Home > Opendidge > Deep notes on the Electric Medusa

Deep notes on the Electric Medusa

This is the first of the questions sent to me by Dudo (Dubravko Lapaine). There are others but each merits its own blog entry so we will do them one at a time.

Dudo: How deep is the deeepest practical EM and how deep could the deepest impractical one go?

Martin: The deepest Electric Medusa that I have made so far arrives at a low A (la) at around 27.5 Hz. It is not too difficult to play the note, certainly much easier than playing the same note on a very long cylindrical tube a little over three metres in length and with a diameter of 35mm or so.
Making the diameter of the mouthpiece a few millimetres larger than the current Electric Meduse mouthpieces (30mm) one can certainly arrive at a low E (about 20 Hz and the lower limit of human hearing) and probably lower without too much difficulty. I will prepare an mp3 or video as soon as I can and post it here and on youtube.

With the combination of a mouthpiece of the appropriate dimensions and then smaller tubes exiting from the mouthpiece one can achieve deep notes without too much difficulty due to the increased backpressure as compared to a cylindrical tube. Although an instrument of this type will not radiate acoustically as does an instrument with a large bell, the electric medusa has amplification built into the mouthpiece and this responds very well to both low and high frequencies obviating the need for the large bell and thus simplifying the construction of the instrument considerably.

I like to think of the electric medusa as an electric guitar, or maybe more appropriately an electric bass. Without amplification the sound produced is of very low volume while attached to the amplifier it is very powerful.

Of course the question of deep notes is also strongly related to playing technique. A really good exercise for loosening up the embouchure is learning to play notes in the really deep register. A reasonable definition of the really deep register is from a low E and down (below 40 Hz say). I will write a separate blog post on deep notes in the near future.

Categories: Opendidge
  1. Diego Mascaro
    November 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Martin, Im Brazilian and really love your opendidge project.
    I have just one question.
    Did i need a preamp for the piezoeletric contact microphone or its just pluged in the guitar amplifier?

    • November 11, 2009 at 12:57 am

      Dear Diego,
      glad you like the project and instruments:)
      How you need to amplify the piezo output depends on it’s characteristics.
      If it is one of the ones specifically designed for a guitar or better for a contrabass, then I have found that it needs some preamplification. If you pass it through a guitar effects pedal (say a delay) and then attach it to a mixer then you will get a good sound.
      If it is one of the cheap piezo’s that you can buy in an electronics store, then I have had good results plugging it directly into the guitar input of an amp.
      I am planning a blog entry, as soon as I get a chance to make a video, on the piezo pickups and how to use them.
      Look forward to hearing some music from you.

  2. May 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Martin,

    This is amazing and intriguing. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing more of this beautifully mad invention of yours. It seems there are so many possible combinations scale-wise and timbre-wise. Formulating questions now to ask later…


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