Odd Musicical Instruments

First Posted January 1, 2005
Updated April 4, 2013

    Well, this web page is here because I am embarking on some new and strange musical instruments.  Well, maybe not all that strange, but different.  I have two projects planned.  The first one is a set of Midi Chimes.  This will be a set of chimes that can be controlled via a Midi interface.  Making chimes is not at all easy.  I have some metal tubing on order as we speak so I can experiment further with tuning the tubes.  Also, the striker is going to be a minor challenge all by itself.

    The second project is going to be a PVC Pipe Organ.  Tuning the tubes for this is going to be much easier, but still a challenge, compared to the chimes.  The most difficult part is going to be making the valve for letting air into the pipe.  Comercial solenoid valves cost up to $250 each.  Surplus ones can be had, but finding the right one for the job is difficult.  I am going to see what it might take to make my own valves.  Anothe challenge is going to be the air pump.

    Now a posible third project has to do with the picture below.  That frame is from the Disney Snow White cartoon.  I remember when I first saw this film a long time ago I was completely fascinated with the little flappers that would cover the holes in the pipe.  Now, there is one minor problem here.  That instrument, as shown, could not posibly work.  But that isn't going to stop me.  I think I know a good work around.  My plan is to basically make 6 recorders (old english flute) that are identical.  These will be activated just like I plan to activate the PVC Pipe Organ pipes.  A set of solenoids will also control the little flaps that will cover the tone holes.  Now, keep in mind that each recorder is a one note at a time instrument.  This mean that it will be just like a polyphonic synthesizer, which is really just a collection of monophonic synths that use a microprocessor to control which one plays when a note on commnad is recieved.  So, while it may be imposible to build the instrument that Grumpy is sitting at, I should be able to come up with something that captures the spirit...

Believe it or not, I shot this picture off my TV....

April 4, 2013

    It has been many years, but I am thinking about this.  I am still concentraing on the pipes.  I am trying to figure out the best way to construct the pipes out of wood.  They are going to basically be recorders.  Mine are not going to look quite as organic as the ones in the movie, but at least they will be made out of wood.  Finding information on how to tune recorders has been problematic.  It seems that the hole spacing seems to be some closely guarded secret.  Also, boring a long hole though the wood is going to be a bit of a challenge.  I hope to start making practice pipes soon out of cheap wood.  I am planing to make the pipe out of multiple piecies of word so if I get hole locations wrong, I can always just make a new piece.  I want to put a piece of dowle in the hole that also has a hole in it so I can carve it to look like pursed lips.  If you look closely, you will see this.  The carving is what is going to take a long time, and now that I have next to no vision, well, that could be "fun".

Feb 13, 2005

    Well, today I built my first whistle for the "pipe" organ.  I was surprised at how little air it took to make a tone.  It is made out of just an ordinary piece of PVC pipe, with a cap on the end.  I filed the whistle hole with my handy dandy bastard file.  The wood plug I turned on my lathe and then milled in my milling machine.  I will epoxy the plug into the pipe, but to test it I just pushed it in (it is a slip fit), and blew...and to my surprise, it made sound.

Picture of whistle:

    On the left, is the whistle body, in the center, the plug that goes in the blow end, and on the right, is the form for a solenoid that will control the air flow, eventually.  It would seem I should be able to use a squirel cage fan to supply the air for these....