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Sound In Movies - The Waterphone

posted on 28/04/2015

Music and sound can be created in a variety of ways using different instruments and objects to create wonderfully new and unique sounds. We all know the story of how Star Wars achieved the lightsaber sound using a microphone and speaker. But what about those eerie, otherworldly sounds we're familiar with in horror and Sci-Fi movies? Take a look at the video below that reveals, The Waterphone.

If you've seen movies such as Poltergeist, Alien, The Matrix, Star Trek and more, you'll instantly recognise distinct sounds made using this instrument.

A waterphone (also known as ocean harp or AquaSonic waterphone) is a type of inharmonic acoustic percussion instrument consisting of a stainless steel resonator bowl or pan with a cylindrical neck and bronze rods of different lengths and diameters around the rim of the bowl. The resonator may contain a small amount of water giving the waterphone a vibrant ethereal sound that has appeared in movie soundtracks, record albums, and live performances. The instrument was invented and developed by Richard Waters.

Several sizes and design variants of the instrument exist. It is generally played in a seated position by a soloist and either bowed or drummed, played as a friction or struck idiophone, with movements to affect the water inside. This combines the resonant characteristics of the bowl and rods in combination with the movement of the water. The sound of the waterphone is often used to evoke mystery and suspense. A superball mallet has become the prime way of drumming the waterphone.

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