Homebuilt Musical Instruments


Hear this Tannerin:

Dave Miller's Tannerin Page

This is an electronic instrument that can produce an almost pure sine wave. The pitch is continously variable within three ranges, each about three octaves.

The pitch control is the knob at the paper keyboard, which exists only for letting the player know where the notes are. The volume knob is on the left end. The other controls select pitch range, waveform and master volume. I made this instrument for David Miller, who whetted my interest in putting one of these together. To learn more about this instrument, check out David's web page referenced at the left.

A Different Approach to the Same Sound


This is an updated version of an early electronic instrument called a Trautonium.

Like the Tannerin, this one produces a sine wave. Unlike the Tannerin, which uses a mechanical linkage to control a pitch potentiometer, this Trautonium uses a brass tube pressed against a long wirewound resistor to change pitch. The resistor is barely evident as a black line along the top front edge of the instrument.

My Aeolian Harp with the lid off

To hear this instrument

click here

Aeolian Harp Links

Window harp kit

Gorgeous harps

Making harps, the science, and sounds

Harp with venturi (air funnel)


Retail source

Aeolian harps are ancient stringed instruments that are played by the wind. They are named after the Greek god, Aeolus, god of the wind.

Aeolian harps are most often built to fit on one's windowsill; a strong breeze generates lovely, ethereal harmonics as it vibrates the strings. Like wind chimes, the music is random. Unlike wind chimes, the pitch combinations fade in and out unpredictably. Sometimes one note will hang in the air for several seconds, then be joined by a chorus. Sometimes the harp will not sing at all, especially if you are trying to show it off for someone. In cases like that, I turn on my attic fan and use a sliding glass door as a huge air valve to control the chord production.

Interestingly, the strings (eight to twelve) are tuned to the same pitch. This tuning eliminates dissonance, as the vibrations produce only one harmonic series with nothing else to clash.