I thought I’d share my collection of funny little sound making devices. A fair number of people, let's call them 'friends', have commented on these objects saying they make the most annoying sounds known to man, right up there with finger nails down a black board.
Here's a list of the some of these incredibly useless musical instruments:
The Groan Hammer: a plastic hammer shaped object that makes a sound so ridiculous you end up laughing ‘til it hurts, then it becomes incredibly irritating. It’s like the sound you'd get if you kicked a football in the stomach of a drunk who'd just consumed 40 fags and 4 litres of White Lightning. I bought it from one of those sea side shops when I went to All Tomorrow's Parties, along with a fetching pirate disguise. This one scores 9 out of 10 on the Incredibly Useless Musical Instrument Scale.
Stylophone: you know the thing, the small electronic organ you play with a metal prodding thing. Surprisingly, I haven’t yet found the need for a metallic wasp-like sound in any of the songs I play. IUMI Scale 8/10
Wooden Rattle: one of those football type rattles that you spin around and it makes an incredibly loud KRAK-KRAK-KRAK-KRAK sound. IUMI Scale: 9/10
Thunder Tube: a long tube that's open one end and at the closed end hangs a long metal coil, again it requires a shaking motion to release the glorious sound of rolling thunder. It sounds like a drum roll using mallets on a crash cymbal and it scares the cat. IUMI Scale: 7/10
Bamboo Panpipes: when I hear the sound of pan pipes I’m immediately transported to the pharmacy in my home town where they had Pan Pipe Classics constantly on the stereo. I had lots of health problems when I was younger so had to visit the pharmacy on numerous occasions you see. It completely baffles me why anyone would feel the need to re-record songs like Hey Jude on the pan pipes. This one is way off the IUMI Scale. It was an xmas present.
I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, we'd be sat in the studio listening to a song that doesn’t sound quite right and after I add a carefully placed Groan Hammer to the recording it transforms the song into something wonderful and unique and everyone showers me with praise, aint gonna happen... or maybe one day I’ll create an amazing piece of musique concrète with the instruments, highly unlikely.
Anyway, the main point of this stupid rambling blog post was to declare my love for the glass harmonica. It creates a similar sound to when you rub the rim of a wine glass but considering it’s a ‘harmonica’ you can create multiple notes, i.e. it’s an instrument of dreams! It was invented by American revolutionist Benjamin Franklin, popular in the 18th century and described as having the sound of angels. More recently, artists such as Bjork and Tom Waits have used the instrument and apparently it features on Richard Hawley's new album too. This highlights the fact that it’s an incredibly useful and wonderful instrument and I NEED TO GET ONE. Definitely not an IUMI.
I went to Rome recently and discovered this little museum of musical instruments and in it was a glass harmonica! Unsurprisingly, along with all the other instruments, it was secured behind a see-through plastic box so you could only imagine what the sound would be like. It was an odd experience wandering around this museum in deathly silence, so many amazing instruments yet no sound.
I've had a look online for glass harmonicas to buy and to my joy it seems they're still producing them but sadly they're cripplingly expensive. Oh well, at least it's not as unattainable as this sea organ.