History of the Whistle

‘The Anaconda’

Key Design pictures – from Christian Cless

An interesting set of pictures sent in by Christian Cless. What do you think? Would this solve a problem for people that find reaching that bottom hole a challange? Please let us know what you think [ comments below]

Suspended Animation in Berlin

I thought I’d just follow up on Misha’s post about our search for inspiration for the “toob”. Last Christmas holidays I happened to be heading through Berlin to Italy to visit the in-laws  – no direct flights from Scotland to Venice, it seems we Scots are condemned to only visit the south of Spain cheaply… I digress, however, one of Berlin’s many attractions which stood out for me on picking up the ‘welcome to Berlin guide’ was the Musical Instrument Museum. So dragging my other half through the bitter cold streets of a festive Berlin we pushed aside the heavy felt curtain and stepped inside.

I didn’t know what to expect from the museum, but the first thing that struck me was the paradoxical silence of the place, here arrayed before you are an amazingly diverse menagerie of instruments all strangely frozen in time and space within glass display cases. The diversity however is amazing, it really is like the galapagos islands of instruments, every possible variation of an instrument’s ‘dna’ is on display here, some extinct species, other cruder, yet noble ancestors of modern day instruments.

It took us about ten minutes of walking around under the stern gaze of the prison warders/museum curators before realising that there was an audio guide available. At this point the visit came to life, and these silent instruments got the chance to sing again. Whilst the museum is on the surface extremely dry and academic, even down to the clipped tones of the audio guide introducing each instrument with a code, when you hear the instruments play you can suddenly imagine; a baroque orchestra, a dance instructor, a traveling raconteur, a cathedral, or  a folk festival.

In terms of the toob, the array of wind instruments were inspiring to see a wide variety of mechanisms for pads, both from a functional and an aesthetic point of view.

Some more of my surreptitious shots in my flickr set here;

It’s Official!

bone_whistleWe might all have known it, but the world’s oldest musical instrument is a whistle.  Discovered earlier this year by archaeologists in the Hohle Fels cavern in South West Germany, the end blown flute, or whistle, has been dated at an astonishing 35,000 years old.  What is perhaps even more astonishing is that it’s rumoured the whistle still works (we did try and get ahold of it for testing but they were slightly touchy on the matter).

Made from the wing-bone of a vulture the whistle was the best preserved of a clutch of instruments found in the cave – other’s being made from mammoth tusks.  Researchers suggest that the find shows that music was widespread much earlier than previously thought – with it already being quite far advance at this stage, some forty thousand years ago.     They go to to say that the art and culture that emerged at the time would’ve contributed to the maintenance of larger social networks, which might have given humans evolutionary advantage over the neanderthals, with whom humans co-existed at the time.


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