Sounds - Rattle Tyne: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Nov 10, 2010
Scientist: Bart Hopkin

Sounds - Rattle Tyne

Sounds - Rattle Tyne
Creating new music on an instrument that's never been heard before...


JM: Imagine creating an entirely new kind of music, played on an instrument that’s never been heard before. That’s what experimental musician Bart Hopkin has been doing for over 30 years at his musical laboratory in Point Reyes, CA. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

JM: Bart is one of the scientists and engineers in this year’s Kid Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition. He’s made hundreds of instruments. This one is called the rattle tyne.


JM: It’s set up like a piano with a series of metal prongs attached to a hollow wooden box. You pluck the prongs with your thumbs and they jingle and rattle in unexpected ways.


BH: When you make an instrument that’s never been made before, there’s nobody who knows how to play it. There’s no music that has been written for it, and one of the most important things, there’s no sort of cultural place for it. People don’t even know what kind of sounds it can make. Its potentials aren’t even known You lose all that, but what you gain is possibly a sound that no one’s heard before. And that sounds simple, but there’s a lot to that because if you’re sitting down with an instrument, which doesn’t have a way of thinking about it already in place, the chances that you will arrive musically someplace that you never went to before are very good.

JM: If you know a 3rd to 6th grader who’d like to design their own musical instrument, have them check out for details. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the NSF. I’m Jim Metzner.