The Theory of the Notes

by Rachael

First and foremost, I drew a picture of what I was going to do and asked if I could do it.  My Grandpa said, “Yes.”  Then I got some wood and some material, like cans and bottles of different sizes and shapes.  I looked in my Grandpa’s barn and in recycling to find these materials.  I started to work, then I tried out some different models, like which way I should screw the cans in on the board.   Then I picked which way I should do it and then that’s when I really got to work!

I laid a big piece of cardboard on the table so the table wouldn’t get scratched and then I put a 7/16” board on the table.  The board I put on the table was the base of my instrument.  Next I stood a 2” x 4” piece of wood on the top of the base standing up.  I held it up for my grandpa to screw it in because it’s too dangerous for me.  We did the same thing on the other side of the base.   After that, I put a 2” x 2” board on the top of the two boards on the base to finish my square frame. 

Then I thought to myself, “I want this to be a percussion instrument.”  I put my three biggest cans on the top board, but I put the cans in order from biggest to littlest.  And under the middle can on the top, I put the top for the middle can right under the board it was screwed to.  Then the littler cans I had I put them on the left side of the left board and I put them in order from the littlest to the biggest then the last can I put on the right side of the left board.  I put the last can sideways so you could see the bumps and so when you slide the sticks across it would make a cool noise.  On the right side I put little medicine bottles screwed to the board and one big apple sauce bottle. 

And then I went to Walmart with my mom, my sister and my brother and bought some paint, black, white, blue and then I went home and painted my project.  I put four music notes on the front of my project and painted most everything black and some things white and blue.  Because the sounds on my instrument are produced by tapping and hitting with sticks, the next thing I did was find some metal for my sticks and then I taped some tape around the bottom so people would know that’s the handle.

How I make my instrument’s pitch is when I want a higher pitch I hit the cans on the left side and when I want a lower pitch, I hit the containers on the right side or the biggest tin on the top.  I noticed the bigger the container I am hitting, the lower the pitch.  So if I am hitting the medicine jars on the right side, the bigger ones have a much lower pitch than the smaller ones.

I can change the dynamics on my instrument when I am playing by how hard or soft I hit it.  The harder I hit it, the louder the dynamics.  When I want a softer dynamic, I hit my instrument soft.

The timbre of my instrument is different depending on where you hit it.  For example, if you hit the medicine bottles or apple sauce bottle on the right, you can hear a hollow sound because of the plastic.  Now, if you hit the top cans or the cans on the side, you will hear a tinny or brassy sound.  And when you rub your metal sticks over the bumps on the side of the can, you can hear a clinky and twittery sound that is very noisy.  My instrument is VERY noisy.

I really liked making this instrument.  And it took me a couple of days to build and paint.  The planning took some time because of all the drawings I had to do.  If I had to do another project, I think it would be fun to make a real drum, but I don’t have enough money.  But overall, my instrument, “The Theory of the Notes” was fun to make and I am proud of how it turned out.