different materials (or thicknesses) and all be tuned to the same note, or identical strings can be tuned to different notes.

Here is an example (wav-file) of the wind playing from the, which builds these instruments.

And here is a clip, by Sarah Deere "Jones Celtic and Aeolian Harp"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

vOICe Java Applet

Voice - is a free online soundscape synthesizer and sequencer. This Java applet allows you to draw your own 64 × 64, 16 grey-tone image and immediately hear the corresponding 64-voice polyphonic visual sound being synthesized on the fly! See and hear how The vOICe mapping works for your input. The 64-channel sound synthesis maps the image into an exponentially distributed frequency interval for a one second visual sound.

An interesting thing, though it is not easy to produce something well sounding.
On this animation page you can see how different images sound.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The best of Theremin

This a great theremin cover of a song by Gnarls Barkley. Just great.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hang - a steel drum

A hang is a steel drum. It is struck with the fingers, the sound is generally much softer than a steel drum, and can be played in many ways to produce a large variety of sounds.

The hang was devleoped in 2000 in Bern, Switzerland by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer (PANArt Hangbau AG) and introduced at Musikmesse Frankfurt in 2001. Its name comes from the Berne dialect word for hand.

The hang is typically played resting on the players' lap, and can also be played on a stand. The inner note on the bottom dome is the bass note, and when played in a dampened way allows change in pitch. Seven (in the bass version) or eight (treble version of the Hang) notes are tuned harmonically around a central deep note. The hemispheres are hardened by a process known as gas-nitriding.

In the spring of 2006 the hangmakers presented a new generation of Hanghang (plural form of Hang). The new instruments have an upper surface of annealed brass and a ring of brass around the circumference.

Here is an introduction video to Hang:

A couple of videos of a good hang drummer

Hang Drum- Manu Delago

And a great video of Hang Drum played live by Beate Gatscha.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dub Selector!

If you like dub - Infinite Wheel - Dub Selector is definitely a worthwhile flash game. It has 9 parts, all of them generate some dub and reggae tunes. I personally like vol. 3 and vol. 8 Burning Babylon. Takes some time to get used to, and sounds pretty well after a while. Enjoy :)