Friday, February 29, 2008

Blackbells Astral Hang Drum

Blackbells now has more information up on their website about their first limited edition Hang Drum model to be offered. It's called the "Astral". They haven't yet decided on the tuning which will be offered, and from all information available, it looks like the scales offered on the Astral will be limited.

It appears that this first model is going to be more about scaling production and getting all of their production kinks and tuning methodology worked out. Thus the limited scales offered.

The Good News:

Looks like they are ready to start taking deposits on the first ones to be produced. Cost will be $3000, give or take a little. You must be on the waiting list to be offered one, so if you have any interest, best to get on the waiting list. When I joined the waiting list in January, there were 200 or so ahead of me. I have no idea what the list looks like now, but you'll need to submit a form on the website to get on the list.

I have to admit that $3000 can buy a lot of instruments... I could buy a pretty sweet Martin guitar for that price... so it still seems a bit pricey. That and the fact that I haven't received spousal approval yet for this.

They are suggesting that it will be about a 3 month wait from the time your deposit is received.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spike Fiddles by Peter Biffin

I recently stumbled in this new design of a spike fiddle by Australian, Peter Biffin. A spike fiddle is a relative of the modern violin. It includes four or five strings, and has a range similar to that of the violin.
The Tarhu is a new form of spike fiddle, created by instrument maker and musician Peter Biffin. The tarhu design uses a unique acoustic system, where the string’s vibrations are transferred to a featherweight wooden cone suspended within the wooden body. This design creates extremely sensitive instruments with an unprecedented range of tone colour variations. The efficiency of the cone system has also given these instruments a very large dynamic range

Unlike the violin, it is played by balancing it on a spike on the floor or the players lap. And, instead of moving the bow to change strings like with the violin, the spike fiddle is rotated on the spike and the player keeps the bow at the same angle

I find the sound from these instruments to be incredibly beautiful, and these instruments made by Peter Biffen to have amazing craftsmanship. They're not cheap, but I can imagine that they are a wonderful investment.

Peter some some great sound samples on his website, be sure to check them out, in order to hear the range and sound color of these instruments.

Peter makes several styles:

Long-neck Tarhu

Has four played strings and 8 sympathetic strings. It comes with tied frets, which enable a vast range of tunings, including modern/western tunings to microtonal middle eastern tunings. Be sure to listen to all of the sound files which demonstrate the range of this instruments in both a bowed an plucked playing style.

Kemanche Tarhu

This four stringed instrument is based on the traditional kemanche. But it looks like Peter has improved on the design and sound quality substantially.

Lyra Tarhu

This three string instrument is based on the traditional Cretan Lyra.


This is Peter's unique design. You gotta listen to the sound sample to appreciate what this instrument can do.

To really understand and appreciate the design enhancements which Peter has made here, you need to visit the
design page on the website:


Friday, February 22, 2008

Get your Google Moon 2.0 Xprise T-Shirt

OK, admittedly, this has nothing to do with music, but I am space fan and the Google Lunar Xprise is just too cool of an idea not to spread the word around. They announced the first 10 participants in the race this week. Now you can purchase this t-shirt to show your support for the event.

Since our government seems to have little interest in returning to the moon anytime soon, I applaud the Xprise folks for setting up this competition to inspire a new generation of engineers to get to the moon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another great Hang Video

Great Hang Video

Sunday, February 10, 2008


This is found music at it's best. I stumbled on to a new online flash music project called Muxicall.
Basically, it's an interactive music sound board that has the notes organized in a very interesting way. By clicking with your mouse, you make music.

In addition, it's also a shared music space, so that as other users login and play with it, you all make music together.

Check it out at:

Friday, February 08, 2008

New "Oscar" Hank-like Drum from Tribal Thunder

Tribal Thunder has produced a Hank-Drum derived instrument. Each drum has 6 notes, in a pentatonic scale. It looks like they are possibly welding the tops of two propane tanks together to make a much shorter (about 9" tall) and easier to handle drum. I really think that they have done a great job developing this instrument. The paint colors are awesome. You can play it with either your hands or mallets.
Cost is $400.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hang Music Site

Here's a couple of fun Hang Music sites: