September 06, 2010
Playing the Hydraulophone: Organ Meets Flute Meets Water
Canadian Ryan Janzen is part researcher, part scientist, part engineer and part composer. Below, he shows us how to use the Hydraulophone, a tonal acoustic musical instrument played by direct physical contact with water. As he plays, you'll note that he gets one note per water jet as he plays the instrument. A cross between a piano and a wind instrument, he says that the people who learn how to play it quickly are those with both a flute and a piano background. (mixes how you play the notes with expression of how you play them).
The hydraulophone in the first sense was invented and named by Steve Mann, who gave a presentation on-stage the same day. Funtain.ca has more information on them and how to purchase one - apparently they come in different shapes and sizes and colors. Think tens of thousands for starters. As for where you can find them around the country? There's very few, but museums in Houston and Chicago have one and there's a permanent one housed in Toronto that is on display 24/7.
The instrument is addictive to play (I tried it and didn't want to stop) and very hypnotic. hydraulophone or poseidophone combines the simplicity of the piano with the interface of the tin flute or recorder. You play the hydraulophone by stopping the jets of water with your fingers or hands. As Ryan demonstrates, by blocking multiple jets you can even play chords. It appears that the more expression you put into it, the wetter you get. Click play for more.
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