The beauty of sound - april powell

This gallery showcases modern and contemporary musical instruments from around the world. Some of them are uniquely and creatively crafted. Some are ceremonial, cultural, and multi purposeful. Music and harmonizing sounds can be beautiful, but rarely do we know the tools used to create that beauty. Although, some of the instruments in this gallery may not appear to be visually beautiful, they all work to produce a beautiful sound.   

David Rivinus' Pellegrina depicts an odd shaped, red violin (actually called a viola) made of wood. It has thick strings, with slanted, curved carvings on each side of the strings. It also has a painting of a flower on the lower right corner, and top left corner of the viola. The chin rest on the bottom left blends in with the red wood, but is a hint darker. The texture of this viola looks like a smooth, sand down wood and the vertical position reflects a static shape. Although oddly shaped, this piece was actually made to assist the musician with physical comfort while playing. And still making heavenly sounds.
This instrument is called a Sousaphone, which is a bass horn. It's made entirely of smooth gold texture, there is an emphasis in the opening of the horn where the sound comes from called the bell, which is engraved with designs of bows, wreaths, floral designs, and a deer. The gold mouthpiece is a long, thin tube that sticks up and out a little. The neck that goes around the musicians body mirrors the circular rhythm of the bell. This instrument is made in a geometric shape that helps controls the sound.
Represented here are a pair of Timpani; a type of drum. It's made of copper, but does not have the smooth texture we know copper to have. This pair has lines around it along with a patterned design that goes all the way around the sides of the Timpani, and may give it a rough feel. The top is a thin, stretched skin type material affixed by nuts and screws that are the same color as the copper the Timpani is made of. They sit upon 3 leg, iron stands that loops up the sides to support them. It's beautifully crafted, and delivers a beautiful sound of base.
This long trumpet known as a Pukaea, looks like a long wand with a mouth. It's a dark wood, funnel shaped tube with wire bound around it. The bell (opening) literally looks like a mouth with a top lip and a bottom lip. It's not as fancy as most instruments, but it's intriguing and mysterious, and happens to be one of my favorite pieces in this gallery. Commonly used during war to signal with sound, one would think visually the texture of this flute-like instrument would be rough. But, because of how tightly bound the wiring around it is, it actually depicts a smooth texture. Using an asymmetrical balance the emphasis is on the bell of this trumpet, which delivers a strong, robust sound.
Claude Laurent created this unique Crystal Flute, and despite appearing to be very durable it is actually fragile. This flute is made from glass, shaped like a long tube with silver rings and silver keys that appear to have a splash of yellow on each key. While some parts of the flute where there are silver rings appear to have a smooth texture. However, the glass is designed with repetitive grooves that go completely around the area of the flute, and would give a rigid feel. Because of the fragility of the glass in this flute and it's vulnerability to scratches and discoloration, it was suggested that one should own this item for display, and not to actually play it. And it was indeed owned by great kings, emperors, and even one United States President.
This elegant piece is called a Kin which, is a bowl gong created in Japan. The bowl of this colorful piece is made of bronze, and sits on a wooden stand painted red and gold, with bronze patches throughout. If you look closely right below the bowl, there are small openings that reveal the bowl sitting on a light colored pillow. The mallet used to strike the Kin and make a powerful gong is also, wooden with a red handle and wrapped in dark leather. The red parts of the stand represents a lot of negative space, while the bronze patches laced with gold represent positive space. The bronze bowl has a patterned design all the way around it that makes the smooth texture of the bronze a little unleveled. Representing Zen this Kin belts out buddhist temple music, often used in the days of Kabuki Theatre.
A human face like structure, this Thumb Piano (one of many) originated in Africa. It's made of wood, with the base having several different patterns of carvings including a smaller face carving on the right and left side of it, which would make the texture of it very rough. There are holes carved out for sound, and what looks like metal prongs in the middle are the actual keys the musician plays. Atop the base a structure shaped like a human face and head brings emphasis to this entire piece. It has all the features of a face, a long wooden neck with rings around it, and a hat that has two cones on each side. The cones on the hat actually have metal rings looped through along the edges, but it isn't clear if they signify anything. This is a simple, yet detailed instrument with an indelible sound.
A simplistic creation, this instrument is called a Bamboo Mouth Harp. Something that looks like a kid put it together is actually used to make music and sounds. Made from bamboo and fibre, creating a smooth texture; this thin, skinny, spatula looking instrument has a middle piece that is carved into the skinniest goal post shape I've ever seen. This piece is detached completely at the bottom. There's a string attached to the top of the middle piece, and a bamboo stick tied to the end of that string. There is also a black string wrapped around the bottom portion of the harp. To create sound with this instrument simply pull on the bamboo handle while holding the harp in front of your mouth, with controlled breathing open and close your mouth at different ranges. Often used to make animal calls, it is also used in song. It looks like duck calling was around long before the Dynasty.
The Khawng Maun is a ceremonial gong. It looks like a rare item, worth a lot of money. However, it is unknown who created this item so it's worth may also be unknown. In the form of an open-ended circle this dynamic shaped gong is reminiscent of an old ship. The kind with goddesses of the sea carved into the nose of it. In this much smaller version, theres a gold designed version of an Asian goddess complete with jewels and customary attire it's proportioned just right to make it seem life-like. Red painted bamboo sticks are curved to fit the shape of the gong and are held to the outer and inner edges by bamboo string. It the middle are small metal cymbals which are struck often during a funeral. I imagine instead of the one long clang of a huge gong, this Khawng Maun offers several, shorter, softer clangs.
Made in the United States of America, this instrument called the Lyre-Mandolin (a lyre guitar), is credited to Orville Gibson. Made from wood, this smooth textured instrument is carved into two, symmetrically balanced swans that are back to back, separated only by the guitar-like handle and thin strings. The top of the handle has a darker, mahogany shade with a star and crescent moon carved into it. This instrument has a classical sound consistent with a lyre, but by it's shape I imagine is hard to hold while being played.
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