Weird of the Day: Hans Reichel and his daxophone

Hans Reichel
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Today’s weirdness comes to use from reader Jake (not to be confused with TWBITW co-founder Jake, who’s passed out under my desk as I type this). It’s a piece of music featuring a unique and not nearly famous enough instrument called the daxophone, performed by its inventor, a German luthier named Hans Reichel. It sounds a bit like a ballet for frogs, and every time we play it, we can’t stop laughing.

The daxophone works with a combination of contact microphones and friction: a thin piece of wood gets attached to a tripod, and from there, the musician uses a thicker block of wood and a violin bow to change the vibrational frequency of the wooden blade. Think of it as the overachieving offspring of a musical saw and a lap steel guitar. Different blade shapes also produce different tones, and Reichel produced dozens of them, all of which stand as beautiful artworks unto themselves.

Reichel passed away in 2011 at the age of 62, but his daxophone lives on; although he never mass-produced the instrument, he made the plans for it available for free on his website (in the downloads section), so other woodworkers and instrument makers could make their own versions of it.


3 thoughts on “Weird of the Day: Hans Reichel and his daxophone

  1. Steve S

    Oh….ha ha ha ha ha! I cannot agree more with the comment about laughing, and yes it does sound like a chorus of frogs! However, if you continue listening you can only wonder at the tenacity of the inventor to discover the many different sounds possible from his weird invention … I did wonder whether some ‘vocalisations’ were used, or possibly whether a stray cat or two were accidentally added into the mix! Oh, I’ve just had to play it again and it has exactly the same effect! I am going to have to share this with all and sundry! Thank you!

    1. Jake

      If you’re interested, I found this on a compilation album called “Gravikords, Whirlies, and Pyrophones (Experimental Musical Instruments)”. I don’t think there’s anything on there that’s quite as good as this, but it’s worth checking out if you’re into this kind of stuff.

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