Johannes Bergmark’s Musical Instrument Gallery 1

Photos © by Johannes Bergmark, except where indicated.

This page contains RealAudio files to listen to as you please. If you don't have RealAudio, you will need to go first and download the free G2 player. Of course, these sounds don't have the same quality as the full-length original recordings, which for the most part are from the cd "Johannes Bergmark's Material Music". Order it here.

Johannes Bergmark has constructed his own musical instruments since about 1990, as a result in particular, of the visit to Chicago and the instrument designer Hal Rammel. Like Rammel, Bergmark’s instruments are made in order to be played by the maker in an improvised setting. The making of instruments coincides in time with Bergmark’s classical education to a piano builder, and the first experiments were made in the school’s workshop.

[Butter Bass]

The earliest of these, the Butter Bass is simply made of a butter box (so it was told to him) and a single piano string. Drawing from the inspiration of a dream, the instrument was supposed to be played standing on one foot while the other would support the butter box resonator. For practical reasons, it is now played sitting, with both feet on the box and the thong around the neck.

Listen to the Butter Bass in Real Audio.

[Maiden Crown & Clay Didjeridu]

The Maiden Crown and the Clay Didjeridu are made of clay. The first is bowed and played percussively, while the other is played as a didjeridu.

[Bergmark playing the Stringed Stirrups]

Photo from video © by Alejandro Vega-Fredes

The Stringed Stirrups or Angel Strings has, like the butter bass, loose piano strings going through loops on a resonator, but the resonator is tied around the musician’s chest. He is giving tension to the two strings standing in the lower end stirrups, thus hanging suspended from the ceiling in the strings. It is played with two bows and specially made wooden beaters. Sometimes the longitudinal vibrations of the strings are excited with rosined gloves. It is amplified with a contact microphone.

[Bergmark playing the Stringed Stirrups, closer look]

The Stringed Stirrups, a closer look. Photo from video © by Alejandro Vega-Fredes

See a large picture of Bergmark playing the Stringed Stirrups, photo © by Gudrun Edel-Rösnes.
... and take a closer look at the instrument itself!

Listen to the Stringed Stirrups in Real Audio.

[Hedgehog & Silver Tongue]

Photo © by Christian Werner

The Hedgehog and the Forked Silver Tongue are both played with a bow against the edge of a table, using the table as the resonator. The first one is wooden and also has upright rods on it.

[Glass Shade Bells]

The Glass Shade Bells are simply found lamp shades of glass, all with their own pitch and timbre.

[Metal Harp]

The Metal Harp is a cupper tube with triangular iron plates of different sizes molded in a circle around it. It is played with a bow, spun around in the lap, or scraped or struck percussively. It can also be played as a flute or a trumpet.

Listen to the Metal Harp in Real Audio.

[Bergmark playing the Finger Violin]

Photo © by Greg Locke

The Finger Violin is made of two violin-shaped wooden plates with five piano strings through them. One of the plates is held behind the left arm to keep tension, the other, which has a contact microphone, is held under the chin just like an ordinary violin. The strings are fastened in wooden rings on the left hand’s finger tips.

Listen to the Finger Violin in Real Audio.

The Musical Instrument Gallery, Part 2.


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Updated the 29th of December 1999.