Friday, May 30, 2008

HAPI Drum by Didgeridoo Store - a commercial Hank Drum

Check out this new drum produced by the Dideridoo Store. They've named it a HAPI (Hand Activated Percussion Instrument).
The drums are available in either the pentatonic key of D or E.
If you wanna get your hands on a really nicely manufactured instrument, check it out here:

Or here:

Here's a video:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Grounding bar chopping block lamellaphone

Here's an excellent example of a simple to make lamellaphone. The primary element here is an electrician's grounding bar. Combine that with some tempered spring steel, in two widths: 1/8" and 3/16" & you got yourself a lamellaphone (otherwise known as a Kalimba).

Props to Yapruder who came up with this idea. I haven't made one yet, but I am planning to hit the electricians supply store the next time I am in town.

Yapruder has even posted an Instructable build sequence here:

For more inspiration, check out Yapruder's Flickr set online here:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ikea Kitchen Rhythms Winner

Tommy Be won the Ikea Kitchen Rhythms contest with this winning video:

My favorites are teh plastic mixing bowls and the water squirting on the metal...

To see all of the videos submitted for the contest, check this out:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Completed Hank Drum Ideas

I had the opportunity to take my completed Hank Drum to the Northern California Flute Circle's Spring Flute Festival, which was held on April 26 -27, 2008 in Georgetown, CA. I left the Hank Drum at one of the flutemakers booths while I was working another booth. I came back later in the afternoon to hear tales of lot's of folks stopping by the play the drum!

One of the folks who was intrigued by the sound of the Hank Drum was flutemaker Russ Venable. Russ is an expert craftsman and he has been making Native American Style and transverse flutes for many, many years. Russ asked about the construction of the drum so I promised that I would send him the link to Dennis Havlena's site with the build instructions. (

Low and behold a few weeks later, Russ dropped me an email to tell me about his build of a Hank Drum. He was enthralled with the ease of construction and the beautiful tones that he was getting from his completed drum. At that point, he hadn't finished painting the drum, but since it was his first drum, he thought that a simple spray paint job with some spray paint would do just nicely. As you can see from the pictures, his drum came out fantastic. I'm painting mine this weekend with a basic spray paint job. Notice also that Russ took off the metal hooks on the blank rubber cords and fastened the ends together with a line of cord (actually, you can't see this in the pictures). Finally, I was impressed by Russ's ingenuity with the creation of a base from a piece of pipe, a pipe fitting, a piece of wood and and some rubber feet. (see photo on right)

All-in-all, a great finish to his first Hank Drum project.

Kudos to Russ!

Check out Russ's other musical creations on his website:

I'd love to see other finished Hank Drums. I'll post the pictures here if you send them to me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to improve your Hank Drum

I'll be building several new hank drums in the coming weeks. I plan to photograph and videotape the whole process in greater detail this time. In the meantime, I am considering several improvements to the next build. Below are some of my ideas. Feel free to comment if you have anything to contribute to the discussion.

Idea 1 - Move both of the high A and high C tongues further out towards the perimeter of the drum surface. If you've attempted to build the Hank Drum by religiously following Dennis Havlena's plans, (link: then you'll find that these two tongue end up in the metal between the low D and the low F and low G tongues. They're darn hard to tune and they don't ring too long. Thus, the experiment to move them closer to the perimeter of the drum.

Idea 2 - Replace the high A and high C tongues with other notes within the D pentatonic scale. The idea here is that if these notes are too short to make a nice note, replace them with a longer tongue and a note that will sound better.

If you not familiar, the basic D minor pentatonic scale is made up of the following six note (in order lowest to highest):

D F G A C D* *octave

The notes currently in Dennis's plans (for the eight tongues) are (in order lowest to highest):

D A C D* F G A* C* *octave

One proposal is to replace the high A and C with the following configurations:

D F G A C D* F *G * *octave

Idea 3 - Of course there are other scales which can be made from eight notes. The easiest extension is to create the D minor scale which would use all eight tongues to create an full octave of notes:

D E F G A A# C D

Idea 4 - One of my favorite scales is called the Spanish Gypsy or "Abba Rabba" scale. In the key of D, this would be:

D D# F# G A A# C D

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hang Drum Music video featuring rashi elyasaf shmuel

Here's an awesome music video featuring the Hang and the band: rashi elyasaf shmuel ( I can't seem to find anything else from these guys online....)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Microfiche to MIDI Device from Maker Faire

Here's an interesting application. The device converts light into MIDI signals, and was shown at this year's Maker Faire.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Music for People Workshops

I stumbled in to the Music for People website today and found that they have a very rich calendar of musical workshops, programs and retreats. I have not attended any of their programs (they are on the east coast, I am on the west coast). But they have some wonderful events planned.

Here's a link to their calendar:
They offer a range of products:

Maker Faire 2008: Instrument Interfaces

Here's a video of several unique musical interfaces from the 2008 Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I didn't go this year, but it'll be on my calendar for 2009! (Note: the video takes a while to load) from Collin Cunningham on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Video: Blogs in Plain English

Are you curious about what blogging is all about?

I found the perfect explanation of how blogging works, if you're curious.

This short video explains it all, in the simplest terms I've found yet. (the video is entertaining by itself...)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hand Cranked Drum Machine

Here's a awesomely simple, hand cranked drum machine. I gotta make one of these:

Life imitates Art: The Guitar Zeros

Guitar Zero's are a group of musicians who've created software to use their "Guitar Hero" controller (the guitars) as real instruments. The software interfaces with the controllers to enable the buttons on the guitar controllers to trigger MIDI sounds.
Pretty cool engineering, even if it's a bit limiting from the musical side.

For more detail, including a free download of their software: