Home > I Made a Thing! > Metal Clarinet

Metal Clarinet

What I really wanted to do was machine metal.  I’d been anxious to try it out on a real honest-to-goodness mill for years, and after reading all kinds of guides and manuals I was ready to hit the ground running.  During my last semester at Brown the art department acquired a mill and a lathe, and as soon as they were unveiled for student use I pretty much moved into the workshop.

This project was my attempt to create a sectional clarinet out of aluminum tubing and brass.  The sound is produced with a wood reed just like a traditional clarinet, but there are no keys or valves–in that respect it is similar to an old instrument called a chalumeau, sort of like a recorder with a clarinet’s mouthpiece and reed.  The pieces connect together with a 1.5˚ taper–what this means is the sections fit together with gentle pressure, and then stay connected until they’re twisted apart.

You’d think that a metal instrument might sound a bit tinny or, well, metallic.  But much to my surprise, it sounds pleasantly warm and woody!  It’s a bit hard to play, but then it’s the first woodwind I’ve ever played, so probably that’s my own inexperience.

Categories: I Made a Thing!
  1. August 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Waaaaaaaaaaah. Way too wonderful.

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