Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Flutarina

Behold, a new generation of wind instrument has arrived! Well, it is my original design, the flutarina, a flute - ocarina hybrid. It's made of bamboo, which is a traditional material for flutes. It also has the flute embouchure hole. But the embouchure hole is located right in middle of the instrument, making the acoustic closer to ocarinas than flutes.

Unlike standard ocarinas, the hole placement counts. Finger hole further away from the embouchure hole produces lower pitch. But
unlike flutes, the hole size plays more important role than location.

This instrument has 9 finger holes, 2 of which are the natural hole formed by bamboo ends, operated by thumbs. It is pitched in Eb, with a range of approximately from middle C up to Bb (nearly 2 octaves). Just like ocarinas, overblowing doesn't work on this instrument.

It features internal lacquer (white colored), embouchure hole and finger holes inlays, bamboo-tree carving, and a matte-lacquer finish. I haven't figure out all of the fingerings yet, but I believe full chromatic should be possible. Because it is basically a stopped pipe, its length is about half of that required for a flute with the same pitch. May I call it the eco-flute?

Another nice thing about it is its extreme ability to pitch bend. And the thumb-operated end-holes can serve as a special effect device simillar with the koudi (The koudi is a very very short flute with no fingerhole used to imitate bird songs).

How about the sound? Well, you be the judge. Listen to the sound here:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Trumpet Multiphonics

I figured that using a funny embouchure and fine control, it is possible to play multiphonics on the trumpet, especially in the high register. The sound is unstable and not very musical, just like any other wind instrument multiphonics. But I guess a good composer out there might find a good use for this unique voice, and a good player might figure out how to do it reliably.

Listen to it here:

If you don't get it, it is the vibrating sound between the two notes. It is unstable as it easily drops into either one of the more stable tones. But when everything is correct, the funny vibration comes. I know it sounds weird because of the funny embouchure involved, but it is an ordinary Bb trumpet, a Constellation, not a clarinet or some weird custom-made instrument. And, No! It doesn't involve playing while singing the 2nd note.