I remember (just barely) making a cigar-box ukulele in kindergarten. We had to provide the cigar box (in those days, if a kid's parents didn't smoke - rare - a cigar box could be procured at the local drug store - ours was Lyman-Sargent's in downtown Wilmette) and strings (I believe they were rubber bands) were fastened to the bottom (on nails that I am sure the teacher pounded in) and stretched up the body of the "instrument" (the cigar box) along a "neck" (not sure what that was) to be fastened (I don't recall how) to the "head" (probably just the end of the neck). I don't recall any way tuning could be accomplished but, hey, the sound it made would not have been improved had there been "string" adjustment possible! We strummed away on our little noisemakers, pretending to accompany the music teacher (playing loud enough on the piano to pretty much drown us out). Now whether we also played the sand blocks at the same time, I don't remember, but I do remember "making" those (why we say we "made" these things is beyond me as the teacher was the one wielding manner, knife, staple gun, scissors, etc.). They were blocks of wood, wrapped in sand paper. I have never liked the feel of sand paper (why I was happy when my husband bought me my "mouse" - a little electric sander), but this past weekend I found myself again making sand blocks (my "mouse" makes a terrible musical instrument, but it's very handy to smooth rough surfaces; on the other hand, my quickly constructed sand blocks sounded pretty darn good!). I used the sand blocks in one of the songs we just recorded for the latest CD: "Songs of Early Childhood" (songs our ancestors sang as children) . . . but more on that later, when it is finally ready for distribution.
Anyway, here's my point (took long enough to get to it, didn't I?): creating instruments out of raw materials is nothing new. Our ancestors did it for centuries! And some were pretty darn creative. And some were marketed to the general public. And some, thankfully, have never been heard of since.
When we attended the Glendale, AZ Folk Heritage Festival last month (March 2010), I was amazed to find that there was a "homemade instruments" workshop. I didn't attend it (I was obligated elsewhere), but I did talk to Pat Clark, the creator and player of the most elaborate Cigar Box Guitar and Dobro I have ever seen. He was kind enough to let me take his photo & agreed to let me share it here on this blog. These instruments have been electrified with pickups so they can be plugged right into an amplifier (bet my kindergarten teacher would never have imagined that!). Of course they use conventional tuning pegs and real instrument strings (no rubber bands here) so they can be tuned to precision! Ah, we've come a long way.
I had been thinking about these homemade instruments for some time so running into Mr. Clark was a special treat. I did a little "Googling" to see what I could find and discovered that there is a whole Cigar Box instrument musicianship out there. Check these out:
David Beede (giving information on how he made it as well as demonstrating it)
Gus (showing the instrument construction and demonstrating its sound)
It's not just for guys, check out Shelley Rickey's instrument
Then there are similar (stringed) instruments made from other handy objects:
The cookie tin banjo (demo and construction info)
The gas can banjo (make sure the can is empty before construction or playing)
Another advantage to these unique instruments: unlike conventional guitars, they pack up easier for travel all over the world. Gus shows how this all comes together on his YouTube video (and he also shows the pickup workings for those wanting to "go electric").
Want one of these unique instruments for yourself, making you guaranteed "life of the party" (if you dare bring it along)? "eHow" will show you the construction procedure from scratch. If you're not that handy and want the raw materials supplied, Elderly Instruments (one of my favorite suppliers of musical instruments and accessories) has kits! Not a DIY kind of person? Buy one ready-made from "Papa's Boxes."
One of the fun aspects of these cigar-box (and other homemade instruments) is that they can be as elaborate or as plain as you wish to make them. Tom of CigarBoxUkes.com has a lovely display of his instruments, all uniquely decorated. They end up being utilitarian, decorative, and vintage items all at the same time. What house wouldn't be more lovely if sporting one of these on the parlor wall?
But there are other forms of homemade instruments. Our earliest ancestors discovered that banging on our natural resources (logs, rocks) or shaking things that grew in their vicinity (dried out cactus, seed pods, etc.) created melodious sounds. We have modernized such things into drums and maracas, but the inspiration behind these 21st Century instruments is worth remembering.
Earlier this week, my friend Thomas MacEntee sent me information about a "rock xylophone." I had heard of the stones that make music when struck, but this is taking it to the next level. Check this blog by The Ancient Digger. There is a short video that is included here (with links to others) and I am greatly impressed by the sound. Not sure what songs from my repertoire would be enhanced by this, but I'd be willing to try . . . next time I'm in North Cumbria, UK.
So when your child (grandchild, great-grandchild) comes to you with the "instrument" (oatmeal box drum, trash-can lid cymbal, water-filled bottle - hit or blown across) that was made in daycare or preschool, suggest a singalong! Who knows, that instrument could very well metamorphose into a life-long passion (I've been playing guitar for over 45 years . . . not counting the cigar-box ukulele hours).
Friday, April 9, 2010
Homemade Music/Homemade Instruments
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
There was always a "canjo" workshop for kids at Wheatland. The kids loved it. [http://www.wheatlandmusic.org/] Elderly is my favorite place to browse, feel lucky to live so close!ReplyDelete
Don't forget the saw, bones, and spoons. I am beginning to think that wherever happy people get together, there is music!ReplyDelete
Nice article Jean. There's a huge resurgence in homemade instruments. A popular online gathering place is the Handmade Music Clubhouse http://HandmadeMusicClubhouse.com.ReplyDelete
There's thousands of member photos, hundreds of videos, specialized groups, forums and even live chat. The members are friendly and eager to help a beginner construct their instrument.
I am passing on the Ancestor Approved to you. You cover two of my favorite topics, genealogy and music!ReplyDelete
What about the old washtub thingy? I don't know what its called, but you pluck it like a bass string. We always could rig up one of those washtubs and a few spoons to slap on knees! And the old piece of tin foil over a comb to play like a Kazoo? Now the memories are coming back!ReplyDelete
World famous, Papa's Boxes handmade, acoustic stringed instruments including ukuleles, banjos and guitars. Based out of Syracuse, New York Papa sells stringed instruments worldwide.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing out this content it are really fastidious.ReplyDelete
Your blogs and information attracts me to come back again n again.ReplyDelete
These articles have got complete sense without confusing the readers. Go to Merit EVReplyDelete
I am surely coming again for more contents of yours.ReplyDelete
More about Boston Place
Your table are too sword like to feature and relaxed to see. Good Relationship With Onks DesignReplyDelete
Your blogs stuff is purely enough for me personally.ReplyDelete
More about Alp Pictures
Wasp dudes! Awesome stuff keep it up.ReplyDelete
Tips by Deco En Bois
Nice to see your work!! It’s really helpful for me.ReplyDelete
instant payday loans online
Info is implausible, I would want to see more and more from your writers.ReplyDelete
cash advance payday loan
I would be supportive on all your articles and blogs as a result of they are simply up to the mark. Get more info about Mont Clara AssociatesReplyDelete
Nobody can reject the info you have given in the blogs, this is actually a great work.ReplyDelete
Great blog you people have maintained there, I totally appreciate the work. Read More about Again VestReplyDelete
The matter that you provide is worth our time and energy.ReplyDelete
I would be supportive on all your articles and blogs as a result of they are simply up to the mark.ReplyDelete
car accident claims
That’s a nice site you people are carrying out there. mis sold ppiReplyDelete
I am happy to see that you have provided such an incredible and impressive blog for us. online payday loanReplyDelete
I have got the superb information from these blogs finally. mis sold ppiReplyDelete
Hmm!! This blog is really cool, I’m so lucky that I have reached here and got this awesome information. hereReplyDelete
I'd be trampled if all sites gave articles like these awesome articles. Relationship Tips by DJ Posse-eReplyDelete
An immense moonlike of commendation, reserve it up.ReplyDelete
Your writings, articles, blogs I mean over all contents is must read matter.ReplyDelete
Healthy Relationship with Tik Hit
I guess this message is totally unparalleled.ReplyDelete
You completely match our expectation and the variety of our information.ReplyDelete
Bike Curious Articles
This matter is down to earth, hats off buds out there.ReplyDelete
Advice by Ride French River
Your articles are solon than wow!ReplyDelete
Read More about Banco Imagenes
This is an excellent blog along with the great knowledge.ReplyDelete
These are truly amongst the wonderful informative blogs.ReplyDelete
social media infographics
Wonderful collection of the posts!! These will be definitely helpful for everyone.infographicReplyDelete
congratulations guys, quality information you have given!!! infographic designReplyDelete
Amazing work pals, I really enjoy reading your interesting blogs.ReplyDelete
payday loans florida
He said that the awards would be conferred on the World Teachers’ Day and the department had star-shaped badges manufactured for the performers.
pec examination result 2018 of grade 5 and grade 8
5th class result 2018 rwp
pec result 2018 8th