MAKING YOUR OWN
By Dennis Havlena
NOTE: 5 additional photos
and a sound sample of this instrument are available. Click
here for information.
Hi from the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan.
A while ago there was a topic being thrown about on a usenet music
group concerning "whirligigs" -- sort of a cousin to the bullroarer
utilizing a rubber-band affixed to a light crucifix-shaped (*) frame
at the end of which is a handle. The thing sounds by either whirling
it while grasping the handle or by waving it vigorously up & down in
any number of ryhthmic patterns. (*) In my case.
I did a considerable amount of experimentation with them and am here
to describe the simple construction of what I judge to be the best.
When played in conjunction with a didgeridu (tuned to the whirligig --
I use a trombone-style d'du) the overall effect can be quite powerful.
Here's the plan :
o = put rubberband here
,o Horizontal stick is 21" long
o Io vertical stick is 7 1/2" long
o Io handle is about 4" long
o Io H
o Io H
* I used 1/2" x 1/2" cedar wood but about anything will work
(although the lighter the better for "non-rotating", arm-swinging
* I notch both wooden pieces to attach the crossarm, but anything
* Affix handle to "boom" with loose screw to allow for free rotation
* Use "office-type", 1/4" wide rubber-band.
* The route of the rubber-band forms a triangle but only two sides
of this triangle vibrate (the band along the third side lays right
against the wood)
* I used a piece of dowel-rod for the handle, but nearly anything
* By adjusting one half of the band tighter than the other, you can
tune the beast to a 2-note chord. My favorite is a do-sol (1-5)
ratio. I should note here that for some reason the plucked note
pitches are not quite the same as the "whirled" or swung pitches
(!) so the fine-tuning must be done so that the thing is in tune
while in motion.
Two of these things can be used "arm-swinging/pendulum" style (the
four notes tuned to a chord) to create some pretty wierdly attractive
Dennis Havlena - W8MI
Later note: I was rather amused to see my design of whirligig in the
final segment (the big-concert scene) of the movie, "August Rush"!
I certainly did not invent the whirligig, but I can find no other
indication anywhere on the internet that this particular design was used
before I came up with it. Let me know if you find otherwise.
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