the wack-a-phone is a plosive aerophone; striking the open ends
of the plastic pipes produces a "boing" as the air resonates in
the tube. though the playing style and sound are percussive, the
physics of the instrument means it is actually closely related to
these sort plosive aerophones are found in traditional
polynesian cultures, usually built of bamboo, and often played
with "flip-flop" sandals. a similar instrument is the stamping
tube: a length of bamboo closed one end, pounded on the ground to
create a pitched bass beat. in recent times, the performance
artists "the blue man group" have built a number of fantastic
variations of these instruments from plastic tubing.
this wack-a-phone is built from ABS tubing. note that there
are really just four tubes; the four level ones are connected to
back tubes by a "U" connection under the instrument. this
provides a level playing surface, while allowing the rear tubes to
be swapped out for different lengths (and thus different
the stand is built from pine, and resembles a small bookshelf with
eight holes in the shelves to hold the pipes. solid construction
and soft felt lining in the holes help prevent rattles, since the
instrument tends to take a heavy beating.
the pipes here range from a low A to the A below middle C. flex
in the couplings and changes in air temperature mean the tuning
can vary slightly; small pieces of scrap tubing can be used to
tweak the pitch if necessary.
i hope to build several more wack-a-phone stands, to give
access to more notes at once. the wack-a-phone teams with the flowerpotophone and
the gong tree as part of
my bangalon orchestra.
samples, loops, and Reason/Mach5 banks coming soon...