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The Sound Da Vinci Invented, but Never Heard

Leonardo Da Vinci is well known as a man who invented many things on paper that never found their way into three-dimensional reality. Some would later prove to be unworkable in reality. Others would later prove to be potentially life-saving. But not all of Da Vinci's inventions were of a practical nature. Consider his plans for the viola organista, a keyboard instrument containing a system of revolving wheels, strings and other machinery to create a kind of cello that can be played with a keyboard. Never constructed in Da Vinci's lifetime, the inventor himself could only imagine what it would actually sound like. We no longer have to imagine that. [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Nov 18, 2013 - 43 comments

Turning Weapons Into Instruments

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes newest project "Disarm" consists of robotic musical instruments made out of dismantled firearms which were confiscated by the authorities. It is a follow-up to his previous piece "Imagine". [via]
posted by quin on Sep 16, 2013 - 2 comments

Tiny Piano? Funny Zither?

In the early years of the 20th century, a pair of ex-piano retailers invented an instrument that looked something like a miniature piano. Manufactured by the Toledo Symphony Company it was called a Dolceola. But why read about a musical instrument, when you can hear one? A Dolceola demonstration by Andy Cohen. Ray Skjelbred playing "Dolceola Blues". [more inside]
posted by fings on Nov 9, 2012 - 16 comments

"Ask for forgiveness, not permission."

Tricks for getting your violin on a plane, by Lara St. John.
How about an upright bass? A cello? A guitar? (previously) A trombone? A tuba (and other horns)? What about lutes, a djembe, a hurdy-gurdy, or bagpipes?
(Some general tips. More general tips - part 1, part 2.)
posted by flex on Dec 27, 2011 - 36 comments

Music AND Nude, Together for Almost the First Time

One thing the interwebs has lacked is a one-stop source for pictures of naked people with various musical instruments. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to bring you: MusicAndNude / My Hot Band! Does what it says on the tin. [NSFW, duh.] [more inside]
posted by ZenMasterThis on Dec 3, 2011 - 64 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

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

He ain't heavy, he's my guitar ...

"The StringStation introduces a fresh and inventive playing surface allowing one musician to play in real time on an instrument that offers thunderous bass, compelling rhythm, 3-D orchestration and melody. It uses new ways to approach groups of strings that find amazing intertwined performance techniques. It opens and lays out new paths to evolve tactile music composition skills." It's the baby of engineer/inventor Jim Bartz, who is on a mission to bring his invention into the musical mainstream. Start your exploration of what the StringStation can do with this video of Bartz playing his prototype model (actual performance comes in at 2:25). [more inside]
posted by woodblock100 on May 8, 2009 - 28 comments

For those who speak Japlish, here's the instrument for you!

You all know what a flute looks like; no need to link to any images. And most of you probably know what a Japanese shakuhachi looks like, although in case your memory needs a jog, it's this one. But what you probably haven't seen before is the hybrid of the two - the Shakulute. And it's no joke; it's catching on; plenty of people are now playing it. Curious about the sound? There are a number of mp3s for listening here.
posted by woodblock100 on May 4, 2009 - 27 comments

"I knew that the cello comes nowhere near one’s scrotum.”

'Cello scrotum' is a hoax. So was 'guitar nipple'. Baroness Elaine Murphy, a physician, member of the House of Lords and contributor to the Lords of the Blog blog, fesses up after 34 years. But other instrumental infirmities appear to be real, as catalogued in the recent paper titled A symphony of maladies.
posted by grounded on Jan 27, 2009 - 43 comments

Theremin cats

Kitties [heart] mini theremins. [more inside]
posted by piratebowling on May 22, 2008 - 29 comments

Blow it out your....

The "paint with sound" concept has been done before though perhaps never so beautifully (IMO). I found it best with just piano and upright bass, but YMMV. Via Unusual Instruments' Music Videos blog, which doesn't have craploads of content, but I did find the array mbira video quite interesting. This whole concept reminds me of other unusual instruments I've seen on the internet, like this guy and his broccoli ocarina and these folks and their pipe hat and this guy playing what appears to be an electric tennis racket violin. Previous (a, b)
posted by Kickstart70 on Sep 17, 2007 - 6 comments

Ben's bowls

At one time or another you've probably rubbed your finger along the rim of a glass to produce a note. In 1761 Ben Franklin took the idea further with the invention of the glass (h)armonica. The instrument enjoyed some popularity, but is believed to have caused health problems due to lead content in the glass. Performers complained of loss of feeling in their hands, some even suffered nervous breakdowns. People became very frightened of the armonica, and by 1830 it was all but extinct. But there's been some renewal of interest: they're being played, and they're being made. You can play a surprisingly good-sounding virtual version. Or listen to a charming rendition of a seasonally appropriate tune. [more links inside] Oh, and: [previously]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 23, 2006 - 15 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

Will somebody think of the violins?

New airline security regulations in the UK have taken their toll on the touring musicians who used to be able to take their delicate and/or rare instruments as carry-on luggage. Many are forced to either take their chances in the cargo hold or take ferries to countries with less restrictive security guidelines. Others contemplate staying home from touring completely. (via BBC)
posted by dr_dank on Aug 22, 2006 - 40 comments

I don't have a drinking problem, I'm playing a polka.

Need to find something to do with your empty beer bottles? Got some old gas cans taking up space in the back yard? Does grandma's acoustic bass just need a little something extra? The folks at oddmusic can help.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies on Jul 28, 2006 - 10 comments

Kitundu - Sound Artist

The bizarre instruments and superb sounds of Kitundu, Sound Artist.
posted by dobbs on Oct 23, 2004 - 5 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

Cigar Box Guitars

Cigar Box Guitars. Welcome to the first museum dedicated to the humble cigar box guitar. We have gathered the facts & legends, pictures & players and stories that span over 150 years.
posted by eastlakestandard on Apr 6, 2004 - 9 comments

~The Sound of the Sugar Plum Fairy~

"When Tchaikovsky heard the celesta during a trip to Paris, he wrote a letter to his publisher saying, "get me one of those before another composer steals it." The Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker couldn't dance without it. We have the history of the celesta -- and hear it in a special performance by Lambert Orkis of the National Symphony Orchestra." From NPR's Morning Edition a look at this relatively obscure instrument that young wizards music are made of. If you can't play or afford the real thing, try the chime.
posted by azul on Dec 24, 2003 - 6 comments

extreme hand sportz

superhandz is billed as an an x-treme hand sportz site. But impressive as some of these displays are, when it comes to flourish, can anyone even begin to compete with three-year old Mo Kin?(quicktime clip)
posted by madamjujujive on Oct 25, 2003 - 16 comments

Amusing Bass Guitars, a Treasure Trove of Bass Miscellany & Bunnies

Amusing Bass Guitars - a fun 62 page collection of unusual bass guitars from Bunny Bass where "basses are bunnier." Also, don't miss the gallery of bass & guitar girls and the lusciouslyy-crafted instruments from custom design builders. Seen any good basses you would add to this collection?
posted by madamjujujive on Apr 12, 2003 - 16 comments

disgusting things traditional Irish flute players do

10 disgusting things traditional Irish flute players do - along with a guide to the Irish flute, a few flute clips and a bleedin' deadly guide to Irish slang.
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 17, 2003 - 4 comments

OK, so not only is this a link for guitar bores, its also a link for Europe-based guitar bores. For shame! However, Stringsdirect are more or less the living embodiment of everything that makes buying on the internet great. Really cheap, really simple, really quick. (Well, they were for me yesterday...) And they sell Line 6 PODs as well. You really have no excuse not to buy one now. Awww hell, let's start a Shred-Thread...widdly..widdly..widdly...weeeee
posted by Jofus on Oct 20, 2002 - 20 comments

Leon Sergeivitch Termen, born in Russia and later a US resident, is best known as the inventor of The Theremin, the first real electronic instrument. The Theremin is played by standing and wavings one's hands. It was used to give a futuristic sound to classic sci-fi films and still looks plenty sci-fi when played[quicktime clip] and the music it produces is strange and beautiful[real player].
Old Leon himself ended up getting kidnapped by Soviet agents and sent to a Siberian prison camp. After his release, he continued to work for the KGB, creating one of the first "bugs" -- then used to eavesdrop on the American Embassy. He was mostly unaware of the fate of his eponymous instrument. Meanwhile, his former lover, Clara Rockmore, went on to try and change the thermin from novelty to serious instrument, she even had her own unique playing style (heard in the real player clip above). Want to play? build your own, or download your own, and join the whole odd subculture.
posted by malphigian on Aug 11, 2002 - 25 comments

Elmo appears before Congress.

Elmo appears before Congress. The puppet testifies before the Education Appropriations Subcommittee to urge more spending on musical instruments.
posted by swift on Apr 24, 2002 - 19 comments

Making noise on a budget.

Making noise on a budget. Helpful instructions on how to convert a old guitar into a hurdy-gurdy, make a 2-octave kalimba from lawn-rake tines, or build a 5-string fretless banjo in a weekend.
posted by transient on Nov 22, 2001 - 5 comments

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