by Tamsyn

October 24, 2016

Spooky Sounds

It is easy to take sound effects for granted, especially in the modern world of technology, but we have been making fun and spooky sounds on musical instruments for thousands of years.  Let's take a look at a few!

The harp

The Aeolian harp is a harp specifically made to be played by the wind.  The wind can create all kinds of eerie sounds.  In the case of this video, a traditional harp is played, with the microphone placed inside of the harp's cavity in order to avoid the sound of the wind blowing into the microphone.

The prepared piano

John Cage was infamous for his experiments in sound.  The prepared piano was one that especially made headlines, as he would place screws, nails, wooden dowels, cutlery, and other such items on and around the strings in order to create unusual sounds.  For Cage, the beauty of the prepared piano was that an entire ensemble of percussion instruments could easily be played by one musician.

Overtone Singing

Overtone singing is a technique where the singer produces the fundamental pitch alone, allowing for overtones to distinctly heard and emphasized.  Very few singers can do this, but it is an amazing skill that can be developed.  Anna-Maria Hefele has created several videos about this kind of singing and how to do it.

Other Traditional Instruments

New Instruments

While sound effects are fun to make on traditional instruments, there is plenty of room for innovation and invention!  I have touched on electronic instruments in the past, my favorite being the theremim.  But today I want to introduce you to Alex Ferris, a composer and inventor who has created hundreds of new instruments.  You can learn more about his anarchestra on his blog.

Oh the sounds you can make!  Spooky sounds, fun sounds, happy and sad sounds.  Exploration of sound is one of the things that makes music so exciting.  Shake things up and see what kind of fun sounds you can come up with!

About the author 


My name is Tamsyn and I love music. I got my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from USU. I spent many years teaching private piano lessons until I had children of my own. I have attended several children workshops on how to teach children music. I really like the Kodaly method, but have adapted a lot of different techniques for my own children.

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