These are instruments that generate a variety sounds mostly without any specific pitch or the capacity to change pitches.


bishbosh 00-01 chilmark

Bishbosh 00-01 Chilmark

pipes guiroshaklave cranky 02 chilmark

Pipes, Roshakla. Cranky  02 Chilmark

botree 05 santa fe

Botree  05 Santa Fe

smile 05 santa fe

Smile  05 Santa Fe

flattery 05 santa fe copy

Flattery  05 Santa Fe

anticipatory juices 06 santa fe music box

Anticipatory Juices  05 Santa Fe

hand percussion 02-09 chilmark-santa fe-tucson

Hand Percussion  02-09 Chimark, Santa Fe, Tucson

cranky,chewb,tam.clak 12 tucson

Cranky, Chewb, Tam, Clak   12 Tucson

plato 12 14 tucson

Plato  12-14 Tucson

peezoshe 16 tucson

Peezoshe  16 Tucson


Rodswell  16 Tucson

The rods (1/8″ and 3/16″) change pitch as they move through the rollers.


Sawzer  17 Tucson

Saw blades rotatable over pickups.


Slith  17 Tucson

B-bs inside steel.


Springed Instruments


All sound is vibration.  Of common objects, tensioned springs are among those most easily stimulated to vibrate (the definition of a spring, according to wikipedia, is an elastic object used to store mechanical energy).  As with steel generally, springs tend to incorporate the the sound qualities of the object the are excited by into their own.

Musically speaking, they are very long strings whose length and sensitivity allow them to resonate sympathetically (the reason they are often used in reverb units) or generate their own sounds.  They generate a fundamental pitch (below the threshold of hearing when they are long) and, owing to their excitability, numerous overtones.

 playlist of springed instrumyoutubeents

Some springed instruments of Anarchestra:

sprawl 05-06 santa fe

Sprawl  05-6 Santa Fe

sacre bleu 05 santa fe

Sacre Bleu  05 Santa Fe

'sprong 06 santa fe

‘Sprong  06 Santa Fe


Soren  10 Tucson

springbok 10 tucson

Springbok  10 Tucson

sprix 13 Tucson

Sprix  13 Tucson

sprymbal 14 Tucson

Sprymbal  14 Tucson

maren-petrea 17 tucson

Maren-Petrea  17  Tucson

Sisters of Soren.

A few other instruments have springs incorporated into them to add resonance/sustain.  Many have springs as a mechanical component.

In addition they are sometimes useful as bows

spring bows 04-6 santa fe

Spring Bows  02-06 Chilmark, Santa Fe



DSC02429 copy

Bells, gongs, and cymbals produce a multitude of pitches simultaneously.  They inhabit a musical dimension between that of specifically pitched instruments and sounds with so many pitches or so little stability of pitches that none can be effectively distinguished.

playlist of bellish instruments on youtube

Most of our euro-american tonal concepts (those behind strings, winds, and bars) are based almost exclusively on length (with the other two dimensions as modifiers).  This is efficient and simple and produces the most easily identifiable (least complex) pitch fields.

Circular and curved objects struck at different places with different strikers and different degrees of force tend to produce a variety of frequencies.  This tends to remove us, when using them musically, from the linear ideas that propel western ideas of tonality: the inharmonicity-rich sonic universes multilinear instruments  generate are infinitely more complex.  If western pitch generation can be thought of as essentially one dimensional, instruments based on circles and curves are three dimensional.  In mathematical terms, the analogy would be the difference between arithmetic and topology.  In terms of conventional western theory they are bewildering, and generations of western theorists have dismissed them as “noise”.

I have listened to and read about gamelan music (whose theoretical sense of music is far less linear than that of the west)  for many years, but I am far from considering myself remotely knowledgeable about it.  My approach to building and playing “circular” instruments comes from a desire to explore and gain some understanding of the 3-D tonal universe.

Some of the Anarchestra instruments whose pitches are not essentially generated by proportions of lengths along straight lines.

bustelo 02 chilmark

Bustelo 02 Chilmark

pilon 02 chilmark

Pilon  02 Chilmark

daisy 04 santa fe

Daisy  04 Santa Fe

dish 04 santa fe

Dish  04 Santa Fe

props 11 Tucson

Props  11 Tucson

cymbcity 12 tucson

Cymbcity  12 Tucson

roarick 13 tucson copy

Roarick 13 Tucson

a collaboration with Niko Ewing

GnG 14 tucson

GnG  14 Tucson

cymbulate 14 tucson

Cymbulate  14 Tucson

reroar 15 Tucson

Reroar  15 Tucson

ungadi 16 tucson

Ungadi  16 Tucson

N'Sna 16 tucson

N’Sna  16 Tucson


Litulbelz  Tucson 16


Z’Orb  16 tucson

The same basic idea as Ben Franklin’s Glass Armonica, except the singing bowls are steel and played with rosined pearwood rather than wet fingers.



Xylophones are sets of objects (generally bars -steel in my case) of varying lengths that accordingly produce varying pitches (longer=lower).

youtube playlist of anarchestra xylophones

The primary decisions a xylophone builder is presented with are about selecting and ordering the pitches and what degree of muting or sustain is desired.

The mathematics of xylophones is pretty simple.

If a given length produces a tone (say D)

a bar .9715 of that length will produce a tone a chromatic step higher (say D-sharp)

a bar 1.0293 of that length will produce a tone a chromatic step lower (say D-flat)

assuming the bars of the same thickness and width.  Thicker bars produce higher pitches.

To mount the bar without deadening it the ideal place (called the node) is 22% in from each end of the bar.

The timbre of the bar is largely determined by the performer’s choice of striker —a softer mallet produces a slower attack and stronger low overtones and a harder one will produce a faster attack and stopnger high overtones.

Some Anarchestra xylophones:

pig 00 chilmark

Pig 00 Chilmark

Chromatic, low to high left to right, 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ bars

kyzyl kum 02 chilmark

Kyzyl Kum 02 Chilmark

Chromatic, high to low left to right, 1/8″ x 1 1/2″ bars.

An octave lower than Pig.

sir gamelan 01 chilmark

Sir Gamelan  01 Chilmark

A tongue drum with 3/16 plate

bootzilla 06 santa fe

Bootzilla 06 Santa Fe

Random order 1/8″ x 1/2″ bars

bootz 08 tucson.jpg

Bootz 08 Tucson

Chromatic, low to high, (seen from side) front to back, 1/8″ x 3/4″ bars

kresge 10 tucson.jpg

Kresge 10 Tucson

Chromatic, low to high, high to low, high to low, low to high front to back, 3//16″ x  1″ bars

X why? 11 tucson

X-why?  11 Tucson

Diatonic, ordered in thirds, 1/8″ x 1″ bars

louie trey 12 tucson

Louie Trey  12 Tucson

Chromatic, grouped in threes root-fifth-octave, minor thirds front to back, chromatic steps side to side, 1/8″ 3/16″ 1/4″ x 1″ bars

gamagam 12 tucson.JPG

Gamagang  12 Tucson

Chromatic, made from 7″ steel steps

forky 14 tucson

Forky  14 Tucson

Diatonic, low to high front to back, minor thirds left to right, 1/8″ 3/16″ 1/4″ x 1/2″ bars

chewbewler 15 tucson.JPG

Chewbewler 16 Tucson

Chromatic, random order 16ga x 1″ tubes



Reboot  17 Tucson

Bass xylophone with 8 keys than can be replaced and ordered in different ways.


Bith  17 Tucson

3/4 by 1/2 inch bars allow different pitches or both to be played.