New to Music Instruments

Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Peter Wilcox » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:34 pm

Caley Hand wrote:I did, finally make a sound file, but I find there is no way to upload to this forum. And the recording is pretty poor, just giving a general idea of what the sound is like.


I don't know what format your sound file is, but you can upload short (<200k) mp3 files to the forum just like you can pics: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1656

You can record or convert to mp3 with this free program: https://www.audacityteam.org/
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:52 pm

Peter, Thanks for the link to Audacity. I downloaded and then tried to get Audacity to convert what I had recorded. Seems the new Windows 10 voice recorader does not create recognizable files that Audacity can work with. I will try to record with the new Audacity software. I sometimes think that Microsoft deliberately makes their software so that it cannot be used with anything but what they produce. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Peter Wilcox » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:28 pm

Can you right click on your sound file to get "open with" and then choose Audacity? I'm not familiar enough with Windows 10 to know how it records.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:31 pm

Peter, There was also a plug-in that the Audacity website has that works with the sound software. I had failed to download that because I didn't know about it until I browsed through the primary programs help files. Hopefully that will now let it convert the Windows file, though nothing is certain.

I ended up doing another recording. As you can hear, I still have some problems with my tines. I think some of it is that I have not glued the tine bridges to the support board yet. I know one on the end was rattling when I flicked the tine.

I guess I have done fairly well considering that this is the first instrument of any kind I have ever made. This first one is just for me to learn about how things done. Cutting the tines has been the most difficult part. Caley Ann
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Kalimba Demo.mp3 [ 91.33 KiB | Viewed 862 times ]
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Peter Wilcox » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:54 am

That sounds great, just like a kalimba! Now you just have to learn how to play it, the hard part. It's not so much the notes as the rhythm that's important.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:04 am

Peter, Thanks so much. That was just about 1/5th of the tines I need to install. Now that I have a pretty good idea how things go, I have been working on the shorter tines. Took me almost two hours to get seven done. So it will be a very long process

This is how I ended up on those seven tines that are made up of electricians 1/8x.062 fishing tape. The first is of course the note, and the number is how long they are in millimeters. Bb 94, F# 90, G 88.5, G# 87, A 85, B 82.5, C 80.5. I will continue to post these notes and lengths so that anyone wanting to do something like this has a starting point. Unfortunately I do no know what octave this new set is. I did not purchase an orchestral chromatic tuning meter which would have given me that information.

Just to let those know, these are unmodified tines. I did not grind them down any, other than to cut and round the ends; no indentations. The first ones i did, which are what is on the audio clip, those did have indentations made to bring them to tune, and those are basically the only ones that gave the strongest resonance. It may very well be that I may have to do the same to thin these down, which will change the notes. I guess I should do one tine below the ones that sound good to see how it sounds with the indentation modification. If it should resonate better, then I need to make that the norm for all of the tines.

Still learning how things work. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Peter Wilcox » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:38 pm

I spent a couple of years in equatorial Africa in the 1960's, and brought a kalimba back, though I can't find it now.

Here's a couple of videos of Congolese music from the late 20th century that I've enjoyed for a number of years (first found on a BBC program called World Music), prominently featuring amplified kalimbas. The social aspects are interesting too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJFpYV-Aw9Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Los0qjV9Ecg

And a couple of screen shots of the instruments (get yourself some guitar pickups to add.) :D

kalimba1.jpg


kalimba2.jpg


Here's a brief history of the instrument if you haven't seen it: https://www.kalimbamagic.com/newsletter ... toryII.pdf
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:35 pm

I've been browsing through the "KalimbaMagic" site since I started. I hadn't gotten to the history, but my brief skim of the article makes this instrument, and its predecessors with quite a long history. I've noted that some people have actually tried what the early Africans tried, using bamboo/wood as tines. Thank goodness we have carbon steel now. That doesn't fatigue quite like the older metals and the woods.

I got another 7 tines made, and am now taking a break. The process is very tedious. I now know how long to cut my next tine. I usually add 1mm to be safe, then shape the ends. I then mount it on the test board and check the note. It usually ends up being on the left of the meter for the note I wanted, and I then spend three or four rounds of carefully grinding the tine length down. Like I said, it is tedious, but it now seems that I do not need to cut the underside of the tine to produce the correct sound. leaving the tine clean on the underside just adds about 1.5mm to length, but produces the same note.

Instead of typing in the notes and tine lengths each time I complete a set of seven, I will make a chart, convert it to a PDF, and then post it. I think that is the best way. That way anyone wanting to know the tine specs can download the PDF. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:50 pm

Peter. rhythm, what is that. I got no rhythm at all. Might be why when I try to play a piano, it sounds like a load of scrap metal falling on top of other metal. :-)

My main thing here is creating the instrument that actually has a fair sound. I probably will have to find someone with some musical playing talent to actually give it a spin. One problem with my first experiment is that I create the bridge blocks for each tine that measured 1/2 inch wide. I now think I could have cut that down about 1/8 inch. That would have put the tines closer, and easier to reach. Like I said, this is all and experiment, and doing such things is what I call fun. I like solving problems. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:25 pm

Gents, my first attempt at building a musical instrument from scratch is done. Well, phase 1 is done. I am still trying to figure out how to get the shorter and longer tines to sound better. They sound weak, but for the most part I am happy

I have included two photos of the semi finished product, and a short sound burp of what the lower tines sound like.

I definitely need to figure out how the professional builders can make an array Mbira or chromatic Kalimba, that have strong resonance across the entire board. I'm sure they won't want to divulge their secrets, but somehow I need to figure it all out.

I will not be plucking on these tines too much for the next few days, as they have worn out the skin on a few of my fingertips. Maybe later I can try to learn how to play something easy like, "Ode to Joy" CaleyAnn
Attachments

Kalimba demo2.mp3 [ 109.1 KiB | Viewed 829 times ]
Experimental Kalimba Finished2.jpg
Experimental Kalimba Finished1.jpg
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:49 pm

I think I have figured how to get better resonance on my tines, to the right hand side, or about the last 12 tines. Seems that the middle ones work fine without any modification. But the shorter ones were basically thunking when plucked.

I had built a much small sound box out of a scrap piece of 2x6, about 10 inches long. I had hollowed it out as best I could, then slapped on a piece of the scrap maple panel I had used for my Zither back replacement.

I cut some shorter tines, then ground the underside down about 2/3rds the way through that tine. With that modification, there was a marked difference in its ability to send a vibration to the sound box, a much cleaner, sharper sound.

Lesson learned is that these thick tines cannot just be slapped on, but need to be modified somewhat to make them work.

As for the longer tines, I doubt I can make those work. I think their length is well beyond what is useable.

So it may very well be that I will have to create a whole new set of shorter tines with the underside modified, if I ever want to get this larger Kalimba to actually work completely across the board. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:30 am

More on the learning curve.

Yes, cutting the bottoms of the tines helps them resonate better, but unfortunately, they do not work well when ganged together under one metal piece that pushes them down between the bridges. What I am saying is that when you put more than two under one thing that keeps them in place with downward pressure, the outer ones lose something, and end up thunky just like unmodified tines, while the two center ones work just fine. If I move the outer tines to the center, and the center ones outward, then the two center substitutes work just fine, and the ones formerly in the center are now thunky.

I am beginning to see that quality Kalimbas with the specially engineered tine supports are the reason why those work better, and last longer. The big Kalimba that I just made with the separated tines on their own individual bridges are why most of those work. The outer ones just need some modification to increase their resonance.

Right now I am scratching my head on just how I can isolate each tine on a small Kalimba without creating the massive one like I just made. There has to be a way to secure the tines in the middle, bowing them down a bit, without having to use a CNC machine to create the specialized bridges that the well known Kalimba makers have to do. So I will again do more experimenting/research on what can be used to accomplish that. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Barry Daniels » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:03 pm

Nice looking instrument. I bet the bass notes would sound better with wider and thicker tines.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:15 pm

Barry, Thanks so kindly.

Based on my study of the Chromatic Kalimba that was shown on YouTube, it looks like that builder used thick Music Wire for the left tines.

So, I am guessing that if I pick up some of that same music wire, and tune them, that side should sound better.

And I am also guessing that the poor sounding tines on the right side of my instrument would do better with thinner thickness tines.

I am going to keep playing with the setup until I discover whatever makes those two outer sides sound better. It will just take time, as I take a lot of time learning what not works, before I finally get things right. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:00 pm

I've finally come to the conclusion that tines of certain thicknesses and cross sections can only cover so much of the musical spectrum, even when you modify them by filing the thickness.

I purchased another roll of electrician's fishing tape, this one being 1/8 x .045. The previous roll that I struggled with to create all the notes in three octaves, was 1/8 x .062.

Again, I created tines by length, and then adjusted the note by carefully filing the bottom until I hit the desired note. I did this for about 1 1/2 octaves.

When I started plucking the tines of the entire keyboard, I noted that some of the old thicker tines sounded very much like some of the newer thinner tines. I checked with the meter, and they were exactly the same. So I can only get about 1.25 octave with each thickness of fishing tape.

This means I will have to purchase music wire from about .07 to possibly .110 in order to create the other octaves I wish on my a little over three octave Kalimba.

I had originally purchased a chromatic tone meter, a very basic Korg one. After some use, I realized I needed something more accurate, an orchestral type meter that also provides the octave numbers. I hope this will help me learn just what range each sized tine or music wire has. I get the feeling that it is going to be one sized tine or wire per octave in order to not get overlap.

You may ask why I am going to all this trouble, and the answer is just to learn, and satisfy my own insatiable want to solve problems. I've been like this ever since I was maybe around age 5. It drove my parents nutso, and it got the kids always picking on me. Both, in their own ways were attempting to stunt my want to figure things out, even when it sometimes became obsessive, and yes, I sometimes get obsessive. I guess you can call me the female version of the "Mad Scientist". :-) CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:19 pm

If you have a smart phone there are some really good tuning apps out there. They can be just as accurate as a stand alone tuner.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:33 pm

I don't own a cell phone. The reason is that for most of my working life I was hitched to either a beeper/pager or a cell phone so I could be contacted 24/7/365. I kinda hate phones for that reason. Anyway, I have the two tuners, the cheaper chromatic that I will try to sell for say $10 plus shipping. CaleyAnn
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