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What is the Aquaphone?
The Aquaphone also known as Waterphone was invented by Richard Waters in the 1980s. It consists of two soldered stainless steel trays which form a resonator bowl and bronze rods of different lengths and diameters around the rim of the bowl. The Aquaphone we recorded is called: “Model Megabass 250 - 600 ccm“, which has 72 rods and is the biggest of the three available instruments. The Waterphone can be played by striking the rods with a bow or by hitting them with a stick for example. When the resonator is filled with a little bit of distilled water it is possible to modulate the long decaying tone through panning the instrument. The Waterphone creates magical spheric tones that sometimes remind of the call of the whales. “The Waterphone has been featured in the soundtracks to many movies, including Let the Right One In (film) (2008), The Matrix, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, music by Jerry Goldsmith, Dark Water (2002 film), and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, ALIENS, "The Spirit”,...” “Waterphone.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., date last updated (11 February 2013). Web. Date accessed (13 February 2013).
We recorded the Aquaphone at three different recording locations with varying microphone setups in 2.0 Stereo and 5.0 Surround. One part of the recordings took place in the studio where we used the amulet / tranceducer (piezo) microphones from tranceaudio. These microphones have a very wide frequency range and very low self noise and were attached directly to the resonator bowl of the instrument. These recordings feature a fantastic drony bass end. To contrast these Piezo recordings we captured the Aquaphone in a very nice sounding, stone walled stairway where we used a Sennheiser MS and a Wide Omni Stereo Setup. These recordings have a completely different character and the lush and long reverb tail influenced the way we were performing in a great way.
From the beginning on we planned to record this fascinating instrument in surround as well. From our first recording session on we scouted for the perfect space to capture the Waterphone in 5.0 Surround. After a lot of telephone calls we finally got the permission to record in a very cool space: The Gasometer in Herne, Germany! This big cylinder with it´s crazy sounding reverb was absolutely what we had been looking for. We recorded with five Sennheiser MKH 8020 (Omni) microphones to get a thick, diffuse and lush surround sound. Be warned these sounds are highly addictive when played back on your 5.0 listening environment!
We would like to thank Harry Meschke for providing us his magic instrument for our recordings. Harry did also perform most of the sounds we captured in the Gasometer. Harry owns and plays all kinds of exotic instruments. One of his specialities is playing the Hangdrum. Be sure to check out his beautiful music and playing on his website: http://www.hangharry.de
And also thanks to Mr. Doppel who gave us the permission to record in this beautiful space!
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