Hand Crank Marble Machine

low-tech music“The Wintergartan Marble Machine, built by Swedish musician Martin Molin and filmed by Hannes Knutsson, is a hand-made music box that powers a kick drum, bass, vibraphone and other instruments using a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.”

Read more at Wired: Wintergatan’s ‘Marble Machine’ makes music with 2,000 marbles.

21st Century Craftsmen: Winne Clement, Flutemaker

winne clement

The fujara is a long 3-holed fipple flute played in standing position with the flute held close to the body. It’s played using the natural harmonics system, which means the different tones are played by controlling the strength of inblown air. Using only three holes, the diatonic major scale can be reached playing two and a half octaves. Due to the natural harmonics the tuning will always be a compromise, but Belgian flutemaker and musician Winne Clement puts a great deal of effort in tuning and balancing the tones, in such a way that playing together with Western tuned instruments is possible.

All his flutes are made of harvested branches of local inland wood such as ash, elder, maple, hazle, etc. The wood is carefully chosen and cut in winter time – with respect for the environment, not damaging the donating trees – and put to dry for a long period of time. When making the flute the wood is never split in half to hollow it out, but hand-drilled with special old forged drills, leaving the main structure of the wood intact, benefiting the sound, and following the natural curves of the wood. No Tech Magazine visits Winne Clement in his studio in Ghent, where he explains us his tools and methods. [Read more…]

Change Ringing

Despite the curtailing of their liturgical uses, at the beginning of the seventeenth century a lot of church bells remained hanging in church towers. Ringing them was an activity pursued with great enthusiasm, often by groups of boozy young men. Paul Hentzner, a German lawyer who traveled through England in the final years of the sixteenth century, wrote that the English were “vastly fond of great noises that fill the ear, such as the firing of cannon, drums, and the ringing of bells, so that it is common for a number of them, that have got a glass in their heads, to go up into some belfry, and ring the bells for hours together for the sake of exercise.”

It was in these long, beer-fuelled ringing sessions that change ringing was invented, as a codification of the disorganized ringing that Hentzner describes. It seems to have started in London and southeast England in the early seventeenth century; it spread, and by the 1660s was a fashionable recreation, with societies springing up all over south, central, and eastern England to further the practice.

St Mary-le-Tower Bellringers

[Read more…]

Low-Tech Music: One String Guitar

Brushy One String – Chicken in The Corn (Official Video). Hat tip to Sara.

Homemade Musical Instruments

Homemade musical instruments Moonmilk.com has, among other things, a great collection of extremely low-tech (and rather unconventional) electronic and acoustic musical instruments online. Most are built from scrap materials. Particularly geeky (and comparatively sophisticated) is the pixelated violin, which comes with building plans. Via WeWasteTime.

Cardboard Box Bass

Cardboard bass “The ‘Bogdon Box Bass’ represents a reduction of technology and the simplification of needs. By demonstrating that a quality sound can be achieved by using unconventional material components at an extremely low cost, a cardboard bass guitar places the least demand on resource technology and encourages people to shift their preconceptions about the ‘typical novice instrument’.

Cardboard is not a traditional product material, however the introduction of innovative bonding, cutting and structural techniques has provided the opportunity to consider this lightweight and recyclable material in a more creative fashion. Works with or without an amplifier.”

Available as a do-it-yourself kit or fully assembled at Bogdon Music (no free plans). More information on the construction of the instrument here. Related: Shovelman & One string guitar.

Shovelman

Shovelman

Low-tech guitar by Shovelman. More at myspace.