Friday, April 08, 2005
Invention Friday: What IF a violin were made from bamboo?
This week, we look at an actual invention: the “bamboolin” which I managed to listen to and try out in Pattaya at the MCGP Summer Music Camp. I tried to buy one, actually, but it seems that the inventor, who is a full-time school teacher, created the instrument so that under-funded students could have an opportunity to play – and not for commercial purposes.
The sound was with not much projection, due to the difficulty in creating large enough sound holes (the bamboo cracked in previous attempts, so the inventor, Jumpot Muangkling told me). Nevertheless, the bamboo created a certain tone quality I can only describe as sounding like wind through a tropical forest. It was almost like playing a Thai traditional instrument in the style of a violin, and two of its best qualities were the more organic sound – as contrasted to a metallic one – it produced, and the very smooth flow it had from one string to another. The main complication was that the physical intervals were much smaller, and the fingers had to adjust in shape because of the shape of the “scroll”.
The instrument was inspired by a Thai traditional dessert cooked in bamboo, proving to Napoleon that not only armies run on their stomachs – musicians too.