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Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected

sian, west wales 06 Oct 03 - 11:08 AM
Steve Parkes 06 Oct 03 - 12:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Oct 03 - 01:44 PM
sian, west wales 06 Oct 03 - 04:16 PM
Amos 06 Oct 03 - 05:20 PM
Murray MacLeod 06 Oct 03 - 05:29 PM
Bill D 06 Oct 03 - 06:09 PM
Amos 06 Oct 03 - 06:24 PM
Joybell 06 Oct 03 - 07:06 PM
RangerSteve 06 Oct 03 - 07:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Oct 03 - 07:35 PM
Leadfingers 06 Oct 03 - 07:35 PM
Seamus Kennedy 06 Oct 03 - 07:48 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 06 Oct 03 - 07:58 PM
Joybell 06 Oct 03 - 08:42 PM
Joybell 06 Oct 03 - 08:47 PM
JennyO 06 Oct 03 - 09:02 PM
LadyJean 06 Oct 03 - 09:31 PM
Joybell 06 Oct 03 - 09:36 PM
Charley Noble 06 Oct 03 - 10:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 06 Oct 03 - 11:33 PM
Ebbie 07 Oct 03 - 01:20 AM
Murray MacLeod 07 Oct 03 - 03:24 AM
Steve Parkes 07 Oct 03 - 04:05 AM
sian, west wales 07 Oct 03 - 06:10 AM
Grab 07 Oct 03 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,john of elsie`s band 07 Oct 03 - 07:32 AM
JohnInKansas 07 Oct 03 - 08:44 AM
The Fooles Troupe 07 Oct 03 - 08:52 AM
sian, west wales 07 Oct 03 - 11:27 AM
Steve Parkes 07 Oct 03 - 12:26 PM
sian, west wales 07 Oct 03 - 05:27 PM
Amos 07 Oct 03 - 06:17 PM
Joybell 07 Oct 03 - 06:38 PM
RangerSteve 07 Oct 03 - 08:35 PM
LadyJean 08 Oct 03 - 01:10 AM
Wilfried Schaum 08 Oct 03 - 02:48 AM
Murray MacLeod 08 Oct 03 - 03:49 AM
sian, west wales 08 Oct 03 - 04:24 AM
Mudlark 08 Oct 03 - 04:26 AM
mooman 08 Oct 03 - 04:45 AM
Dave Bryant 08 Oct 03 - 05:43 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Oct 03 - 06:58 AM
Partridge 08 Oct 03 - 07:07 AM
Splott Man 08 Oct 03 - 07:54 AM
Rapparee 08 Oct 03 - 10:39 AM
CraigS 08 Oct 03 - 11:22 AM
Steve Parkes 08 Oct 03 - 11:51 AM
Peterr 08 Oct 03 - 12:20 PM
Rapparee 08 Oct 03 - 12:54 PM
Steve Parkes 09 Oct 03 - 03:51 AM
Gurney 09 Oct 03 - 05:17 AM
fogie 09 Oct 03 - 05:29 AM
Joybell 09 Oct 03 - 05:43 AM
Steve Parkes 09 Oct 03 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Ghirotondo at work 09 Oct 03 - 10:21 AM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Oct 03 - 10:35 PM
sian, west wales 10 Oct 03 - 04:19 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Oct 03 - 05:30 AM
Dave Bryant 10 Oct 03 - 06:40 AM
GUEST 10 Oct 03 - 06:52 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Oct 03 - 06:52 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Oct 03 - 06:54 AM
Roger the Skiffler 10 Oct 03 - 09:33 AM
sian, west wales 10 Oct 03 - 09:37 AM
Roger the Skiffler 10 Oct 03 - 09:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Oct 03 - 10:26 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Oct 03 - 10:27 AM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Oct 03 - 10:26 PM
JennieG 11 Oct 03 - 12:44 AM
dick greenhaus 11 Oct 03 - 12:58 AM
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Subject: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 11:08 AM

I was listening to Home Truths recently (BBC Radio 4 - it's available on-line) when the discussion turned to Strange Apparati Upon Which to Make Music. Someone was doing strange things with hip bones - or, to be precise, the bits left over after hip replacement surgery.

Another person did something which involved cutting off the trumpet-y bit of a trumpet, rejoining it using a garden hose, then swinging the garden hose overhead while playing the trumpet. Very weird effects can be achieved, if you believe the reviews.

Someone else was waxing lyrical about tying threads to the two ends of a wire coat hanger, wrapping the other ends of the threads around your fingers, sticking your fingers in your ears, then walking about letting the coat hanger bang up against things. It apparently makes neat sounds.

One caller claimed to have been able to play Amazing Grace on an egg slicer back in the '60s - but that modern slicers no longer have this ability.

I must have led a sheltered life; apart from blowing into pop bottles or buzzing around with tissue paper and a comb, my instrumental dabblings have been mundane to say the least.

I thought there might be 'Catters, however, who have experimented in this direction.

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 12:25 PM

Haven't tried it with a coat-hanger, but in the 50s I read about the same idea with a fork (the eating kind, not the digging kind!)You can ring the changes (pun intended) with a couple of forks, a fork and a spoon, different sizes, and so on. You get a really good deep tone, and it's alnost inaudible to everyone else; of course, this menas they'll think you 're barmy, but you get used to that.

Then there;'s the famous lions's roar: make up one half of a string-and-in-can telephone, then rub something like violin rosin or candle wax on the string; when you pll the string ently, lttting it slip throuh your fingers, you get a kind of growling noise. You can vary this from the eponymous lion's roar to a creepy old dungeon door-creak.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 01:44 PM

Did yiy check the ad that's been linked to this thread. "Buy Quality Ear Candles". Unbelievable - click on it and be astonished (and the Cats gets a bit of loot from the click too. Do people really go in for this?


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 04:16 PM

Links must have changed! Drat - missed that! Do you have the URL tucked away?

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Amos
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 05:20 PM

Ear Candles. Don't ask me what one does with them....unless they are only named euphemistically.

A


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 05:29 PM

The musical egg slicer takes me back....

I would take the claims of playing Amazing Grace with a pinch of salt, unless the slicer had been customised, but I always thought that it would in fact be possible for a skilled engineer to make a working egg-slicer which also doubled as a musical instrument.

The problem is that each wire would have to be individually tuneable, in the standard egg-slicer it is one continuous length of wire, so individual tuning is out of the question...

Murray


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 06:09 PM

I remember many years ago, in the days before color TV, seeing a program where a fellow had a hobby of making different things make 'music'. One I remember was a bicycle pump, on which he would squeeze the hose as he pumped and eke out sort of recognizable tunes. I can play a blade of grass sometimes, but it's not exactly something to build a career on.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Amos
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 06:24 PM

Well, Paris was agog for Le Petomaine, back when he was at the peak of his career.

Details can be found on this page entitled Homage to a Forgotten Fart Artist.

Never doubt yourself!!


A


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Joybell
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 07:06 PM

I seem to remember people playing tunes using hollow teeth. In situ teeth that is - on local talent shows on TV back a way. And there was Doctor Flamo who had a row of lit candles - (not ear ones - if I remember rightly and I think I would) - As he put his hand over them in sequence he sang "ouch, ouch " in tune. He probably doesn't count but it was a great act. He was on the American "Gong Show" which featured a lot of strange musical acts.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: RangerSteve
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 07:26 PM

Ear candles are made of cloth reinforced wax. They're long hollow cones. You lie on your side and someone puts the candle in your ear and lights it. Supposedly, the heat draws up any impurities in your ear, mainly ear wax. Most doctors don't recommend this. It seems that some people have had the candle wax drip into their ears, which defeats the purpose, and sometimes causes damage to your ear drum.

Back to the subject of this thread, tie a rubber band to the drawer handle of a metal desk, stretch it out and pluck it. This is a great way to kill time at work. (metal desks have the best resonance. Wood doesn't work as well).


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 07:35 PM

I think Bill D is thinking of Gerard Hoffnung who (amongst other things) organised an Albert Hall Concert with all kinds of weird and wonderful instruments made out of plumbing and so forth.

Also famous in the folk context for the talk he gave which later became the basis for the song "Why Paddy won't be in to work".


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 07:35 PM

An old mate used to play Head in a R & B Band -- Microphone in open mouth,then rap on head with knuckles.Opening and closing mouth gives different notes. SERIOUSLY WEIRD,


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 07:48 PM

If I remember correctly, PDQ Bach used to play all sorts of weird instruments in his concerts and on recordings.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 07:58 PM

To return to the egg-slicer... I've seen door knockers in the shape of miniature hammer dulcimers strung with one continuous length of wire. They play a chord (sort of) when struck by a swinging weight. I guess that if the relative string lengths were just right you could play a melody on one of them.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Joybell
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 08:42 PM

OOOH! back to the Ear Candles. Thanks McGrath. Google has lots of info on them. Better to use this add and I tried but it seems to have gone away. Seems they were an ancient Greek tradition and they passed them on to the Hopi. Wow!! AND they are "NON EVASIVE" (sic)They don't run away?!! There are pictures of them in use. They cure practically everything. Especially if you breathe in through your ear. Works like a chimney they say.
Hello, this is Joybell's old geezer with a suggestion of his own: Light the candle and hold it near the left earhole. then have somebody look into the right earhole. if they can see the flame, then the patient is a suitable candidate for ear-candle therapy. bye for now.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Joybell
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 08:47 PM

Warning - In a 1999 study at Johns Hopkins, 253 patients were studied after they had been treated with ear candles. In every case, it was found that the brain had been totally vaporized. However, in no case was any change in behavior noted.
No study has yet been published concerning the placement of lit candles in any other orifice of the human body.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: JennyO
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 09:02 PM

Thread drift again - my father-in-law had a recording on tape of Gerard Hoffnung delivering his "Barrel of Bricks" story. I heard it long before the other variations. I wish I could capture here the inflections in his voice and the pauses for effect - it was very funny - but here are the words anyway.

THE BRICKLAYER'S STORY
by
Gerard Hoffnung
(from his Oxford Union speech)

I've got this thing here that I must read to you.
Now, this is a very tragic thing... I shouldn't, really, read it out.

A striking lesson in keeping the upper lip stiff is given in a recent number of the weekly bulletin of 'The Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors' that prints the following letter from a bricklayer in Golders Green to the firm for whom he works.

Respected sir,

when I got to the top of the building, I found that the hurricane had knocked down some bricks off the top. So I rigged up a beam, with a pulley, at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels of bricks.
When I had fixed the building, there was a lot of bricks left over.
I hoisted the barrel back up again and secured the line at the bottom and then went up and filled the barrel with the extra bricks.
Then, I went to the bottom and cast off the rope.
Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was and before I knew what was happening, the barrel started down, jerking me off the ground.
I decided to hang on!
Halfway up, I met the barrel coming down... and received a severe blow on the shoulder.
I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers jammed in the pulley!
When the barrel hit the ground, it burst it's bottom... allowing all the bricks to spill out.
I was now heavier than the barrel and so started down again at high speed!
Halfway down... I met the barrel coming up and received severe injury to my shins!
When I hit the ground... I landed on the bricks, getting several painful cuts from the sharp edges!
At this point... I must have lost my presence of mind... because I let go of the line!
The barrel then came down... giving me a very heavy blow and putting me in hospital!

I respectfully request 'sick leave'.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: LadyJean
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 09:31 PM

On the subject of strange instruments:
I belong to the Society for Creative Anachronism. We do the good parts of the middle ages, including period music.
One night, the music guild met at my parents' house. The leader (Something of a twerp.) was proudly displaying his new crumhorn. My mother was really very kind, considering that it was made of the same plastic pvc piping she'd had to repair the sprinkling system for the lawn.
Then he started to play the thing! Mother headed out to the kitchen where she could laugh in peace. If you've ever heard a crumhorn, you know why!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Joybell
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 09:36 PM

I heard it first as an Irish joke back in the 1960s. Yours is better JennyO. It reappeared recently here in Australia as a true story in a "Strange but True" type of magazine. Someone got $100 (Aus) for it. Wish I'd thought of it. $100 would be quite welcome.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 10:18 PM

Thanks, Joybell, for explaining more about "ear candles."

Now there was that "whalecaller" prototype that one of our band members borrowed from some Greenpeace folks; it failed to interest any whales but it produced remarkable whale-like sounds to our ears. It was shaped like a large metal urn, which you filled with water, and there were several metal struts welded to it of different lengths which were bowed. We had a lot of fun with it, accompaning some of our whaling ballads, but unfortunately had to return it to its owners. It's probably gathering dust now in someone's closet.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 11:33 PM

Well Lady Jean, have you ever heard a Rackett played?
If you do, you will know where the use fo the word in modern times came from.

When I was a little kid, my mother's father used to entertain me with knives. the old kitchen table was such that just under the top, you could slide in table knives - the thype which had the back and front edges of the blade parallel - and by setting them at differing lenghts, you could get several tones, and make a tune.

Also an old instrument is The Glass Harmonica. Benjamin Franklin apparently worked out some improvements. The modern form is of a set of nested glass bowls that are rotated by a motor, and you touch your fingertips to the edge of the bowls to make a tune.

An earlier form is to take glasses - the better crystal the purer the tone - and partially fill each to tune it. You rub your clean slightly moistened finger around the clean edge of the rim. You can also strike each one gently with a teaspoon or such, but this is a Glass Xylophone.

And an even weirder one is to take the stomach of a goat or sheep, and stick some pipes in it, one to blow in, and put some noisemaker reeds in the others. You squueze it with your arm, and some people even like the noises it makes. Some warriors used to use it to charge in to battle with.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Ebbie
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 01:20 AM

In that link they cited 'food grade' ear candles. ??


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 03:24 AM

I discovered a most unexpected sound source during my formative years while working part-time in a local hotel.

Back in these days ice-cream used to be delivered in massive cases with huge dollops of frozen carbon dioxide inside to keep the ice cream cold. Frozen carbon dioxide is of course the stuff known as "dry ice" much beloved by rock bands for producing smoke/mist effects when immersed in water.

Anyway, I discovered that if you take a metal dish and hold a piece of frozen CO2 against it, it produces a shrill sustained screaming note. I conjecture that the ultra-rapid cooling sets up a vibration in the metal.

It would surely not be beyond the wit of man to construct a keyboard operated instrument with different sized dishes ???

Murray


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 04:05 AM

Just remembered another fun-with-string noise maker. Take a 12" (30cm) boxwood ruler, drill a hole near one end, and attach a piece of string. The string mustn't e too short, but if it's too long you can wind up the excess. Now swing the ruler around your head on the string. (It's probably best do this out of doors.) The ruler will spin on its long axis, making a roaring noise. Stop from time to time to let the string rewind/unwind. If you hit someone with the ruler while it's spinning, you'll almost cetrtainly draw blood, so it's two toys in one. A bit like a boomerang, but without the skill.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 06:10 AM

Murray, somehow the idea of making a dish scream strikes me as slightly ... hmmm ... sadistic. I know: inanimate object. But still ...

Steve, I remember that ruler thing too! Very much a Boy Thing in our playground. It also reminds me of those ridged lengths of plastic tubing you can still get - about a meter long and you swing them at various speeds to get notes. Whoever thought of that one as something 'marketable' deserves a pat on the back! The phrase 'money for old rope' comes to mind.

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Grab
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 07:14 AM

Murray, it's probably the gas being produced as the CO2 boils off. Pressure builds up, bowl moves slightly, gas goes away, bowl moves back, etc.

A variation on Steve's bullroarer that I had as a kid was a birdsong imitator. That was a metal tube with a hole in it, on a string. You whirled it round and it made tweeting noises like a demented budgie.

A few years back I saw a very good percussion show in a town centre, with various "industrial"-based instruments. The most impressive thing was big lengths of 6" diameter corrugated plastic pipe with some kind of drum-skin over the ends, so that they'd produce a definite note when you hit the end. The guys playing this were getting some really good tunes out of it.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: GUEST,john of elsie`s band
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 07:32 AM

Music on unusual implements??. See "The Amazing Mr. Smith"


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 08:44 AM

Most of the instruments mentioned so far are well documented in any number of books on homemade and/or "found instruments."

Possibly the strangest I've seen, and not documented in any published text to my knowledge, was the fellow who passed through our Winfield campground some years back playing a cicada. Placed in the mouth, and "teased" until it does its characteristic "buzz," the mouth can be used to "tune" the bug to "play a tune(?)."

Another fellow played a handfull of boards, about 1" x 2" and cut to appropriate lengths. Laid across a couple of 2x4s somewhat in the manner of a xylophone, he played by beating on them with a rather large box-end wrench. Surprisingly musical. With "construction grade" lumber, it appears that you do have to hit rather forcefully to get a musical "ring" from them.

Kids in my youth used to occasionally "play the barn." A 10 or 20 foot piece of "binder twine" tied to a nail on the barn wall makes an excellent "tub base" with an enormous sound board; but you really have to "lean on the string" to get much tuning range. It does tend to make the mule a little nervous if you keep it up too long.

John


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 08:52 AM

I think he's called Lindsay Pollock from memory, has a web site somewhere, has a wide range of instruments that he has been taking to public events in Oz for years. He's been all around the world too.

He a sopemthing called a "thongophone" - tuned lengths of 4" PVC pipe, and you slap the open ends of the pipes with a rubber thong. Lovely deep (some of the pipes are more than 8 ft long) resonat sound.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 11:27 AM

John, you put a cicada in your mouth??? Apart from anything else, aren't there animal cruelty laws about that. oooo yuk.

Robin, my immediate reaction to thongophone involved the more uncomfortable end of current underclothing fashion. I know some of them look like they can slice eggs, but the idea of playing Amazing Grace on them is a little 'outre' for me.

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 12:26 PM

The cicada thing is common in some third world country or other: you tie a small but noisy fly to a stick, and use it like a jew's harp. I heard it on a record made by a JH enthusiast back in the 60s or 70s.

Nobody's mentioned the Aeolian harp yet. Maybe nobody knows how to spell it ...


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 05:27 PM

Apart from anything else, this thread is throwing up some strange Ads by Google! Currently the Ear Candles plus Jack Nicklaus Hip Implant.

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Amos
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 06:17 PM

Demented budgies!! Oral Cicadas!! I love this madhouse.... :>))


A


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Joybell
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 06:38 PM

Great stuff. The bull roarer ruler idea was used by us girls too here in Australia back in the 1950s - before battery operated noise makers. Did anyone else ever send for one of those - throw your voice gadgets and actually make it work? Do you know what I mean? They doubled as bird callers I seem to recall. Little bits of leather you put in your mouth. I was so dissapointed --the ads made them look such fun.
We have a pair of metal poles on our old school property out here in country Victoria, (where the flag poles used to go) and the holes play interesting music when the wind blows from the right direction. Quite eerie on a moonlight night. We are a long way from man made noise and light. We can't wait to try out some of these wonderful entertainments by the light of our ear candles (food grade of course) Our pleasures are simple these days.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: RangerSteve
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 08:35 PM

Is the hip implant autographed by Nicklaus?

An accidental musical instrument I discovered was my house. Buck running across my back yard at night would get their antlers caught on the clothesline which would stretch out and snap back, causing the whole house to resonate like the worlds biggest washtub bass, probably like the barn bass described above. It never failed to scare the daylights out of me.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: LadyJean
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 01:10 AM

Mother had a set of watergoblets. If you wet your finger and ran it along the edge, they made a wonderfully eerie noise that upset the cats and made the dog bark. Every time we had company, we used those glasses, and we always made that noise.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 02:48 AM

Foolestroupe - G.F. Händel is said to have composed a piece for the Glass Harmonica. But when it was performed in an overheated auditorium the water filled into the glasses for tuning evaporated and the tuning went havoc. So did Händel.
I don't know the source anymore, but it was a book about curious instruments.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 03:49 AM

Wifried, is that in fact the correct way to spell "Handel" ie "Händel" ? I had never seen his name spelled with an umlaut before, so if it is the correct spelling I assume one should pronounce his name "Hendel" rather than "Handle"

Murray


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 04:24 AM

RSteve - if it isn't autographed, I ain't orderin' one!

Joybell, you reminded me of a lookout point I visited this summer in mid Wales. Superb view on a gusty-windy day. For some reason (I don't think tourism officials are creative enough to do it on purpose) there were holes in the poles holding up the interpretation boards and - probably because of the gustiness - we were entertained with quite a lively tune. Neat.

Re: aeolian harps, the new (second) Severn Crossing bridge is as melodic as it is elegant.

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Mudlark
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 04:26 AM

There was a bizarre and very funny guy on early TV, at least in the LA area, named Hawthorne, who invented odd instruments, one of which was called a Hogantwanger...I think it was along the lines of a garden hose attached to the working end of a plumber's friend. (which end did he blow in? I'm not even going to go there!)

My favorite weird instrument is the theramin.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: mooman
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 04:45 AM

Probably very common but I can play my cheeks (of my face!) with a pair of pencils or the tips of my fingers. You get the different notes by opening and closing you mouth or shanging its internal shape.

At the peak of my powers I could do a good Willian Tell or Bum of the Flightle Bee and could probably still conjure these up if asked politely. This all sounds rather good through a decent microphone such as a Shure SM58 and high power PA system.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 05:43 AM

A hilarious duo called "Mister Gladstone's Bag" used to use some strange contraptions to duplicate sounds from early phonograph recordings. One of their instruments was a giant version of the bird warbler water-filled whistle which they called a "Pneumatic Nightingale". It was constructed from a watering-can with a Whistle down the spout and was powered by a large upright car tyre pump. They also sang through megaphones which contained some sort of mechanism to make a scratching sound. Surprisingly their version of "Beautiful Bird Sing on" came out exactly the same as the original Edison cylinder recording.

Sid Kipper seems to like producing spoof Norfolk instruments such as crab shells. Dave Driscoll of "Sadie Greensales Ragtime Jugband" plays a saw, but instead of using a bow, he uses a small percusion drumstick. If you get the chance to hear him do - he also plays two clarinet at once !


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 06:58 AM

Somewhere I have an LP from the past which was created from chart outputs of the Sun's radiation output. The charts are called by physisists "Bartel's Music Diagrams".

Interesting, but just as unsatisfying as some of that really nasty pseudorandom "New Age Enviornment Relaxing" music, which just warbles around without any plan or resolution. Drives me crazy with unresolved tension - dammned if I know how people could possibly delude themselves that they were being relaxed by it!

Music Of the Spheres - I hope not!

So I think this one comes near the top of the list of most unusual instruments... :-)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Partridge
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 07:07 AM

I used to be able to play she'll be comin round the mountain on my teeth while brushing them, you have to change the shape of your mouth to get the right notes. I seem to remember that it made quite a mess if the toothpaste was foamy. Must try it again........

Pat x


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Splott Man
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 07:54 AM

The aforementioned Amazing Mr Smith has made a variety of instruments from condoms. Have a look at his web page.

Jonathon Shorland (among others) has a set of bagpipes he made from a rubber glove, a camping foot pump and various bits of hosepipe.

For my sins, I can play Turkey in the Straw in a plectrum - same principal as a Jew's harp - try it.

A couple of years ago, Techniquest in Cardiff organised a series of concerts with the National Orchestra of Wales, featuring a newly commissioned work in which several strange instruments were played, including a giant swanee flute made from an adapted bass recorder, a bumfiddle - a one string fiddle with an inflated balloon as a resonator (it looks like a bum!) - and a variation on the glass harmonica in which lights were activated by the different notes.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Rapparee
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 10:39 AM

Get some willing volunteers who are wearing thong underwear (filling them to various levels with various liquids will help). Line them up in whatever order you choose. Wearing examination gloves (the purple nitrile ones will add some color to the performance), pluck the thongs at their narrowest point and let them snap back. The sounds are amazing, and can be varied by the mouth shape of the pluckee, degree of bend of the pluckee (if any), gender and sex (if any of either), and amount of contained liquid. In some cases sounds can come from either end of the instrument's "frets".

Don't wear latex gloves, as some of the pluckees might be allergic and will bring interesting, but non-germane, sounds to the instrument.

I've played "I pluck the thongs" and "September thong" on this instrument, not to mention lots and lots of folk thongs. The greatest danger to the plucker is getting a finger caught under the "string."

Try it. Your next gig will have a whole new sound and audience!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: CraigS
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 11:22 AM

A word of warning - don't touch dry ice without thermal insulation (eg. an oven glove) or you'll get frostbite!

The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra used to feature some odd instruments, including the Ballcockaphone - don't ask what it sounded like, I can't even remember whether it was string or wind driven!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 11:51 AM

I remember the ballcockaphone! I'd forgotten all about it ... it was a wind instrument; at least, it had a trumpet mouthpiece, which he put to his lips and blew through, while working the valve with the ballcock lever. It looked better than it sounded, if memory serves!

Gosh ... I was right back there in the Railway Hotel at Pelsall for a few moments!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Peterr
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 12:20 PM

Saw Old Rope String Band last week. They use a theramin, and a mate said he was sure he'd got a circuit diagram for one in his garage. They also struck plastic tubes of varying lengths with which they first created'In the Mood', and then 'Shepherd's Hey' while dancing it.
Off the wall or what? The village hall audience of about 60 souls were weeping and aching with laughter throughout the show - so was I and I knew what to expect!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Rapparee
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 12:54 PM

In all seriousness (if that's possible in this sort of thing), I've heard music (?) played by folks using gun barrels as instruments. The disconnected ones, open at both ends, were played like trumpets; the closed ones, like on a flintlock, were blown like bottles. Varying lengths gave varying tones. No, they were not loaded.

Hunters in some sections of the US used to use shotgun barrels as hunting horns.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 03:51 AM

Back in the 60s there were a couple of guys in one of the Guards regiments who got in the papers and on the telly by playing their rifles. They still had Lee-Enfield .303s in those days; you opened the breech, shoved a bugle mouthpiece into the muzzle and ... just played! Didn't sound too good, but as Dr Johnsosn said about the dog walking on its hind legs ...

I also remember James Robertson Justice (I thik!) playing a tune on his hand in a similar manner: he made an "OK" sign with his thumb and forefinger, and blew through that!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Gurney
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 05:17 AM

Roy Castle played an incredible number of instruments on TV in Britain (BBC,there wasn't anything else)for a Guinness Book record attempt years ago. Many were varients on wind instruments, the most memorable to me was a lavatory pan, blown from behind (aren't they all?) Most sonorous.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: fogie
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 05:29 AM

I'm sure it was on this site a year or so ago someone from the Americas made a living blowing through his fingers holding a special leaf He had recordings of him playing it! I second the Old rope string band entry, What about the Bonzos playing on a leg! Oh no not the leg! Legs Larry Smith etc. They could make a therumin sort of whine depending how near they were ,and where on the leg their hans were.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Joybell
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 05:43 AM

fogie, Gum leaf players are pretty thick on the ground here. Lot of them very good too. Never could do it but most of the other school kids could.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 09:38 AM

We used privet leaves when was a kid; being evergreen, they were a bit more robust than your average deciduous leaf. Fold the leaf along the main rib, or as close as you can (it will snap); then make a slit by pressing a fingernail through it; then put your thumbs together, side by side, with the leaf in the gap between the knuckles and the fold towards you (you really need three hands to do this); then blow gently between your thumbs until you get a very loud squawking noise. I don't know anyody who could get any more than a wah-wah sound by moving their palms/fingers; I'd be interested to see someone play a tune (although I'm not sure I'd be interested to hear someone play a tune!)

It's a double-reed instrument, BTW, if you want to be technical - like an oboe.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: GUEST,Ghirotondo at work
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 10:21 AM

When two years ago I went to a concert by Kepa Junkera, I was fascinated by the Txalaparta, wooden beams of various lenghts struck by long pieces of wood by two persons (pretty reductive, huh? ;o)). See Txalaparta.
The intertwining of the rithm was really astonishing. By the way, also Kepa was great!
Ghiro


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Oct 03 - 10:35 PM

Australian Gum leaves are normally blown single reed style - at least I have nver noticed them blown in double reed style, although I suppose some people could do it that way.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 04:19 AM

Gee - we just used to use couch grass! Only managed to do it once, and can't remember how ...

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 05:30 AM

Grass leaves are suitable, if they're broad enough. But take care - some types can cause nasty cuts to the fingers and tongue.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 06:40 AM

To play a piece of grass (not the illegal substance type) - place hands together with fingers somewhat arched and the sides of thumbs touching. Insert blade of grass between thumbs - you should have a long thin gap between them - place your lips over this and blow. By flexing your thumbs you can alter the tension of the leaf - tightening will raise the pitch. You can also use the palms of the hand to create a resonance chamber and get wow-wow sounds.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 06:52 AM

If you hit your cheeks with the hollow of your palms you get a lovely slapping noise. The pitch can be varied by varying the size of your buccal cavity. The Willian Tell Overture is hilarious when played in this manner and is not difficult to get perfectly in tune. For a clearer tone, put a microphone in your mouth and tap the top of your head with a spoons (hurts a bit), the Demon Barbers do William tell in harmony with this method. Brilliant!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 06:52 AM

Just like a leaf, in fact!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 06:54 AM

"Just like a leaf" goes with Dave's post, not with Guest's. I must type faster!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:33 AM

I've just discovered details of a latenigfht (well, 11.30pm)BBC Radio 4 series on unusual instruments. Missed them. Last night was the kazoo. I must see if they've been archived!

RtS


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: sian, west wales
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:37 AM

Bl**dy elitist BBC. Kazoos aren't unusual! Probably the first (sometimes 'only') instrument a kid get's a tune out of!

The Everyman of the instrumental world.

sian


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:49 AM

The series is called "Music for a tenner", another episode was on percussion, could there have been (be still, my beating heart) a washboard in there? But the buggers haven't archived it. Damn!

RtS


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 10:26 AM

A tenner for a kazoo? Someone's been pulling their leg.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 10:27 AM

What? Give me a tenner -- I'll come round and play my kazoo for you!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 10:26 PM

It's been suggested in this thread Open tuning [what is it] that this thread should mention this ... Polite suggestions what to do with it (tuning wise) should perhaps be mentioned there or perhaps in The Ultimate Busking Tool...

I have a weird gagdet - a guitar neck bolted to an enamelled steel hospital bedpan. It sounds very tinny - lacking in bass because of limited volume and inefficient loading to air because of insufficient constriction of air (no soundholes as such) - it's quite open - as you may well it should be for its original purpose!, and I have been advised to try setting it up in nashville...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: JennieG
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 12:44 AM

My father used to insert a trumpet mouthpiece into a length of rubber or plastic garden hose and play that. At least I think it was a trumpet mouthpiece - may have been a euphonium or something else larger than a trumpet. It was a long time ago after all! He stopped up the open end of the hose with a finger or thumb and by releasing it partly or fully could vary the note played. He called it a Fartophone. We kids used to go into hysterics.....
Ah, we were easily amused aged about 10.......!
Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Tales of the Unexpected
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 11 Oct 03 - 12:58 AM

Back in the early 60's I had a Yamaha motorcycle with a close-ratio gearbox. On a deserted road I could make the exhaust play "Yankee Doodle" by judicious throttle/shifter interplay.


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