Richard Waters and the eerie sound of the WATERPHONE
Yes, you've listened to it... but most of you don't know how it's called, or how it looks.
strange isn't it?
I used to be a soundtrack collector and the waterphone eerie spooky haunted moan has always been used in horror and mysterious movie scores... I can recall right now for example "Poltergeist" by Jerry Goldsmith (+). Goldsmith used to include it a lot in moments of suspense and tension.
The Waterphone was invented and is patented by Richard Waters (pat.#3896696). Each instrument is unique and made to order. Richard personally makes, tunes, signs and dates each Waterphone. The sound of the Waterphone has been compared to the haunting melodies of the Humpback Whale and voices from inner/outer space. Waterphones have been described as acoustic synthesizers, Waterharps, a musical “Aladdin's Lamp”, and “Whalephones”. Waterphones are in fact stainless steel and bronze monolithic, one-of-a-kind, acoustic, tonal-friction instruments that utilize water in the interior of their resonators to bend tones and create water echos. In the world family of musical instruments, the Waterphone is between a Tibetian Water Drum, an African Kalimba (thumb piano) and a 16th century Peg or Nail Violin.He custom makes each one using a hot metal process developed over the past 40 years. The tonal rods are tuned to a combination of micro-tonal and diatonic relationships presented in two distinct but intergrated scales having both even and uneven increments.. Read the "history of the waterphone" from its inventor.
Video demonstratoin of the MEGABASS WATERPHONE. I fell in love with the possibilities of sounds it can create with the bow, with mallets or simply rubbing the base of the instrument... It's haunting.
One beautiful way to see all the possibilities this instrument can create is to purchase a CD from Richard´s site (which by the way also list other rare instrumnents he crafts). I have
So I want badly a Waterphone, Richard has a waiting list, my recommendation is IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY, don't trick yourself, go for the REAL THING, there´s nothing like a REAL WATERPHONE, and Richard´s the owner of the patent of the instrument, the other are "imitations". Still the standard waterphone production is discontinued and the basic waterphone now on sale is the megabass that costs around 1500 dollars plus shipping. And he has also two more advanced and expensive models. Does it worth? I tell you if I had the money I wouldn't consider to get anything but an original, after all Richard is the inventor of the instrument and he won't make them forever so they will have in the future an artistic and historical value... but well if you can't wait, let´s´face the fact also that for a real waterphone you'll have to wait quite a while, as each one is handcrafted. Still be in tune for some sales he may have of already to ship or second hands (make sure you're not tricked!!)
So I want badly a Waterphone, Richard usually has a waiting list, and my recommendation is IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY, don't trick yourself, go for the REAL THING, there´s nothing like a REAL WATERPHONE, and Richard´s the owner of the patent of the instrument, the other are "imitations". Still the old Standard waterphone production has been discontinued and the new advanced waterphone now on sale is the Megabass that costs around 1500 dollars plus shipping. And he has also two more smaller and less expensive models. Is it worth it? I tell you if I had the money I wouldn't consider to get anything but an original, after all Richard is the inventor of the instrument and he won't make them forever so they will have in the future an artistic and historical value... but well if you can't wait, let´s´face the fact also that for a real waterphone you may have to wait a while, as each one is handcrafted by Richard. But check him out as he may have one ready to ship or a second hand (make sure you're not tricked!!) as the imitations do not sound nearly as good
There are similar things to the waterphone, one was the Ocean Harp that sells in Lark in the Morning but it´s currently sold out and I ignore when it will be back in stock. Still it was an "inspired by the waterphone" not real waterphone in Ebay you can also find a company that sells two models of an instrument similar to the waterphone called the Aquasonic Standard and Aquasonic supermondo. They're not cheap, but around half of the price of the waterphone. I don't know what to say. Though I'd love to have one of this, I feel it would be like a lovely item while you "wait" for one of Richard´s or if you use it to travel a lot for stage use. Still you can find them here in Ebay.
Above: Aquasonic Standard, and Aquasonic supermondo.
It this isn´t an option for you and you happen to be a synthetizer there is one last option which is to purchase the VIRTUAL INSTRUMENT samples. Tonehammer have made this for just 69$ (we´ll be covering VSTs individual entries soon) in a collection called WATER HARP VST. with 2,903 samples and 59 different articulations, divided into two main categories and also the instrument recorded in different ambiences. Of course this is not as cool on stage...!! and waterphones are indeed strange pieces of art, but might do for you, and I think it's the most valuable and cheapest option. Maybe go for this rather than purchasing a fake non tuned waterphone as there are a lot of replicas that are no good.
Richard Waters also recently added a SAMPLER option for Kontakt too in his site called "Uncharted Waters" for only 15$ which by the way helps Richard to keep his site.
But I tell you one thing... one day. I'll have a REAL waterphone!....