Now and again, you might think you’ve seen it all. Spades turned into guitars, pedals running off candles, that kind of thing. Then along comes the internet and teaches you not to be so cynical. Enter the Pyrophone, an organ that generates sound using flames.
The concept, apparently, has been around since the late 19th century, invented by a certain Georges F E Kastner in 1875. Somehow, I seem to have missed all the concerts featuring this unusual instrument, at least around my neck of the woods. Maybe it’s to do with normal organs being just ever so slightly less dangerous.
As far as I can gather, the Pyrophone works like this: there are glass tubes in different lengths, like organ pipes, which are fed with a hydrogen flame at the bottom. The airflow is regulated to divide the flames up, each vibrating in its tube to create a different sound. It’s not an instrument that always sounds clean, though, and evidently needs meticulous set up. You can find out more on Wikipedia here.
Now, a few young experimental artists have got into the pyrophone and built new models you can control via MIDI. Sound balmy but cool at the same time, I’d love to see this in action. If you know of any live performances coming up, let us know in the comments below. Check out some of these videos, though. One is called “Noise From AN Unsteady Flame” – what a great name for an album!