Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Horn of Plenty

I’m in big trouble. I have fallen in love. The problem is, she’s high maintanance. She’s expensive. But she’s beautiful:

Ever since my ears first laid eyes on her beautiful sounds my brain has been racking itself to figure out how I can own this monstrous (in size and price) instrument. I might have come up with my silliest, least realizable idea yet.

I’m going to take the instrument out to the streets and play. I know. I know. I disdain playing live. I disdain busking as a concept. I don’t know how to play any songs! But I’m going to do it. And I am going to do it in jazz style.

For a long time I’ve been thinking about playing my alto on the streets, improvising one long endless ballad. The rewards of this would be two-fold. First: I could PRACTICE the horn and not annoy any neighbours. Second: I might be able to buy a cup of coffee at the end of a day.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “How do you go from buying a cup of coffee to buying a $5,000 instrument?”

You’re conclusions are probably the same as mine: stupidity. But that’s ok. Love will make fools of us all.



Primitive Tools of Stone Age Man

Wind Chimes

I’ve always been enthusiastic about making my own instruments. I’ve rarely been successful.

The bamboo pole supporting the peppers was my attempt to make a shakuhachi. It’s the only surviving artifact from a long period spent trying to make my own pan-pipes, fifes and primitive flutes.

A website for kids helped me complete a functional instrument:


A pentatonic tubular xylophone. Wow. After hours of research, trips to the hardware store and a ton of burnt bamboo I could make 5 notes. And they didn’t sound great.

I decided if I wanted to be the next Harry Partch, I would have to go where the future was. Electronics. I bought  a book about circuit-bending and went to a Circuit City for the first time in my life. The result?

A semi-functional pair of contact-microphones. I don’t think Stockhausen needs to worry yet.

So I put instrument building out of my mind. Why would someone who can’t hang a picture think they are capable of building an instrument? Folly, plain and simple.

And then it happens. I see a set of wind-chimes and begin to think about metallophones… and before I know it, my dad is driving me to the Home Depot to buy threaded rod and 1x2s.

While I didn’t contribute anything musical to this (the wind-chimes come tuned) I have no hesitation saying: I’ve built my first truly successful instrument. (It plays 6 notes.)