Paper tube flutes. Drinking-straw oboes. Drinking-straw panpipes. This video is misleading; the straws need to be closed at the bottom end to work.
The British drink a lot of tea, as we know. So it makes sense that the wooden boxes used to carry tea leaves from India would be all over the UK, especially but not exclusively near seaports. They’re big sturdy crates, often with picturesque stencils evocative of faraway places. A stick at the corner with […]
This extremely satisfying instrument can be made in less than 20 minutes. A random piece of not-too-thick board. In the photos it’s a piece of 3/8″ plywood that I had lying around, about 4 by 7 inches. A random piece of narrow wood that’s about as long as the board is wide. I had a […]
The detritus of industrial civilization includes endless supplies of PVC piping — a miracle material which is for the most part non-toxic, as long as you avoid breathing it as a dust or burning it and breathing the fumes. While they’re generally too heavy for stamping tubes, these pipes can be turned into flutes and […]
People have been playing with sound for a long time. In the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, there’s a unique device that dates back well over a thousand years: a “telephone” made of 25 meters stretched cotton string and two gourd drums — just like the tin-can & wire phones we made when we were […]
Africa has long been a place where practically everything is eventually turned into a musical instrument. As we gradually surround ourselves with the detritus of industrial civilization, it is some comfort to realize that not everything that we’ve turned into trash has to stay that way. As with the repurposing of 55-gallon oil drums to […]
How to Build a Hank Drum This tutorial shows you how to turn an empty propane tank into a multi-pitched tongue drum.
Baltimore is lucky. One of the city’s local fixtures is a fascinating cat who goes by the name of Abu The Flute Maker. He started out life as William Emerson, growing up poor in West Baltimore and shifting homes from one relative to another. But by the mid-70s, he’d begun making instruments out of whatever […]
Here are some real simple instruments you can do without hassle: I found a discarded wicker laundry basket in the trash a few years ago. I took it to my shop and carefully disassembled it, saving the wicker pieces in a cardboard box. In a workshop the following year, my students cut the pieces into […]
Pete Seeger enjoyed “…giving out bumper stickers reading “Gravity – it’s just a theory” and encouraging people to send them to anyone in Kansas, heartland of the anti-Darwinism, creationist movement.” The president of Kansas Citizens for Science tells a story about getting an unsolicited phone call from Pete Seeger one day: In a phone conversation […]