Category Archives: Instruments

Wind Instruments: Lip-buzzed

Lip-buzzed instruments are trumpets, tubas, hunting horns, etc. that make their sound by pfffting ones lips.

single reed instruments

I don’t make very many of these.
lip buzzed 00-03 chilmark

Toobad, Boner, Strumpet, Borgesophones 1 & 2  Chilmark 00-03


Toobad  Chilmark 01



Wind Instruments: Reeds

Reeds may be either single (clarinet, saxophone, etc.) or double (oboe, bassoon. etc.).

reed instruments

I have made lots (scores) of these to obtain different timbres and pitchsets.  I consciously chose to make multiple instruments instead of single instruments with multiple functions so that playing them could be more intuitive than reliant on technique and encourage a more “folkmusical” approach generally.

Most of them use Clarinet mouthpieces and few use a Baritone Saxophone mouthpiece or a Soprano Saxophone mouthpiece.

Saxophone was my primary instrument during my late teens and early twenties and I consider reeds the most personal sounding family of instruments –in terms of the waveforms/harmonics they generate they are the closest to those of the human voice and the same instrument will sound fundamentally different when played by a different person.  Breath-dependent instruments very naturally tend to bring a more conversational/less mechanical quality to instrumental music, allowing it to be vocal without prompting a listener to expect (and analyze) verbal content.

Some of the reed instruments of anarchestra:

reeds pentatonic & modal 02-08 chilmark-santa fe- tucson

Single Reeds  Chilmark-Santa Fe  02-08

copper whistle & double reeds 05-10 santa fe-tucson

Double Reeds  Santa Fe-Tucson 05-10

reeds 01-06 chilmark-santa fe b

reeds 01-06 chilmark-santa fe a

Reeds  Chilmark-Santa Fe  01-06

reeds diatonic 08-10 tucson b

Reeds  Tucson 08-10

reeds random 04-08 santa fe-tucson

Reeds (copper and steel)  Santa Fe-Tucson 04-08

low reeds chilmark-santa fe-tucson 02-16

Low Reeds  Chilmark-Santa Fe-Tucson  01-16

contrabass coil

Contrabass Coil  Tucson 16

DJ Flatus

DJ Flatus  Tucson 12

DJ Flatus

Not exactly a traditional reed instrument, but . . .





Wind Instruments: Edge-Toned

flutes on piano

There are three basic categories of wind instruments (edge-toned, reeds, lip-buzzed) based on how their sounds are produced.

playlist of anarchestra wind instruments on youtube

Edge-toned refers to flutes, pan-pipes, and ocarinas, all of which produce their sounds in basically the same way as blowing over the edge of a bottle does.  Pan-pipes work as sets of single tubes, Ocarinas work as bottles whose volumes of air can be altered by opening and/or closing holes, Flutes work as tubes that can be lengthened or shortened by opening and/or closing holes.  The difference between flutes and ocarinas is that on flutes the holes need to be played in order as air will sound only at the shortest length while on ocarinas the effect of opening the holes is cumulative, essentially shrinking the size of the resonant cavity.

I make a lot (scores) of these (flutes in particular) to obtain different timbres, ranges, and modes/tunings.  Early on I decided that making multiple instruments with individual qualities was preferable to making fewer, more complex, instruments that required more specialized techniques.  My desire is that the “breathing instruments” are as intuitive as possible to play so that the player’s state of mind is closer to singing (wordlessly) than executing a mechanical task.

Some of the edge-toned instruments of anarchestra:

ocarinas 05 santa fe

Ocarinas  Santa Fe 05

These are made from old school (steel, i.e., pre-plastic) fishnet buoys that my brothers and I found washed ashore on the beach as a boy.

ocarina tree 02-06 chilmark-santa fe

Ocarina Tree  Chilmark-Santa Fe 02-06

On the left are four slidewhistles (Furtwangler) , on the right are four ocarinas made from propane tanks, hanging below is a fishnet buoy ocarina.  The copper dome functions as a sound collector enabling all the instruments to use a single microphone.

steel flutes 01-02 chilmark

Steel Flutes  Chilmark 01-02

Two of these are side blown and two are end blown.

flutes random 04-09 santa fe-tucson

Round Flutes  Santa Fe-Tucson 04-09

square flutes 12-15 Tucson

Square Flutes  Tucson 12-15


Fourflusher  Tucson 12

This device allows a player to change keys without needing to put down and pick up separate instruments.

doubleplay 10 tucson

Doubleplay  Tucson 10

A device which allows one to play two flutes simultaneously.

panpipe copper 10 tucson

Copper Panpipes  Tucson 10

panpipes high 10 tucson

Steel Panpipes (high)  Tucson 10

panpipe low 10 tucson

Steel Panpipes (low)  Tucson 10

slide whistles 03 chilmark

Slidewhistles  Chilmark 03

Slidewhistles are tubes that behave the same way ocarinas do.

Furtwangler 02 chilmark

Furtwangler  Chilmark 02

Four slidewhistles playable simultaneously.

flutes & panpipes 02-06 chilmark-santa fe b

flutes & panpipes 02-06 chilmark-santa fe a

Flutes, Panpipes and Slidewhistles  Chilmark-Santa Fe 02-06


Ch’org  Tucson 16

A fire organ played with propane torches.


9 ports for activating twenty-seven flutes.  Can be ordered to whatever tuning.





Fretted strings

Some of the fretted instruments of Anarchestra.  Most of the frets are (re)movable.

stopped strings playlist on youtube

peddlar 01 chilmark

Pedlar  Chilmark 01

Six strings stroked or hit with four footpedals to alter pitch.

bosco 01-03 chilmark

Bosco  Chilmark 01-03

A three stringed fretted neck and a two stringed unfretted neck sharing a resonator.

dubass 01 chilmark

Dubass  Chilmark 01

Pitch controlled by pedal operated frets.

basuka 02 chilmark

Basuka  Chilmark 02

A three stringed bass.

quesera 05 santa fe

Quesera  Santa Fe 05

who evolved into

spike 05-09 santa fe-tucson

Spike  Tucson 09

twobe 08 tucson

Twobe  Tucson 08

Two stringed bass.

horzba 08-10 tucson

Horzba  Tucson 08

Six string bass shown with two frets.

horzba (2) 14 tucson

Horzba (2) Tucson 14

With changed frets.

prout 08 tucson

Prout  Tucson 08

Three pairs of strings sounded by levered fret mechanism.

seegar 08 tucson

Seegar  Tucson 08

Two drone strings and a fretted playing string.

digger 09 tucson

Digger  Tucson 09

Two drone strings, two fretted playing strings.

venus 10 tucson

Venus  Tucson 10

Two stringed (usually) bowed instrument.

bows 09-10 tucson

Bows  Tucson 09-10

augie & dim 10 tucson

Augie and Dim  Tucson 10

Angie with three strings, Dim with four.

dovertue 13 Tucson

Dovertue  Tucson 13


Bang-O  Tucson 14

lilD 14 tucson

Lil D  Tucson 14

unstyungo 16 tucson

Unstyungo  Tucson 16

One drone string, one variable by roller string.

gorstra 16 tucson

Gorstra  Tucson 16

Three long strings, fretted or hammered-on by six movable spring-action frets.


Lorend  18 Tucson

Three low guitar strings and adjustable frets.


Unfretted Strings

Some of the non-fretted stringed instruments of Anarchestra.

stopped strings playlist on youtube

la bas 00 chilmark

La Bas  Chilmark 00

mickey one 03 chilmark mckeytoo 04 santa fe

Mickey One  Chilmark 03 and  McKeytoo  Santa Fe 04

Single stringed (usually) bowed instruments played with slides.

banderslide 05 santa fe phorques 03 chilmark

Banderslide  Santa Fe 05 (fr) and Phorques  Chilmark 03

The strings on these are bandsaw blades.

basicable 04 santa fe

Basicable  Santa Fe 04

The strings are braided wire rope.

monte 05 santa fe built by Myles Thurlow

Monte  Santa Fe 05

Built by Myles Thurlow

oo-ee-ood 06-09 santa fe-tucson

Oo-ee-ood  Santa Fe 06

too sly for one 04-06 santa fe

Two Sly for One  Santa Fe 04-06

Three instruments sharing one stand.

rollers & slide 04 santa fe

Rollers and slides  Santa Fe 04

retardog 09-11 tucson

Retardog  Tucson 09-11

P-Wreck 11 tucson

P-Wreck  Tucson 11

Eleven strings played with two slides.

B-Dex 12 tucson

B-Dex  Tucson 12

Three strings played with bow and slide.  Four sympathetic strings.

ernestone 12 tucson

Ernestone  Tucson 12

Even though this has frets (since removed), it is played with a slide.

bastid 14 tucson

Bastid  Tucson 14



Haramzadi  Tucson 17


Nanbarrow  17 Tucson

17 tunable strings playable clockwise and counterclockwise.  They are amplified by two pickups which can be selected or not.






Hurdy Gurdies

I call these hurdy-gurdies because they are stringed instruments played by wheels (thus producing a continuous sound) and nobody seems to have given such instruments a generic name.

playlist of anarchestra hurdy-gurdies on youtube

Some of the wheel-played instruments of Anarchestra.

wheely wheely 03-04 chilmark-santa fe

Wheely-Wheely  Chilmark 03

This wheel is covered with felt and plays a single string.

bite my crank 04 santa fe

bite my crank detail

Bite My Crank  Santa Fe 04

The uncoated aluminum wheel plays two strings, whose pitches can be altered by the two small pulleys hanging at the right.

gurd 06 santa fe

gurd detail

Gurd  Santa Fe 06

Four aluminum wheels driven by bike pedals play eight strings, four of which are played by a slide.

The aluminum wheeled instruments tended to screech.

basok 10-11 tucson

Basok  Tucson 10

One day Kino School shop-teacher Ed Davis brought his class to visit.  One of the students asked what a crank and shaft arrangement was for and I told him it was for a hurdy-gurdy.  He asked Ed what a hudry-gurdy was and Ed answered that it was a stringed instrument played by a leather wheel.  I had read everything I could find on hurdy-gurdies and had never come across anyone using leather (traditional hurdy-gurdies have wooden wheels).  Ed’s innate mechanical common sense prompted me to try leather for my wheels and I have been using it ever since.  Basok was the first of these.  It plays a single string and has a set of adjustable keys to effect the pitch.

gurdiad 10-11 tucson

 Gurdiad  Tucson 11

A leather wheel driven by a for pedal with two strings played by sets of keys.

turd 11 tucson

Turd  Tucson 11

Similar to Gurdiad, but with fretted neck.

Furth 13 Tucson

Furth  Tucson 12

Similar to Basok but with a fretted neck.  Where basok has an A string furth has a D.



Bigur  Tucson 17

Two drone strings and two fretted strings.



open-stringed instruments

Most of the common stringed instruments of the westworld are stopped-stringed, meaning that one hand controls the pitch (with or without frets) and the other hand excites them.

The open-stringed group consists or what are called harps, zithers, dulcimers, etc.  They are far more common in non-euroamerican parts of the world.  They offer opportunities to play with one hand and without the clenched fist required to play instruments with necks.  In addition they aren’t predisposed to right handed people.  They can be strummed, plucked, or struck and so tend to offer a variety of approaches and usages.

Some of these can seen played and yacked about on youtube

and here

Some of the open-stringed instruments of anarchestra.

harp 02 chilmark

Harp  Chilmark 02

pharo 03 santa fe

Pharo  Santa Fe 03

gurney 05 santa fe

Gurney  Santa Fe 05

trizome 06 santa fe built with Gaspard Cabanes

Trizome  Santa Fe 06

This was builtd in collaboration with Gaspard Cabanes.

king lyre 06 santa fe music box

King Lyre  Santa Fe 06

hendecq 10 tucson

Hendecq  Tucson 10

dron 11 14 tucson

Dron  Tucson 11

fumious 11 tucson

Fumious  Tucson 11

These strings are bandsaw blades

cuth 12 tucson

Cuth  Tucson 12

Wound piano strings with a satellite dish resonator.

Ena 12 tucson

Ena  Tucson 12

This has banks of three strings tuned to approximately the same pitch which gives each a ‘detuned’ sound (similar to that heard in gamelan music or from chorus pedals).

farp 14 tucson

Farp  Tucson 14

Four harps that can be tuned to whatever function requires and played by up to four players at once.  When a single player is playing a single harp the remaining three act as sympathetic strings.

gurnagin 14 tucson

Gurnagin  Tucson 14

regur 2014 tucson

Regur  Tucson 14

stigo 15 tucson

Stigo  Tucson 15

dyadolce 15 tucson

Dyadolce  Tucson 15

Paired strings (that play dyads) with adjustable bridges.

The building of it can be seen on youtube.