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Necessary Fictophones

Since the taxonomical work of Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs* in the early twentieth century, organologists have classified musical instruments into four major categories, each distinguished by its primary sound-producing mechanism: idiophones (vibrating body), membranophones (vibrating membrane), chordophones (vibrating strings) and aerophones (vibrating air columns). Beyond these basic divisions, scholars have proposed such logically consistent additions as electrophones (for electronic instruments) and corpophones (for the human body as a source of sound). We propose a seventh category: fictophones, for imaginary musical instruments. Existing as diagrams, drawings or written descriptions, these devices never produce a sound. Yet they are no less a part of musical culture for that. Indeed, fictophones represent an essential if hitherto unrecognized domain of musical thought and activity, and it is in order to catalog these conceptual artifacts that we have established the first institution of its kind: The Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments.
posted by carsonb on Mar 5, 2014 - 19 comments

Coolest Music in the World

Siberian Ice Drumming. 'I felt like we were playing on the drums that Nature has left out for us, alone under the sun on the frozen waters of the world's most magnificent lake.'
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 2, 2013 - 4 comments

A Short History of Modern Music, One Instrument at a Time

Collective Cadenza (CDZA) has been releasing musical histories of the guitar solo, the drums, the accordion, and the bass. [more inside]
posted by holmesian on Nov 21, 2013 - 12 comments

The dawn of an era, available and emulated in your browser to play.

A few months ago there was a list of links to classic video game emulators posted. Very recently, I'm pleased to report, those links all came true. The Internet Archive bespoke upon aforementioned consoles, computers, and mileposts on our way to the tech utopia of today, (seriously, where's my flying car?) and they asked us to do something: Imagine every computer that ever existed, literally, in your browser. And it was so. I have absolutely no affiliation with jscott, btw. Thought I should disclose that.
posted by jdaura on Oct 25, 2013 - 37 comments

Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer

How Inventor Paul Vo Created a Little Black Box That Could Change Guitars Forever
posted by kliuless on Apr 20, 2013 - 41 comments

#13 - business in the front, party in the back

Nikolaij Lund is a cellist and a photographer who takes whimsical portraits of classical musicians. [more inside]
posted by quin on Aug 17, 2012 - 13 comments

"its all you can do with them, since theres no money anymore."

Composer Dr. Richard Eigner put together a group of musicians to jam on a bunch of improvised instruments made out of credit cards. slyt via andrewsullivan
posted by andoatnp on Jul 11, 2012 - 10 comments

The Electric Web Matrix

DIY Audio, DIY Electronics, DIY Guitar, DIY Synthesizers, DIY Recording. Fundamentals of audio. Optimize your Mac for audio. Build a music server. How vacuum tubes work. Tour a brass instrument factory. How to maintain your clarinet, trumpet, flute, saxophone, guitar. All this and much, much more at THE ELECTRIC WEB MATRIX.
posted by HumanComplex on Apr 12, 2012 - 17 comments

Two bits of wood bolted together

Fender Factory Tour 1959 - Leo Fender in the second shot. Freddie Tavares at 7:26. A day when "everything was done by hand... It is amazing to realize that every guitar made that year is now worth a small fortune." The 1959-63 era Stratocaster is called one of the 50 guitars to play before you die. (via the q-ster)
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 27, 2012 - 15 comments

Instruments from the Inside

Näher an der Klassik (Closer to the Classical) is an advertising campaign for the Berlin Philharmonic which features macro photographs that turn the inner spaces of musical instruments into lovely, cathedral-like spaces.
posted by quin on Mar 23, 2012 - 9 comments

A trombone to pick

When script guru John August, writer of films such as Big Fish and Go, posted a fairly casual post advocating teaching children piano and guitar over certain woodwind instruments, the response was fairly heated and resulted in Mr. August putting his blog on a comment holiday.
posted by smithsmith on Dec 12, 2011 - 106 comments

Hornlets and hornlings.

Specimen products is the workshop of Ian Schneller, a Chicago-based sculptor-turned-luthier. His site is worth a look if you are interested in unusual guitars and other stringed instruments (like this electic lute), eccentric amplifiers and speakers, or extreme guitar repair. Currently Schneller is collaberating with musician Andrew Bird on Sonic Arboretum, a musical perfomance/installation piece. Here is video of a performance at the Guggenheim in 2010, and a slideshow of the preparations for an upcoming performance at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.
posted by gamera on Dec 1, 2011 - 9 comments

Instruments Online

If you want to read about the history, construction, sounds and playing techniques of, say, the tympani, or any other instruments of the classical symphonic orchestra, Vienna Symphonic Library's Instruments Online pages are good reading and a handy resource for orchestrators.
posted by Wolfdog on Sep 30, 2011 - 4 comments

The Mushroom Man of Boston, MA

Ben Maleson, a second-generation mycoforager, plays the trumpet mushroom.
posted by overeducated_alligator on Aug 18, 2011 - 15 comments

Crystalline chimes.

Behold, the Gameleste! Custom built per Björk's concept & specifications, playable like a celeste, but designed with the heart of a gamelan, completely programmable using a standard MIDI input, capable of playing pieces that a standard human simply couldn't perform. Featured prominently on "Crystalline", the first track available from the upcoming 'Biophilia'.
posted by markkraft on Jul 3, 2011 - 30 comments

Steinberger instruments

The most famous Steinberger design is the L-series instrument... made entirely of the Steinberger Blend, a proprietary graphite and carbon fiber mix in two pieces: the main body and a faceplate. It had no headstock for tuning, tuning instead at a redesigned tailpiece using micrometer-style tuners and special strings with a ball at both ends.
posted by Trurl on May 13, 2011 - 43 comments

It's a finglonger, obviously

The NIST Digital Archives is an online collection of scientific instruments from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. But even the experts don't always know what it is they've got, and they'd like your help. Any idea what you're supposed to do with Eight Dials Set in a Wooden Frame? How about Metal Instrument in Wood Case?
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 14, 2011 - 20 comments

Free, High-Quality Musical Instrument Samples

Do you need a free library of high-quality, carefully-recorded samples of a wide variety of musical instruments? The University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios' Musical Instrument Samples page has got you covered, from alto flute to violin. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Mar 31, 2011 - 32 comments

Custom Electronic Instruments

folktek do beautiful things with sound and sculpture that are so unique as to defy description
posted by mhjb on Dec 20, 2010 - 10 comments

Explorations of a Recreational Mathematician

Let's say you're me and you're in math class, and you're supposed to be learning about factoring. Trouble is, your teacher is too busy trying to convince you that factoring is a useful skill for the average person to know with real-world applications ranging from passing your state exams all the way to getting a higher SAT score and unfortunately does not have the time to show you why factoring is actually interesting. It's perfectly reasonable for you to get bored in this situation. So like any reasonable person, you start doodling. [more inside]
posted by ErWenn on Dec 3, 2010 - 27 comments

Neil Peart never needed all that shit

Plastica, covering some of your favorites - on toy instruments. Metallica, Rush and a decent stab at Dream Theater.
posted by lifeless on Aug 17, 2010 - 19 comments

Instruments for Natural Philosophy

Instruments for Natural Philosophy
posted by carsonb on Apr 6, 2010 - 10 comments

Got a push broom? Here's some Beethoven.

Atrapa-sons, an amusing and educational television show from TV3 Catalonia in Spain, entertains you with musical numbers creatively composed using ordinary household objects, including rakes, potatoes, surgical gloves, forearm crutches, and brooms. Grab some pots and spoons and join in!
posted by jeanmari on Nov 26, 2009 - 6 comments

10 Magnificently Modern Musical Instruments

10 Magnificently Modern Musical Instruments
posted by Joe Beese on Nov 18, 2009 - 47 comments

Vegetable musical instruments

Ever wanted to play a white radish like a flute? Or maybe a carrot clarinet? Or perhaps a cucumber trumpet?
posted by scarello on Nov 17, 2008 - 22 comments

pretty pickings

20 pretty painted guitars. (via Nag on the Lake) [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Sep 6, 2008 - 12 comments

Oddstrument

Oddstrument is a blog about unusual musical instruments and other interesting acoustic technologies.
posted by Upton O'Good on Aug 28, 2008 - 15 comments

Listen Explore Discover Create

SoundJunction is all about music. You can take music apart and find out how it works, create music yourself, find out how other people make music and how they perform it, you can learn about musical instruments and voices, and look at the backgrounds of different musical styles. Over 40 musicians talk on film about their experiences. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Aug 21, 2008 - 3 comments

If you like a ukulele lady, a ukulele lady like-a you

"Tained Love" on ukulele. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Jan 31, 2008 - 62 comments

No, not THAT kind of baloon organ...

Surely this must be a double, right? I mean, you've got this great and strange program, Addi's Inflatable Minute, and this incredibly strange but somewhat haunting instrument and its all in one You Tube Link? People don't actually make this sort of content in real life, do they?
posted by Ogre Lawless on Jan 11, 2008 - 30 comments

A Resource For and About Songwriters

The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource is the place for songwriting tips, tools, interactivities and connecting with other songwriters around the world. See the section about musical instruments or get into the guitar player's guide. Start communicating with other musicians and songwriters in the forums and check out the music reviews. Lots to do, see, hear, learn, and most of all, enjoy.
posted by netbros on Aug 22, 2007 - 10 comments

Virtual Band

I've been wowing my colleagues by creating beautiful music from words from my head.
posted by tellurian on Jun 28, 2007 - 34 comments

Rock Stars, Guitars n' More

Oh, but it's much more than just guitars. How about a John Lennon set list from 1974? Maybe Bon Scott's tour jacket is more your thing. Me? I want the Mr. Big tour cases because they're in mint/hardly used condition.
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Apr 3, 2007 - 12 comments

Correct.

Now spell "angel"! A Texas Instruments "Speak n Spell" simulator.
posted by Jimbob on Jan 30, 2007 - 28 comments

Sounds from all around

If you're interested in musical instruments from all over the world, Wesleyan University's Virtual Instrument Museum should not be missed. Instruments are searchable by type (idiophones, aerophones, etc.), by materials (wood, bamboo, etc.), or by geographic region. The photos are very good, and many instruments are represented by excellent MP3 audio clips. And the exhibits (QTVR movies: drag your mouse to see the instrument from all angles) are wonderful.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 25, 2006 - 11 comments

Historical medical instruments

Phisick - Beautifully presented historical medical instruments. Check out the French Nasal Rectificateur. Take a look these ear trumpets too: 1, 2, 3, 4. [Click on the images in the top strip for alternate views and close-ups]
posted by tellurian on Aug 18, 2006 - 19 comments

Art of the Plastic Brick

Henry Lim composes sonatas and film scores. He also has a serious thing for Lego. The Hepburn portrait, Natalie Portman portrait, Beethoven and Fab Four portraits are impressive enough, but it is the full size, fully playable Harpsichord that demonstrates some kind of heroism. (mp3 included- to be listened to only once, really, or not even that.)
posted by IndigoJones on Jul 26, 2006 - 15 comments

The Woodwork Artistry of Philippe Guillerm

Philippe Guillerm is a woodworker whose art is comprised of various classical string instruments in whimsical, almost anthropomorphized positions
posted by jonson on May 27, 2006 - 7 comments

Electric guru: Les Paul at 90

"Now I need to take a piece of wood and make it sound like the railroad track, but I also had to make it beautiful and lovable so that a person playing it would think of it in terms of his mistress, a bartender, his wife, a good psychiatrist." Les Paul interview and his recent 90th birthday celebration. via Kill Ugly Radio. (more...)
posted by madamjujujive on Jun 18, 2005 - 12 comments

Exotic performing electronic music instruments

Dewanatron : a family of electronic instruments ‘which hazard unpredictable behaviors and self playing tendencies.’ See, for example, the Alphatron, the Dual-Primate Console, and the Courtesy Modulator. Besides his work as an instrument- and furniture-maker, the Dewanatrons’ co-creator, Brian Dewan, is a musician and singer who has collaborated with They Might Be Giants, among others. He is also a visual artist, who has created numerous filmstrips, and who was responsible for the ‘flying victrola’ design for the the Neutral Milk Hotel album ‘In The Aeroplane Over the Sea.’
posted by misteraitch on Apr 21, 2005 - 9 comments

Uke gotta see these!

Are they ukuleles, or are they books? Think Joseph Cornell goes Hawaiian.
posted by scody on Feb 22, 2005 - 8 comments

Dance to the Beat of a Homemade Drummer

The piatarbajo, the chromelodeon, the trimba, cloud chamber bowls, the simeon, the pyrophone, the virtual rhythmicon, cigar box guitars, the skatar, and all the other assorted instruments by musical visionaries who find guitar, bass, drums, and the symphony orchestra too confining.
posted by jonp72 on Sep 23, 2004 - 10 comments

Too many tear drops

Banned by the Vatican and created by a tone deaf engineer... presenting the Hammond.
posted by drezdn on Aug 30, 2004 - 20 comments

Inventions for music

Radel Electronics Pvt. Ltd.: electronic musical instruments for Indian music.
posted by Quartermass on Aug 25, 2004 - 6 comments

a series of expressions

120 Years of Electronic Music. Electronic musical instruments 1870 -1990.
posted by the fire you left me on Jul 10, 2004 - 12 comments

Vintage resonator instruments.

Notecannons. An online pictorial history of National brand stringed instruments from 1920 - present.
posted by eastlakestandard on Mar 26, 2004 - 3 comments

Rauschpfeife!

Musica Antiqua: A Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments. Complete with both .wav and .mp3 samples.
posted by Ufez Jones on Mar 12, 2004 - 9 comments

Antique Scientific Instruments

A long list of links related to all aspects of the history of scientific instruments, such as sundials, slide rules, and pocket compasses.
posted by carter on Aug 24, 2003 - 5 comments

Optigan: OPTIcal orGAN

The Optigan: OPTIcal orGAN. Long before synthesizers, ProTools, and Cubase, Mattel released a bizarre contraption called the 'Optigan' which operated by assigning each key to a track on an optical disc on which were recorded sounds of real instruments playing every individual note. This site is one guy's obsession with the instrument that may well be dead and forgotten if not for him. Check out his mp3s of his own, reasonably successful, band based around the instrument, to see how it sounds.
posted by wackybrit on Jun 30, 2003 - 18 comments

Oddmusic

Oddmusic is for anyone interested in unique, unusual, ethnic, or experimental music and instruments, according to the site. The gallery is full of strange instruments - some are beautiful, some are whimsical, and some are just silly. Many have samples to listen to, including the noisy-but-impressive Lego Harpsichord.
posted by ukamikanasi on Jun 24, 2003 - 9 comments

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