Wednesday, August 10, 2016


the listing on the venture challenge is Build your own musical instrument and play it outside. a rubber band tissue box guitar like we used to make when i was a kid would have done just fine, i guess. but the best way to do the challenge, i think, is to do things in a new way, and maybe learn something.

i had every intention of making a little whistle from willow twigs or knotweed stems or something while i was out camping, because camping represents for me an excellent  way to practice crafts that only leave a mess in my living room.

but then i was cutting up some firewood and i had a maple sapling i found down and dried and when i clunked pieces together i noticed they had a pleasing timbre.

so i thought maybe i could make a few pitched bars and maybe make a woodchime to hang in some trees and that would be nice.

and then while i was doing THAT i noticed that i could pitch the bars pretty accurately so then i thought i might make some kind of hangin xylophone with a pentatonic scale. why not? it's only five bars, right?

so THEN while i was working on pitching those bars (which i had to learn how to do by trial and error) i started getting notes that were NOT in my pentatonic scale, but they were in the diatonic major scale, so the next thing i knew i was only a bar or two short of a full octave and a sixth, which is the standard range of the classroom instruments used in the orff-schulwerk.

and then i noticed that placed on the ground they were more resonant than hanging, so i revised my plan and found a half hollow log that i could cut and modify to make a resonating chamber for the bars.

by the time two weeks was up and i had to go home, it was pretty decent, although i had not yet solved the problem of how to hold the bars in place and not dampen their resonance.

anyway, here are some pictures. i am disappointed with the video, because for reasons i cannot explain the the sound quality strips all the nice resonance from the sound of the bars and all you get it the clicking. this may be because of the positioning of the camera, or that the stool i had it propped on had a dampening effect, but either way i do not have a satisfactory recording of how this thing sounded.

i left it in the woods, of course i did.

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