There are moments in every forward-thinking musician’s career where all the possible sounds created by traditional instruments seem to have been exhausted and computers and samplers are simply unable to provide the same satisfaction as a physical object. In this situation, some have taken the initiative to create their own instrument.
Below are a few examples of when musicians put down their traditional instruments for something of their own creation-allowing them to produce some unique music.
Björk – the Gameleste
Icelandic trendsetter Björk is famous for incorporating unfamiliar instruments into her digital world. After using a celeste (a small, spectral piano) on Vespertine, Björk decided to cross-breed it with the Balinese gamelan tonebars for her multimedia Biophilia project. And so, the gameleste was born. Björk has also created a visual synthesiser and a pendulum harp.
10cc – the Gizmotron
Before sampling was available, 10cc set on a quest to cheaply reproduce the sounds of an orchestral string section. In doing so, they invented the Gizmotron-a device that clamped across the strings of an electric guitar and provided a hypnotic sound effect. The Gizmotron was used widely in Sheet Music and the two succeeding albums.
Pat Metheny – the Pikasso
The Pikasso is a mutant guitar that looks something out of photoshop. The four-necked, 42-stringed guitar was invented by Pat Metheny in conjunction with Canadian luthier Linda Manzer. It took two years to build and also includes a ‘hexaphonic pickup’ which allowed Metheny to play samples.
Harry Partch – Cloud-Chamber Bowls, Harmonic Canon, Quadrangularis Reversum, etc.
Harry Partch was renowned for creating his own instruments in order to play distinctive and other-worldly tones. The instruments were often built out of scavenged materials (like the Zymo-Xyl which is a take on a xylophone including ketchup and wine bottles and hubcaps).
If you’re inspired to possibly create your own instrument, Olimpus in Mosta has a large variety of instruments that’ll get your creative juices flowing. To view our full range, visit our web store or our Mosta-based store.