I'm working on a robot, which will play on chimes. I'm making the chimes out of 10 mm chrome plated copper tube. Seems to sound nice. It won't be an instrument for playing melodies, just making this orchestral chimes sound effect in different ways. But chimes can be tuned in many ways. Before I start to cut my rods, I have to decide the tuning. I made five examples (with MuseScore) playing different scales and tunings. I might pick one of these. Each sample ends in same note, a Bb, but they might start on different tones, due to the scale and tuning used.
The final instrument will of course sound very different from this, but I have to somehow get a feeling of how it might sound. What do you think? Which of the five tunings gives the nicest sound?
- Bluesy scale
- Whole tone scale
- Pentatonic scale
- 78 cent steps
A chromatic scale has the tones 100 cent apart from each other. The last sample has tones 78 cent from each other, meaning it's "quite out of tune", no tone except for the last one can be found on a piano. Sounds like it would have nothing to do with Western music, but it's not uncommon at all that percussive instruments have tone frequencies not belonging to the "standard set of tones".
The five samples try to produce the glissando sound when you drag your finger through the rods. My robot will of course perform various patterns, not only a single glissando.
The last sample has tones 78 cent from each other, meaning it's "quite out of tune", no tone except for the last one can be found on a piano. Sounds like it would have nothing to do with Western music ...
It does! We call that "jazz".
Well, I chose the chromatic scale. I have 30 metal bars tuned from Ab6 to Bb7, that's two bars per tone. And the sound is heavenly. All the other tunings sounded too dedicated to something. The chromatic is neutral. And the strange 78 cent scale began to sound like noise. Here's testing the very untuned machine:
Well, the metal bars are tuned, but the arm playing them is too clumsy in the video.