University of Michigan-Flint

University of Michigan-Flint News

UM-Flint Music Professor Invents New Instrument

  • April 1st, 2009 By: UM-Flint News

The Skinny

You’ve probably heard of a Sousaphone and a Saxophone, well now you can add the “DiBlassiophone” to the list of musical instruments. University of Michigan-Flint Assistant Professor of Music Brian DiBlassio recently demonstrated the new instrument to local TV reporter Randy Conat.

You’ve probably heard of a Sousaphone and a Saxophone, well now you can add the “DiBlassiophone” to the list of musical instruments. University of Michigan-Flint Assistant Professor of Music Brian DiBlassio recently demonstrated the new instrument to local TV reporter Randy Conat. DiBlassio, with the help of some of his students built the instrument at his Ann Arbor home out of PVC pipe.
“If you strike a 10 foot piece of PVC pipe it produces an “A” note. Adding or subtracting lengths can create the other pitches,” said DiBlassio. “The instrument produces a very heavy bass, but warm sound.”

To play the instrument, two ping-pong paddles with glued-on foam rubber from a kneeling pad, covered by a computer mouse pad are used. Music major Jessica McCormack, who helped build the instrument, said that while she had to learn the technique of playing it from scratch, any percussionist can pick it up. Music major Bruce Horn said helping to build it was a great way to learn about the physics of music. DiBlassio said that while there are similar instruments, his is an original design. He built it because he felt there was a need to expand the range and instrumentation needed for his percussionists in a particular piece. Total cost was about $300.The “DiBlassiophone” will make its first public appearance at the Jazz Ensemble concert on November 28, 7:30p.m. in the UM-Flint Theatre.

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