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Learning to play Kongzhu

Back in 2001 I did a ’round the world’ trip, eventually arriving to Beijing, where my sister was then living. One weekend we were out walking in a park and I heard this strange sound… and I just could not imagine what was creating it!! I first heard it in the distance and we followed the direction of the sound until we came across an old guy using what looked like a double ended spinning top, suspended & spinning on some string between two drum sticks!

Here’s a recording of it, captured on my trusty Tascam DAP-1 DAT machine and a pair of Oktava MK012 mics:

I didn’t know what they were called then, and after much searching a common western name seems to be DIABLO, but that doesn’t apply to the sound making versions… Turns out they are called Kongzhu and the number that is etched on them, seems to relate to the number of sound generating vents aka Helmholtz resonators.

I bought one at the time, and bought a couple more when back home but I have never been good enough at playing it to generate such great sounds as the old geezers in that Beijing Park. So my slow motion plan is to start a daily practice of learning to play them…

When I get good enough I will record a library, as they are such a unique and distinctive sound..
Check the skills of this group:



Capturing 30Hz

Very light wind today so I tried recording the aerial mast in Whitireia Park aka Titahi Bay Transmitter

I could tell on headphones (and the meters) that there was a deep undulating rumble, but it is interesting to see in RX that it is centred around 30Hz….

I’ll revisit when there is a decent wind blowing – Tuesdays forecast is for 12m/s (today was 2-4m/s)
It will be interesting to see what frequency it vibrates at then…

I also captured some lovely impacts, gently hitting the cable with a rubber mallet…
Really strange beating in the decay!

Scary sign! Must get one for my studio…

Aeolian Buzz

I’ve owned a few of these “wind wands” since back when I recorded the SWISH TWO Library and you can see and hear them in the Making Of video for it, but despite my experiences with it I had never thought of trying it in strong wind as a buzzy Aeolian Harp!

This week we had 120kmph wind forecast so I tried it and it sounded wild… So it gkt mne thinking and half an hour later this happened:

Next step is to move the Tank Resonator into a more exposed position!