Disquiet Junto Project 0289: Ancient Artifacts

Disquiet Junto Project 0289: Ancient Artifacts
Imagine a forgotten instrument and make music with it.

Step 1: Imagine an instrument that has been lost in the sands of time.

Step 2: Imagine what that instrument sounded like.

Step 3: Record a piece of music employing that instrument. (Be sure to describe your instrument’s history in an accompanying note.)

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0289” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In this following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 17, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant, though roughly three minutes is suggested.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0288” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution). Keep an eye on the license of the audio you source, as that may determine the license you end up using.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 289th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Ancient Artifacts: Imagine a forgotten instrument and make music with it. — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:


There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Flickr member Zolakoma, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:




The project is now live.

Crikey, hadn’t heard about any problems with Soundcloud. I’ve been posting my work on archive.org in the hopes that it will be there long after I go (at least, that’s my best case scenario). I have also been working on a longer piece that I probably will not post on Soundcloud because I do not want to use up all of my minutes.

Anyways, thanks for the heads up, let’s cross the fingers and hope for the best.

Cheers -


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absolutely spectacular prompt! if anyone needs inspirations from the ancients, let julian cope be thy guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=falVe_vkejE





An ensemble one night in the desert…


So, here’s my submission - made using “The dronaphone” by forgotten Canadian composer: Alexander Nowell.
Dating from sometime in the early 1950s and building on both the experimental instruments and sound art of Harry Partch and Harry Bertoia and also Hugh Le Caine’s pioneering Electronic Sackbutt, “The Dronaphone” by now almost forgotten Canadian composer: Alexander Nowell, seeks to marry all these ideas into one single instrument in much the same way as Chas Smith’s sculptural sound objects do today.

Nowell was inspired by Indian drone music in much the same way as La Monte Young was and decided to build his own instrument to further explore this in his own compositions.
“The Dronephone” consists of two sections. A series of chromatic metal bars with contact microphones are attached to a large wooden cabinet within which are a series of rotating, resonant metal plates, also with contact mics attached. The plates (whose rotation is controlled by an external footpedal much like the speed control of a leslie speaker on a Hammond Organ) are used to create a drone that the performer can play over using the metal bars above. These can be dampened or left to ring thanks to a felt damper bar underneath them control by a simple lever at the side. The signals from the various contact mics are mixed and amplified by tube circuitry and set out through a speaker mounted within the cabinet.
Sadly, only one “Dronaphone” was ever constructed and has since been either lost or destroyed. All that remains are a series of test recordings of it by Nowell himself, that have only recently been unearthed. There is hope that the complete archive of recordings will now be remastered and made available to the public and an initiative to create a modern replica of “the Dronaphone” is already underway.




The playlist has begun:

Crossed Out

The new owner of what used to be a children’s school in Ballyfinnane, Co. Tipperary (in green, albeit damp, Ireland) was digging about in the adjacent bog with plans of erecting a guest house.

Quite unexpectedly he unearthed a strange object that looked like a harp, but strung wrong.

He showed it to some locals, who in turn got ahold of an expert in Celtic history and lore who also happened to run the local pub.

What was found was a remarkably preserved crossed harp. It resembled a standard harp (notably present on a bottle of Harp Lager) with a curious string arrangement.

Rather than have the strings run straight up and own, a crossed harp was strung such that strings crossed over other strings, touching one another.

There were believed to be two “standard” (for a such a thing) variations: strings run such that they looked like a series of "X"s, and strings strung such that they appeared to be a series overlapping zigzags.

The instrument was believed to have originated in the Celtic Bronze Age, and metal strings were used. As the strings touched, the resulting sound was quite unlike a standard harp. Here, we had a far more percussive noise.

It was believed (if oral tradition is to be trusted) that performers would pluck the string and, at times, smack them with a stick. Assorted tones would be produced by pulling on a string while plucking/hitting a touching string.

There is, of course, no record of any notated music.

For reasons unknown the instrument never spread from this part of Tipperary and before long disappeared entirely.

Until now.

What’s presented here is, thus far, the only recorded crossed harp music in the world.

Bain sult as an ceol!

Meta-post: Is there a way to get a playable Bandcamp embedded link? What I’m seeing with my post is that the Bandcamp rendering is linking to Bandcamp; it will not play while remaining on this page.


Outstanding music and story. Thanks for this!

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Very nice! I appreciate the back-story as well.

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I put together a little orchestra, coming together in ancient times, taking psycho-active substances, playing and dancing into trance, to reach a state of mind where they could talk with the gods. Their instruments were hollowed tree trunks, sea shells, tanks of turtles, horns from antilopes, dried fuits, stones,the flute of course, everything you could take and produce sounds with.
This is my attempt at playing on ancient instruments.


Flicking my cheeks wasn’t my first idea for an ancient instrument but it made sense to me to play with sounds made by the human body.

I can imagine sitting in a cave and listening to the reflected sound of flicked cheeks.


The metanoiaphone is a reed instrument constructed out of leather, wood, and sometimes bone. It resembles the tusk of a rhinoceros with two horizontal pull levers jutting out each side. Its name comes from the root word μετάνοια, which means “to have a shift in one’s mind.”

The metano (as it’s commonly called) originated in the mountainous Prespa Lakes region of West Macedonia, one of the most remote parts of Greece. A single road takes visitors over the Haliacmon River just south of Polyfytos, the hilltop village where the first metano is believed to have been made.

To play a metano, one blows into the mouthpiece while grasping a lever on each hand, slowly alternating push-pull motions on either side — something like pedaling a bicycle, only using arms instead of legs. Different notes are the result of shifts in lever position, hence the name.

The sound of a metano is rich and throaty, often mistaken for a ram’s bleat when heard from a distance. With proper breath control, it’s possible to extend a note indefinitely by slowly rotating the arms to draw out a smooth, even tone.

By the 1950’s, owning a metano had become a symbol of status among the musical elite in Germany and Great Britain. Legend has it that any instruments that made their way north were likely stolen from villages during the Balkan Campaign of World War II.

Very few recordings of the metano exist today, and Suss Müsik owns one of them. It was purchased by chance in 1988 from a tiny Thessaloniki record shop that smelled of mothballs and grilled meat. Just below a Tuxedomoon poster was this filthy cardboard box full of cassette tapes. We bought the entire box for 500 drachmas, the equivalent of about three US dollars.

The except you hear is from a piece written by the obscure Greek composer Den Katalaveno. It’s titled Κομμάτι για μετάνοιαφωνο και την ορχήστρα του δωματίου (Piece for Metanoiaphone and Chamber Orchestra). The rest of the tape has unfortunately deteriorated with age and is unplayable.


The decline of SoundCloud has been ongoing for awhile now, although the latest developments seem to harbor an acceleration to extinction. Reportedly they only have funding until Q4 2017 and are running a skeleton crew. It’s very sad.

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this is ¶radio hummingbird’s contribution to this week’s disquiet junto with the serial number 0289. in short, the requirement for this contribution was to record a piece of music which has been created with an imagined instrument, ancient and forgotten.

in 1876 a german archaeologist discovered a sacred site in central mongolia which is believed to be pre-stone age. the site is located within a vast cavern system deep under the tavan bogd mountain range. amongst an incredible amount of previously unseen artefacts was an object presumed to be a wind instrument made of an unidentified material. it has been described as a “vorsteinzeitliches schwinghorn” (engl: pre- stone age swinging horn) as it creates its unique sound through a vibrating membrane inside its sinuous tube.
this recording is a long lost take from the moment when the archaeologist in chief tried to explore the musical qualities of this artefact in the cave. it has just recently been re-discovered in the ulaanbaatar national archive and this is the first time it is being shared with the public.

this piece has been created using a 30 second cassette tapeloop, a used pill packaging, some bubblewrap and most importantly a wine glass and water. a looping and delay pedal were utilised during the production as well.

this piece of sound has been an unplanned and completely spontaneous creation, at first not even meant to be for this project. upon listening to the mess i made, i realised that it would fit this week’s disquiet assignment better than i could have hoped and thus: here it is. enjoy…

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The Transcendental Fibrolator is an obscure instrument last spotted in the wild at a flea market in Peru, where it was being used as a paperweight. This is a reconstruction made of seemingly broken C++ code, with attention given to the original design’s discrete-transistor point-to-point wiring employing specially treated, electrically conductive strands of Alpaca hair.


Long, long, long time ago, before men or women could make instruments, they captured Water Bears and put them in an aquarium(yes, back then they were capable of making aquariums). This song is pre-ancient instrument time! It’s a bunch of Water Bears communicating in an aquarium… probably about Soundcloud :wink:


Have a nice day,



The nature of the instrument captured in this recording can only be speculated upon as this is the only known record of its existence. Carbon dating of a core sample from the sands of time from which this was recovered place it a few centuries prior to Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville’s recording of ‘Au Clair De La Lune’. My best guess is that it was hand-cranked, hollow-bodied, and would need to have been roughly the size of a piano to produce the levels of resonance that we can hear. The crank probably operated a pinned barrel which would pluck a series of lamellae and raise levered hammers which would then strike a length of bevelled woodblock upon their release. It is perhaps more interesting to question how this recording came into being, since sound recording technology was not even a thing when this recording was made. Imagine that!