The Score Magazine April 2017 - Page 31

THE GREAT STALACPIPE ORGAN Wikipedia says “The Great Stalacpipe Organ is an electrically actuated lithophone located in Luray Caverns, Virginia, USA. It is operated by a custom console that produces the tapping of ancient stalactites of varying sizes with solenoid-actuated rubber mallets in order to produce tones.” It is an organ set inside a cave where instead of pipes, it is wired to soft rubber mallets that are able to strike the stalactites of varying size, shape and density. Essentially, when this instrument is played, it utilises the entire geological structure into its strings and cymbals. Try imagining that – playing a note and having the earth reverberate it back to you. MORSKE ORGULJE (SEA ORGAN) In another bid to turn the earth into a musical instrument, architect Nikola Basic devised a way to make the sea sing. On the surface, it looks like a series of marble steps dropping into the Adriatic Sea. Underneath, a number of narrow channels connect to thirty five organ pipes. Each set of steps contains within it five organ pipes and is tuned to a different chord. Wind and waves stimulate passage of air through the pipes and onto the steps, leading to the emergence of sounds. Unsurprisingly, people flock to the sea organ’s location ( Zadar, Croatia ) to catch a whiff of these sounds describes as haunting and harrowing in equal measure. THE SINGING RINGING TREE A musical sculpture near Burnley designed by the architects Tonkin Liu. Composed out of stacked pipes of various lengths which are aligned and structured to lean into the directions of the wind, however it may prevail. When the wind flows through the differently shaped pipes, it is transformed into different chords. Anyone sitting under the tree will hear a different songs, predicated upon the direction of the wind relative to their position. In 2007, The tree won an award for architectural excellence from the Royal Institute of British Architects. No surprises there. PYROPHONE ORGAN HYDRAULOPHONE LOOPHONIUM Another curious device that utilises wind to create tone, the pyrophone organ uses combustion to create explosive compositions. Powered by propane gas supplied to the base of glass resonant chambers which is set aflame by a flame generator, the instruments utilises the detonations and its creation of hydrogen flames that are channelled by the pipes and manipulated to generate specific tone and timbre. The variations are caused in accordance with the diameter and heights of the resonant chambers. Invented by Steve Mann, this device creates music by contact with water or other fluids. Fundamentally, you press with your fingers on narrow jets on water spurting out of the usually curve shaped device and it results in sound. Know the technicalities of the contraption and you’ll be able to generate actual songs – all out of water and your fingers. Far-fetched, I agree. But entirely real, I assure you. (Youtube for proof) One day Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal flautist Fritz Spiegl. woke up and decided that he would combine the euphonium with a lavatory pan. No, I did not make that up. The Loophonium was invented to be played at a concert of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on April Fools’ Day 1960. In 2003, the original item designed by Spiegl was auctioned by Sotheby’s for 500 – 1000 pounds. While the original model of construction from the 19th century is no longer followed, the early designs have been modified to work with smaller proportions. These days, pyrophones are quite amenable to being transported and much safer to use on account of resonant chambers being cooled by liquid nitrogen between notes. While I’m choosing to end the list here, the number of bizzare instrumentation that musicians, engineers and inventors have pursued number by the hundreds. There’s the pipe organ sculpted out of ice and the Earth harp which is the world’s largest stringed instrument which has the resonating chamber on one side of a valley and the strings stretched out nearly 1,000 ft to the other side. Feel free to look further and I promise you, you will revel in the magnificent oddities of our minds. The Score Magazine 29