Musical Inventions: DIY Instruments to Toot, Tap, Crank, Strum, Pluck, and Switch On

Musical Inventions: DIY Instruments to Toot, Tap, Crank, Strum, Pluck, and Switch On

by Kathy Ceceri


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People have been playing music on homemade instruments for thousands of years. But creating new instruments is much more than an art form. When you want to make a note sound higher or lower, you have to change the sound waves coming out of the instrument. That's science! When you explore the way different materials produce different sounds, that's engineering. When you speed up or slow down a song, you're counting beats — using math. And technology makes electronic instruments and devices to record and play back music possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781680452334
Publisher: Maker Media, Inc
Publication date: 05/28/2017
Pages: 252
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Kathy Ceceri is the author of activity books for kids and families, including Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future. She helped create the Geek-Mom blog and the book Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families and contributed more than a dozen projects to the Geek Dad series of books. Formerly the Homeschooling Expert at, Kathy presents robots and STEAM programs at schools, museums, libraries, and Maker Faires around the country. She lives with her family in Upstate New York.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface: Musical Inventors xi

The Musical Inventions Supply Closet xv

Introduction: The Science of Sound and the Art of Inventing Instruments xxi

1 Singing Strings and Warbling Winds 1

Playing Around with Notes 2

How to Change Notes on a Chordophone 7

Project: Compact Washtub Bass 10

Project: Stick-on-Top 3-String Strummer 15

How to Change Notes on an Aerophone 23

Project: Drinking Straw Aerophones 25

Project: Giant Corrugated Singing Tube 28

Project: Bullroarer 31

Project: The Pickle-O, a Vegetable Ocarina 34

2 Bells and Beats 39

Got Rhythm? 41

Standing Waves, Overtones, and Harmonics in Idiophones and Membranophones 42

Project: Singing Bowl 44

Project: Tunable Water Glasses 46

Project: Rainstick 50

Project: Cup Song 54

Project: Cookie Tin Steel Drum 59

Project: Wrenchophone 62

Project: Packing Tape Bass Drum 67

Project: Balloon Drum 70

3 Mechanical Music 73

Shake Things Up with Resonance and Timbre 75

Project: Thumb Piano 76

Project: Musical Marble Run 82

Music Box Engineering 92

Project: Experimental Music Box 94

Project: Origami Paper Popper 104

Project: Flapping Paper Strips 108

4 Eerie Electronic Music 111

Where Electronic Music Gets Its Spark 114

The Buzz about Synthesizers 118

The Strange and Mysterious Theremin 121

Project: DIY Theremin 124

Project: littleBits Synth Glove 130

Project: Makey Makey Musical Surface 138

The Silly Science of Circuit Bending 146

Project: Simple Circuit Bending 148

5 Recording and Listening 156

What Makes Phonographs Go Round 158

Project: Manila Record Player 161

Speaking of Speakers (and Microphones)… 167

Project: Super-Simple Speaker 170

Project: Plain Pencil Microphone 181

Tuning into Radios 185

Project: Pizza Box Radio 188

Afterword: It's Not Music Until You Make It Musical 199

Index 201

About the Author 213

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Musical Inventions: DIY Instruments to Toot, Tap, Crank, Strum, Pluck, and Switch On 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book! This book starts with a scientific introduction to what sound and music are. From there, it goes on to give simple instructions for how to make all sorts of instruments, for the most part, from ordinary household items. There are directions for everything from homemade music boxes, drums, singing bowls, and stringed instruments to bullroarers, double reeds, theremins, synthesizers, radios, and even a record player! The difficulty of the various instruments varies greatly from very simple to more difficult. The directions are easy to follow and have clear, full color photographs that help clarify them. Boxes clearly list the items needed to make each instrument. The instruments are organized into chapters by type, and there is a handy index as well. There are useful boxes scattered throughout the text. Some provide interesting, related websites. Others contain short biographies of inventors of each type of instrument. Still other boxes provide safety warnings. This is undoubtedly the definitive book for those who wish to make their own music! I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.