Fictophones – a curiously unstable class of musical instruments?



Does this video, showing sound sculptor Henry Dagg performing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ on a Faux-Katzenklavier of his own construction, qualify as a fictophonic collapse scenario?

First, some background. Musicologists often like to categorise instruments into classes or groups. For example – idiophones (vibrating bodies), membranophones (vibrating membranes), chordophones (vibrating strings), aerophones (vibrating air columns), and electrophones (electronic instruments). Recently a further category fictophones (imaginary musical instruments) has been proposed by Professor Deirdre Loughridge (University of California, Berkeley) and colleague Dr. Thomas Patteson (Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia). Their website ‘The Museum of Imaginary Instruments’ provides a list of such things, including, for example, the Katzenklavier (a cat organ or cat piano).

So, returning to the question posed above, here is a BONUS TASK (optional)

The musical instrument category of ‘fictophones’ (imaginary musical instruments) is an inherently unstable one – in that if anyone were to construct such an instrument, it would cease to be a member of its own class.

Further reading: The Cat Keyboard was first described (it’s said) by Athanasius Kircher in the corollary of chapter 1 (Musica Organica), of his work Musurgia universalis (1650) – a copy of which may be found here, in its original Latin. [caution: a somewhat ‘sticky’ 10MB pdf download]


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