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Glass trombone
July 11, 2008 3:37 PM   Subscribe

The making of a glass trombone.

Apparently, they also made a tuba, but heck if I can find a link. Glass instruments previously on Metafilter.
posted by Upton O'Good (33 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
A story about relating the witnessing of the making of a glass squirrel.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:44 PM on July 11, 2008


What about a rusty trombone? Anything on how to make one of those?
posted by Scoo at 3:50 PM on July 11, 2008


Really cool. What was that in the guy's mouth? Just smoking a pipe?
posted by zardoz at 4:02 PM on July 11, 2008


Nothing improves glass instrument making like pipes and epic music.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:04 PM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Does it shatter if Ella Fitzgerald starts singing?
posted by ...possums at 4:04 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've often thought that the only problem with brass instruments is the opacity of the spit-valve.

Seriously though, this is really cool, and somehow the orchestral version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood just makes it that much better.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2008


Stay tuned next week for "The making of a glass spit-valve."
posted by adamrice at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2008


curse you navelgazer!
posted by adamrice at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2008


Really cool. What was that in the guy's mouth? Just smoking a pipe?

It's an air tube he uses to blow air into the glass to exert pressure on the inside, either to expand the meling glass or to maintain it's shape when it's under some outer pressure. There's something like a pipe mouthpiece on the end of it.

I used to watch the glassblower in our chemistry department when he was working glass. He had this strange kind of chewing motion on the endpiece, too. I don't know if that's part of the technique they all learn or if it's just a common tic glassblowers pick up from having the airtube in their teeth all the time.

Cool trombone. It reminds me of one of my favorite musical instruments, the glass harmonica.
posted by darkstar at 4:40 PM on July 11, 2008


Nøtaded as wønderful.

Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?

See the løveli lakes

The wonderful telephøne system

And mani interesting glass trombønes...
posted by Kinbote at 4:41 PM on July 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


D'oh, more links to the glass harmonica in Upton's "previously" link, above.
posted by darkstar at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2008


Amazing that we have this technology now that allows us to watch the greenish phlegm of a grizzled trombone player inching its way around the loops and curves.
posted by tinkertown at 4:59 PM on July 11, 2008


Wow, talk about an instrument you do NOT want to send as checked baggage on your next flight!

And thanks for linking back to my glass (h)armonica post, Upton.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:22 PM on July 11, 2008


See also: Harry Partch's wonderful cloud chamber bowls.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2008


Evidently, it was hard to get the slide tubes parallel and even, as you can hear them scraping a little in the linked video, even though the player never gets much beyond 5th position, and they appear to have been heavily lubricated. And although it is hard to judge from the audio, I can't imagine something as thick and comparatively stiff as Pyrex (if the flask the glassblower started with was normal lab glass Pyrex) is going to make for a sound rich with harmonic overtones.

Still, as a conceptual piece, great!
posted by paulsc at 5:43 PM on July 11, 2008


Am I going mad or is that a big band arrangement of the 1984 UK hit Two Tribes by popular New Wave combo, Frankie Goes To Hollywood playing in the background of the tuba video?

I'm mildly perturbed by this.
posted by xchmp at 6:24 PM on July 11, 2008


From the glass harmonica link:

"Where are you from?"

(unintelligible)

"Where are you from? Taiwan?"

(nodding)

"Okay, how'd you like a Chinese song?"

*Faux Pas...*
posted by Navelgazer at 6:28 PM on July 11, 2008


The A-Team would KILL for a montage with those production values.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:45 PM on July 11, 2008


This video was a pile of win.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:59 PM on July 11, 2008


godDAMN that was exciting!
posted by From Bklyn at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2008


"Play" those awesome cloud chamber bowls that flapjack at midnight mentioned!
posted by donovan at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's some nifty precision glassblowing.

It's a damned shame the audio quality was so poor - I want to hear how it sounds!

/wants to pick up a trombone from a pawn shop and get my chops back
posted by porpoise at 11:35 PM on July 11, 2008


Nice find, donovan!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:28 AM on July 12, 2008


That was cool. But it would have been cooler if I hadn't confused trumpets with trombones. Again...
posted by twine42 at 12:35 AM on July 12, 2008


Am I going mad or is that a big band arrangement of the 1984 UK hit Two Tribes by popular New Wave combo, Frankie Goes To Hollywood playing in the background of the tuba video?

Nope, you're not going mad - that's indeed what it is. I was wondering why on earth they picked that as background music for the video, but then the trombones started playing the vocal line. I guess it was the most exciting "trombone" music they could find.
posted by awfurby at 2:04 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


The soundtrack to that video was ridiculous. I love watching glassblowers work. For a while some years ago, PBS showed a documentary about Dale Chihuly's workshop, like twice a day. I would watch it anytime it happened to be on, over and over. There's something about it looking so fluid, then cooling for like a minute, and all of a sudden, they break a piece off. It's awesome.

Evidently, it was hard to get the slide tubes parallel and even, as you can hear them scraping a little in the linked video

I wondered about that paulsc. That seemed to be the biggest challenge. Great post!
posted by bluefly at 4:49 AM on July 12, 2008


I guess it was the most exciting "trombone" music they could find.

They should've looked a little harder.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 AM on July 12, 2008


I remember reading that one one glassmaker - maybe Holmegaard in Denmark - had a glass orchestra that toured. But a link eludes me.
posted by scruss at 5:28 AM on July 12, 2008


I wanna hear him play the Bourgeois trombone concerto on that thing. Bet its got a sweet low-end rumble.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:16 AM on July 12, 2008


And although it is hard to judge from the audio, I can't imagine something as thick and comparatively stiff as Pyrex (if the flask the glassblower started with was normal lab glass Pyrex) is going to make for a sound rich with harmonic overtones.

Don't be so sure — apparently a flute made of concrete is not easily distinguishable from a wooden one.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2008


"Don't be so sure — apparently a flute made of concrete is not easily distinguishable from a wooden one."
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:56 AM on July 12

Short A/B comparisons are notoriously poor ways of comparing sound sources. Due to the human hearing preference for volume, even small differences in loudness tend to trump tonal qualities, for most listeners, which is one reason commercial recordings have been caught in an escalating compression "war" in the last 10 years.

The German trombone maker Schmelzer says:
"The different tone color is produced by the form of the bells, partly by the material, the differences in the wall thicknesses, as well as by the drilling and form of the mouthpiece. It is this knowledge which creates the character of a mature and high-quality wind instrument."
I'll grant that bore and mouthpiece dimensions probably have more to do with the "sound" of a brass instrument than tube materials in most of the piping, but once you get to the bell, materials and thickness do make a difference. The French horn is a unique example of the sensitivity of brass horns to bell loadings, where even a slight change of position of the bell hand is enough to materially shift the timbre of the horn and influence even the pitch stability a player achieves.
posted by paulsc at 10:17 AM on July 12, 2008


A little Beethoven, on wine glasses.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 PM on July 12, 2008


Or maybe they could have used 76 Trombones...
posted by awfurby at 9:35 PM on July 12, 2008


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