From the first time a hollow log resonated with it was struck with a stick, innovation started taking place.  It wasn’t long before the hollow logs ends were covered with hides, held in with wet leather lacing that shrunk when it dried pulling the skin taught, and the drum was born.


Wood had been carved, formed and shaped, with subtle improvements each time.  New materials has been introduced and new construction techniques experimented with for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.


Recent years have really been a boon for musicians.  With the advent of CNC (which I guess stands for Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery, cheap overseas labor and a general better understanding of acoustics and design considerations, high-quality musical instruments could be had for not too much money.


Walking into a big box music retailer’s local store and glimpsing all the shinny offerings, it might be hard to remember that all these refined instruments and electronic offerings had humble beginnings.


That is…until one remembers that there are still a great number of people living in this world that are subjected to abject poverty. 


Still the desire to create music thrives even under these adverse conditions, and still innovation thrives.  Even with less than ideal tool and materials, musical instruments are created.


String Instruments 


Out of discarded materials from a trash heap in a slum in the South American country of Paraguay, instruments are fashioned for the students to learn on:

To Learn more about the Landfill Harmonic click here.


Certain elements of aesthetics are cast aside and some of the construction is crude, but there is a charm and practicality that cannot be denied.  For example, grading a top of a violin requires a two-inch think piece of wood being shaped to a (reversed) dish with a near uniform thickness of about 1/8”.  Obviously, this requires fine craftsman’s tool.


However, a piece of sheet metal of similar strength (as a piece salvaged from a gasoline can which is about 1/16th” thick) can more easily be bent.  Some pieces, such as wood parts used for tuning gears, don’t need to be symmetrical…nor does each key need to be made out of the same material.  Simple solutions also come into play, such as using friction pegs rather than geared tuners.


Some other instruments take more brute force and patience to construct.


To continue click here.