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   
                  'o                               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
       type playing)
     * I notch both wooden pieces to attach the crossarm, but anything
       will work
     * 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
       will do
     * 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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