Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crystal Baschet

As many of you know, I have a fondness for unusual musical instruments. While listening to Cliff Martinez's excellent 80's-inflected soundtrack to excellent Ryan Gosling-containing action movie Drive, I heard many things that were a joy to my ears. Not only did the soundtrack make use of tasty, tasty modular analog synthesizers, it was also made liberal use of the crystal baschet, an instrument invented in 1952 by Bernard and Francois Baschet. It's a sculptural instrument played by stroking glass rods which are bound to metal bars, and which resonate through a set of plexiglass and metal resonators. According to the Baschet website, only 67 of the instruments have been made since the 1950's.

Martinez saw it first as a child, and has used it in a number of movies, where it “works marvelously during crime scenes, especially those featuring huge plumes of blood on the walls.”

When I was 10 years old my parents took me to the Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibit entitled Structures for sound. It was a collection of "musical sculptures" created by Francois and Bernard Baschet and it permanently reupholstered my brain. From that moment on, I knew that I not only wanted to be a musician, but a weird musician.
I love that. I've always wanted to be a weird musician, too.

Now, listen to this:

and this:

and this, which also features the glass armonica and the Ondes Martinot, as played by Thomas Bloch:

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