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.)