We had previously covered the Aeolian harp as an instrument played by nature in that case the wind. In this case we are going to talk about the deep and natural sound of enormous and misterious ocean sings through the unique Sea Organ (Morske ogulje) an experimental musical instrument which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. Designed by award-winning architect Nikola Basic and built in 2005 the Sea Organ is located in Zadar, Croatia,and indeed has highlighted this location on the map becoming a great touristic attraction made out of a previous ugly concrete area into a elegant architectural element and soothing instrument. The Sea organ is in fact a giant 70 meters long instrument has 35 pipes and resonating underwater cavity so the waves create random harmonics.
At any given moment listeners can hear at least five pipes played in harmony by the waves and wind movements. Though random and unpredictable, the final result heard is surprisingly harmonious due tot he arrangement of the notes the pipes play meant to sound good together which plays music by way of the waves and tubes located underneath a set of long steps. Such nature-affected instruments are often called "aerophones". This page has a sample of "sea Organ" sounds. Below you can watch a video also to see and listen how the Sea Organ works and haunt the visitors with its unique sound. Sure it makes a great place to soothe your senses and gaze into the blue.
The air holes "breathe in" the wind along the shore, and the pipes hidden deep underwater make lower sounds.
Some interesting links
- Read the wikipedia article
- Another article with some details about the architect and engineer that built it with mp3 sample at:http://www.theworld.org/2010/11/25/sea-organ-zadar-croatia/
- Article about the Sea Organ with pictures at Odd music
Above: Viper and Sabre electric violin from Wood Violins
I've always been in love with bowed strings, that´s the reason why there is so much cello and violin in my own music. I've always felt a deep respect and praise for classical music and film scores, and I really thank when modern genres become daring enough to incorporate "classical" instruments to sound in a different edgier way.
And thus I landed into Wood violins looking for fretted bowed instruments, after covering previously the amazing guitar viols and with an article about fretted classical ancient viols that is on the making and coming soon, my search and happy customer reviews lead me to Wood Violins which seems to be pretty popular. Hand built and crafted in the USA this company states that they are meant to "completely revolutionize the string world" and being aware that is a company made by string players for string players and that way really know their task coming from accoustic instruments we can conclude that we refer to about electric violins, violas and cellos (and hopefully soon bass too) that despite being electric, still allow the player to convey emotion and incredible expressiveness
Also the option (your choice) of being able to have frets make you able to explore a wider vaeirety of chordal patterns and makes it easier for intonation. Thus you can move up and down the fingerboard like a electric guitar player thing that is extremely difficult in a classical non fretted instrument. In fact for those coming from guitar playing and not from violin they offer a six string model tuned and fretted in a similar way so they can explore this new realm of bowing.
Here you can see a video demo with what you will see and expect from Wood violins explained by owner and operator of the company Mark Wood
Wood violins patented design is unique.. and really gorgeous looking, closer though to "electric guitars" look than to classical it will be delight of metal and rock bands, but beware classical players... they really sound good so do not underestimate them because your previous exprience with electric have been dissapointed! As they say "these are very cool instruments aimed at players who are anxious to explore new territory" They are very passionate and committed about providing highly specialized customer support to our clients both before and after your purchase and will help you with amp options, pedal choices, music and exercise books and lots of other stuff. They also have a message board and community a great resource where users share their thoughs and ideas.
Being in a band where cello is so important, you face quite often the fact that it's a rather voluminous instrument to travel with but most of the electric cellos lack the emotion or the feeling toCobra cello and how really amazing it sounds. And with frets too, so my talented band member could use it but even i'd feel encouraged to learn! (can I hold a sigh!) And also you can play it like an electric for edgier, darker music.... :)
You can opt for a 4 to 6 strings with or without frets... (I'd be happy with a fretted viola or cello (craving sigh!!))
You can network with them in facebook too.
Above: Fully levered Fullsicle from Harpsicle Harps
Perhaps you have always wanted to play the harp? That's the first line you read in Harpsicle harps website. They´re a division ReesHarps.com (specialized in concert harps)
Well I've always wanted!! It was a childhood dream to me... It always looked a bit out of reach and too expensive for me. Then of course you could find a cheap Pakistani harp or middle eastern import.. and they may look so pretty, even engraved.. but don't fool yourself, after asking the advice of my friends harp players that actually know what it's playable or not, they told me to run away from this harps that are only "ornaments" and that will most likely will bring only dissatisfaction after a little while with low quality levers and materials, something that instead of a bargain will end up in your attic or wall getting dust. Harpsicle though are made in Indiana in the United States with fine materials and craftsmanship. They can be purchased from a lot of specialized stores and harp centers worldwide.
So you still want to play the harp, but you cannot afford a fortune in one (not that there aren't many lovely brands out there) but one that sounds and looks good enough to be your first harp (maybe even your forever harp)? That is how you may finally stumble upon (by so many user reviews and recommendations) in Harpsicle harps. And thus I'm waiting for mine... ! I'll update this article soon with pictures of it... so excited to be able to create music with it, and I've proved that the sound quality is great for studio work too!
Above: Harpsicle harp.
Harpsicles are well designed, sturdily built and have the correct string spacing which make them an excellent selection for a first time harper. Light and portable, they are also a wonderful choice for harp therapy practitioners and are recommended by many harp therapy programs. These simple harps have nice volume and tone. Harpsicle Harps are well made and maintain tuning as well as any professional harp.
Available in ten colors (for the fancier customers, but also in elegant black or natural wood). Children might prefer to have magical colorful first harp for princesses or little BardsThey come also with straps buttons included so you can easily hold it when performing or even marching. With 26 strings and a range of 3 1/2 octaves and as small and light (four pounds) as to put it in a soft bag and make it follow all your steps carrying it everywhere (for performers like me it's a good thing to know that Harpsicles Harps fit in the overhead storage bin or garment closet of most airliners)
You have models with no levers at a really very affordable price to fully levered models. It is important that you decided this first, as the harpsicle harps are not built ready to install them afterwards.If you are intending to change the tuning on stage you better opt for the levers. Most traditional music does only require a few accidentals and thus several options are offered. You also have the option of having an internal electric pickup installed so that your Fullsicle™ Harp can be played directly through an amplifier.
Harpsicle: Basically the range goes from the basic Harpsicle with no levers (like renaissance harps) for music in C and A minor key.
Sharpsicle: With sharping levers on the C and F strings. This allows the harp to play in 6 different keys (C,G,D major and A,E,B minor) without retuning.
Flatsicle: sharping levers on the C, F and B strings. This allows the harp to play in 8 different keys (C,G,D,F major and A,E,B,D minor) without retuning.
And Fullsicles (fully levered)
Above: fully levered fullsicle
They also feature some accessories like pickups, stands, instructional dvds for the newcomer to the instrument and more... Everything you may need to get started!
But overall you're dealing with a small company of crafters that seek the greatest quality and will respond friendly to any question or doubt you may have to chose your harp.
But if you need a harp with more range and still light weighted (only 10 pounds) you still have the option to get the 33 strings Grand Harpsicle.
33 strings grand harpsicle
UPDATE: I got my FULLSICLE!! It is so pretty and it has such a clear lovely tone :). Pickup already installed in it tested and working great and totally addicted to it. It's so small and light! Love it! Below there's a pic of me as the lucky owner of one (thanks to Harpsicle/Rees Harps) for the semi-endorse :)
Above: me with my fullsicle
Hulusi chinese flute
The name of the instrument southestern China traditional instrument Hulusi comes The instrument's name comes from the Chinese words hulu, meaning "gourd," and si, meaning "silk" (because of the smooth pure and very like clarinet or oboe sound it makes). Though obviusly related to chinese music it's become a very popular instrument in many countries.
It's an end blown free reed wind instrument. It is held vertically and has three bamboo pipes which pass through a gourd (wind chest; the center pipe has finger holes and the outer two are drone-. Sometimes one of the pipes is ornamental and has only one drone. . The drone pipe has a finger hole, which allows it to be stopped. HuluSi is especially known for its unrelenting, yet soft, moody tone.
The hulusi was originally used primarily in the Yunnan (means "south of the clouds") province by the Dai and other non-Han ethnic groups but is now played throughout China, and hulusi are manufactured in such northern cities as Tianjin.
The Hulusi or Gourd flute is one of the intruments with a more distinct "chinese" sound. Link to Melody of China with a streamable mp3 here
Above: Hulusi fingering chart as shown in Melody of China website. Click on image to see bigger.
Below a performance with an hulusi highlighted as solo instrument so you can see how this simple flute can convey the feelings of a trained player.
Don't know if you might be able to play it?
Here you can see a video of some fast tips to start to learn to play the hulusi
Where to buy one:
There are a lot of inexpensive hulusis from all sort of chinese importers... Wether if they're of high quality or playable I really don't know till I grab one, and I will come and edit information as soon as I can guess that. My experience when buying instruments you don't know is that look for an actual sample or avoid to go for the cheaper option.
Above: example of hulusi found in ebay
You can surf yourself hulusi in ebay and find a lot of hulusis chinese flutes available there. Some are really professional looking, and I'd recommend to sort out by price and not go for the cheaper one as you risk to get a not tuned or playable but a beautiful souvenir. I found some stores like interactchina and others that seemed to have rather good ones. Hope to be able to update when I have more information.
Above: Hulusi from Melody of China
Melody of china is a rather complete store for all sorts of chinese instruments, it features a long section of wind instruments including some nice looking Hulusis with samples of how they sound.
Have a look to Shopping china now, they have a selection of chinese musical instruments.
Nadishana folk instruments store also list one on sale. As he´s a player, I'd say this is a rather reliable source and shipping from Europe and good thing that you can see the actual instrument plyaed.
Some other interesting links
Hulusi in VST (virtual instrument)
For those making music with the computer and still interesting in the sound of the hulusi you can purchase for 60$ ChineHulusi from the company Kong Audio
Luna Guitars is a company specializing in guitars and other stringed instruments such us banjos, mandolins, bass, ukeleles...The company was founded in 2005 by designer Yvonne de Villiers and is based in Florida.Luna's mission statement is: "To craft fine stringed instruments with artistic sensibility that are comfortable, affordable, and inspire people of all ages and walks of life on their musical journey."
See for yourself... they are probably the prettiest guitars in the world... and actually. and actually they have indeed some of the prettiest designs I've seen! The look is stunning, the colors sometimes vibrant and daring... even having a "Fantasie" series portraying preraphaelite paintings printed in the body of the guitar. Definitely eye-catchy, they deserve a look, but they are also high quality instruments at reasonable price.
Luna´s product line is definitely eye-catching, but they are also high quality instruments at reasonable price. With a design that maximizes playing comfort, they're very light instruments with slim necks that sound great (it looks like a must option for me that I have little hands!), making it the most preferred option for many well known artists. Many of the designs look organic and inspired by nature and it's precisely in the looks where Luna guitars have one of their most solid and biggest assets. Not only they sound pretty... they are pretty!
Above: Inspiration and story about Luna guitars. You can see a selection of videos at their youtube channel. Also feel free to network with them at their facebook profile.
Above: My favorite looking (sigh) maybe because I have an obsession for dragonflies and it features a trio of inlaid dragonflies gathered around the sound hole on a solid spruce top to make the Oracle Dragonfly among Luna Guitars' most distinctive models. Simply magical! I'd love to grab one of these!! Isn´t it pretty?
Some of the models feature 12 strings like this Trinity 12 stringed, also with a lovely sound hole in the shape of a Celtic knot. Great looking for Celtic and folk bands! The Trinity series is somehow one of the classic images you relate with Luna guitars. Below: bouzouki with the trinity symbol, I have a fellow band member that would love this one! :)
Also they feature "smaller" models of guitars acoustic and electric making it more easy to travel with for those with a wandering soul.
They also make bass (both acoustic and electric) and electric guitars for those with a more rocking heart!
Above: Raven bass, dark, elegant, great looking for Goth bands! gorgeous!
The name means "to make noise, hum or buzz". The gadulka is an integral part of Bulgarian traditional instrumental ensembles, commonly played in the context of dance music. Sometimes referred as the "Balkan fiddle"
The resonance chamber is pear shaped similar to a lute forming a bowl or gourd and it's often carved out of a single piece of wood. The player holds it up right hanging from the belt or on the lap if sitting. Of byzanthine procedence it is rather similar to the Greek lyre. Gadulka strings are steel, either plain in the smaller gauges or wound with steel or bronze in the larger ones; they are basically guitar strings. The strings are secured to the tailpiece by their ball ends!It has three melody strings and up to 16 strings thinner metallic steel sympathetic strings that make resonance upon the tones, making the gadulka sounds more clear (the natural sound of gadulka is quieter than the violin though less crispy and pleasant to the ear). The strings are played with the nails. The tone of the gadulka is obtained by gliding the strings with the bow made of flexible forked willow twig and tied with horse hair and waxed with rosin.
Unlike many other stringed instruments, there is no nut at the top of the strings: the strings are simply stretched between a tuning peg at the top and the tailpiece at the bottom, passing over the bridge (the playing strings) or through holes in the bridge (the sympathetics). The tailpiece is typically made out of bone, and secured to the carved projecting "end pin" by stout steel wire. The end pin also serves to hold the bottom of the instrument to a strap or belt worn by the player. It is bowed with an underhand grip.The top (soundboard) is also carved with a shallower arch. The overall construction is quite heavy compared to, say, a violin, though some gadulkas are exquisitely built. The instrument generally lacks any real decoration or ornamentation, apart from the design of the peg head.
For more information we recommend to read as always the Gadulka wikipedia article
In Bulgaria it's used in folk traditional and ritual songs.Though apparently crude and unwieldy, this instrument is capable of great heights of technique and sensitivity in the hands of such masters as Nikola Parov, Giorgi Petrov or Mihail Marinov. In Bulgaria it is usually played in ensembles with the kaval (end-blown flute), gaida (bagpipe) and tambura (a type of guitar) or tapan (a large drum). Dance rhythms range from the relatively straightforward 7/8; to the 11/8 Kopanitsa to even 22/16
While various tunings are (and have been) used, the standard tuning for the gadulka is A-E-A for the three melody strings a pitch that gives more opportunities for solo instrumental performances but the tuning differ in different regions; the sympathetics (resonating strings) are tuned chromatically to cover all notes besides A and E
The 3 stringed Gadulka is pitched normally in these different regional ways: Thracia tuning: 1st string – A1 2nd string –E1 3rd string – A, Dobrudja tuning: 1st string – A1 2nd string – A 3rd string – E1 or Lingourie tuning: 1st string – A1 2nd string – E1 3rd string – D1
Example of gadulka tuning with three melody string (black) and 10 resonance strings (in red)
Only the upper strings are bowed while the other strings accompany only to resonate the sound rendering that echo-like haunting sound of the instrument.
We recommends "The Gadulka book" a book that includes the history of the instrument, its regional types, shapes, tuning scales and techniques including a lot of graphical material for easy learning. You can purchase this book from the store at Folk Factory.
Below you can see a video of a gadulka being played
Where to buy
In ebay you can find some gadulkas listed, from kid very cheap ones to actually playable instruments. Be sure you don't buy a souvenir one, that can go really cheap but though make sounds are not ready to be played.
- Ebay (here you can find a few playable ones for quite a bargain price... but beware souvenirs!!)
Check also these stores, they specializes in Bulgaria culture and instruments and list them :)
Above: Gadulka available at Balkan folk
I don't know the quality of these instruments or if they're playable, so I recommend to contact the sellers directly before purchasing, they are just links I've found when looking for gadulkas for myself. Hope to have one soon to make a proper review. We´ll keep on adding information about instructional material and where to buy them on future updates.
Need more inspiration?
Visit the website of the master gadulka player of traditional Bulgarian music Nikolay Kolev
Paul Marshall youtube channel includes several how to make inexpensive overtone flutes and fujaras (slovak bass overtone flute) out of PVC pipes. If I were crafty I'd be trying right away, and even not being I feel quite tempted to try. I was gifted an overtone flute by my friend Corwen and I saw how easy it turned out to be made and how in tune it actually plays. So here I leave you with a couple of videos.. if you love the overtone sounds and have a limited budget on your pocket, then check these videos:
A follow on from the overtone flute makling episode. This time I pay some attention to the sharp edge to generate a clearer note
The much requested details on how to control the airflow for this great sounding instrument based on the Slovakian Shepherd's Overtone Flute the Fujara
Here I leave you a video with some tips of how to play an overtone flute by Max Brumberg... tips and basic technique in five minutes
Feodor Pratšu playing Jouhikko © Museovirasto
Jouhikko (pronounced yo-hee-ko) is the name given to a distinctively type of bowed lyre from Finland and Karelia (an instrument old as human civilisation itself) though it resembles in some ways types of Baltic Psaltery from further east such as the Slav Gusli, and types of psaltery/lyre hybrids found in the archaeological record from Novgorod, Opole etc. It may be descended from these instruments rather than from the Round Lyre, strictly speaking this would make it a bowed psaltery rather than a bowed lyre, but whether a psaltery with a hand hole should be re-categorised as a lyre is a matter for musicologists... The origins of the jouhikko remains still a bit obscure, though obviously ancient.mPerhaps the earliest definite depiction of this kind of instrument is the stone carving from Trondheim Cathedral, Norway, dating from the second quarter of the 14th century Jouhikkos are usually strung with horsehair string,
It is related with the Finnish instrument Kantele that we previously covered in another CMI article.
Above: Alto jouhikko kit available at Ancient music (UK)
I have myself an alto Jouhikko I purchased from Kate and Corwen from Ancient Instruments (UK) -by the way very talented couple themselves- and by far the most affordable source for the quality of the instrument. As a lover of the kantele the jouhikko makes an excellent couple to this other instrument being partners in many pieces of finnish music. This is a video of Corwen himself explaining a bit of the instrument:
Learning to play it:
First you need to hold the instrument upright between the knees. The typical Jouhikko has a long, narrow outline, with only a small hand hole which is offset to one side, allowing only one of the three strings to be stopped. There are Jouhikkos with two strings only but they normally have three being the middle string is a drone, the string furthest from the hand hole is used to play the first note of the scale.
The bow need to be moved parallel to the bridge and trying always to bow the drone sting and bass or melody string in a sort of of bouncing movement. The jouhikko only has a range of six notes. You can change the note by stopping with the back of your fingers (traditional way) or with the inside of the fingers if you place your handover the first string (melody) in order to be able to change the drone with the knucles (for intermediate players). It takes some time and practise to play the notes relaibly in tune, and also the instrument tend to come out of tune quite easily, so it helps that you have a good ear and get fast enough with the microtuners (a recommendation if you purchase this instrument)
Most Jouhikkos are in D key (with a tuning of D - A - E (being D the bass, A the drone and E second note on the scale). In alto jouhikko (A - E - B) You can play typically a major and minor scale. As you can see in the following video showing you the basics of how to play the jouhikko by performer Pekko Käppi.
Above: Video explaining how to play scales in the jouhikko
If you purchase it from Ancient Music , it comes with a little print brochure in english called "introduction to the Jouhikko" written in english with the basics to keep and start to play your instrument. Though brief, it´s consistent and carry quite a lot of information and background.
The actual reference to learn to play this instrument is The Bowed Lyre Book is a visual guide and tutorial book written by Rauno Nieminen
Above: Book: The Bowed Lyre Jouhikko
Written in Finnish on one side and clear English on the other. The book has the history, playing and setting up guide for the It includes a cd of rare archive recordings of the last players of the old tradition in Estonia, recorded on wax cylinder/phongraphs, though old and scratchy in sound in combination with the included written notation it provides much information.The book is available from Finland through the Finnish Music institute (37 Eur + shipping) or you can read more info from Rauno's website:
For beginners (as myself) I also highly recommend to visit this Jouhikko website, though it's in finnish you can easily use an online translator, and it has even some videos and lessons of basic traditional jouhikko music as example, as well as explanations about the history and the instrument parts and construction. You can even play "online" the jouhikko in the website interface :) to understand how it works and videos to play the same melody in different styles with examples.
Above: How to hold the jouhikko bow (explained this jouhikko website). You can add a bit of pressure with the thumb to make the string of the bow tighter. Remember always to put rosin on your bow before playing (to avoid scratchy sound)
I confess I never had experience with bowed string instruments before... and I did know it was going to be complicated but though it's quite difficult to evolve fast (at least for me) it's rather easy to get started and this is quite encouraging. Gerry Henkel from kantele.com that also had made some jouhikkos himself told me... that they are like a horse that need some taming and that the jouhikko finally decides to sing for you itself. And he's right. There´s something really ancient and earthy and and primitive n the way these horse strings sound somehow rather dense like a rudimentary viola. Nothing as clean and polished as a violin but indeed a sound of other times settling in nordic folk music.
Jouhikkos are in the midst of a potent revival in Finland and is being incorporated in modern bands as well (including me LOL!)
You can read more information in the Jouhikko wikipedia article
- Finnish site about the Jouhikko
- Finnish Jouhikko maker
- Estonian Jouhikko maker
- Eric and Corwen English Jouhikko maker
- Russian Jouhikko maker
- More info on Simon Chadwick's Jouhikko with photos, audio and video demonstration
- Rauno Nieminen's official website
Above: My kantele (made by kantele.com) and my alto Jouhikko (It works well tuning it to G, A or Bb Key) (from Corwen Ancient Instruments) , a pretty couple of traditional finnish instruments. High D jouhikkos are the most commonly found.
Huge and rather rare looking... a mix of retro and futuristic design the Paetzold recorders ( Paetzold Bassblockflöten) are one of the largest recorders ever made with an unusual appearance and a deep sound, made in 4 parts the keys are made of flat pieces of wood. And inspired in organ pipes, the tube has an "S" and not straight allowing a longer column of air.
There are different versions going from Bass, to Sub-bass and contrabass model. A visual explanation and description is shown in the video below:
In this site you can see how these recorder fingering works
The range of Paetzold square bass recorders is the same as standard bass recorders approximately two octaves (A-440). Four sizes are now available a bass (new) in f, a greatbass in c (an octave below a tenor), a contrabass if F (one octave below Even on the lowest bottom notes, is very strong, in contrast to many other maker's low instruments. The instruments speak easily over the full two-octave range. Articulation is quick and light. They all have double keys for the bottom two notes. A hard case and a stand is available for each instrument. Although they are indeed not cheap a square bass recorder can be half the price of a traditional bass recorder, and we don't need to say that there are also larger models than can go lower in tone.
The waiting time for delivery is two to four months.
If you want to know more or simply purchase one I recommend you the german site that is specialized in Paetzold recorders from the maker Herbert Paetzold
Where to buy one:
As first point to see as I said check Herbert´s site at http://www.alte-musik.info.
If you're based in Europe you can buy one for example from some big music stores Thomann.de (based in Germany) they sell to several countries in the continen. There you can get a Paetzold contrabass recorder available from Thomann.de store ( Subbass recorder ) F in 3 parts, a'=442 Hz, chromatically playable over 2 octaves , square construction, size: 152 cm, height of the air column ca. 175 cm, birch plywood, 2 pitch plates, incl. case, normally played whilst seated.
From England you can purchase it from The Early music Store
These recorders are now distributed in the US by the Boulder Early Music Shop
The sound indeed is very deep and somehow even mystic, and a lot of effects can be done including beatboxing making all sorts of unusual sounds.
In this youtube video you can dive into the deep sound of this recorders
The Aquaggaswack is an odd music instrument with an equally odd and difficult to spell name. This interesting musical instrument was first made as mentioned by Curtis Settino, being composed of a medley of unique household instruments, all hung from a framework of metal galvanized plumbing pipes in a way easy to assemble and break down into pieces to be easy to transport.. First version was built in1996 and it was featured in an issue of Experimental Musical Instruments back in December of 1998. A good example of how to create music recycling materials.
The first version of the Aquaggaswack dated in 1996 was narrower and only had 18 pot lids and no outer sections. The second and improved version was made in 1998, with 29 pot lids representing a majority of the notes in an octave, plus some quarter-tones. The center lids have mostly "bell"-like tones and the outer sets have a more "gong"-like tone. All the lids were obtained from thrift stores and friends and can be played with mallets, sticks and brushes. At various times both versions of the Aquaggaswack also included a cymbal, jingle bells, a cowbell with clacker and a mine cylinder
In Spain is currently known as "Carrillón de tapaderos" and you can read some guidelines about how to make your own one in this article (Spanish)
And if you are wondering about how it sounds like... and looks like in action you can watch the following video.