Music in the machine

Tim Kaiser is a different kind of scientist. For the last 25 years, he has been manipulating the physical properties of everyday objects to create new and interesting sounds and instruments.

By understanding the basic physics of sound production, Kaiser can recognize what objects might make interesting sounds, and what sort of modifications he could make to change those sounds. The metal body of a floor lamp, for example, might resonate nicely… but what if you strung it with long springs and plugged it in to an electric guitar amplifier? It looks like a bass from the future, and you can get some pretty cool sounds out of it!

Check out the “Upright Hammered String Bass” and Tim Kaiser’s other creations at his website,

After he gets the sound right, Tim Kaiser adds visual accents to his instruments. A Geiger counter and a telephone receiver don’t affect the sound of a Theremin, but they sure look cool.

Photo courtesy Sam Alvar