The Sea Organ of Zadar – Unique Musical Instruments

There are several recreational activities that one can get involved with. The simple act of watching the sea has always been, and always will be, a popular pastime.   

There is a peace and joy that comes with sitting by the sea.  This alone takes away all your sorrows and worries away. 

Did you know there is a giant organ in Croatia called the Sea Organ of Zadar which harnesses the power of the sea, and creates music with it?  Witness the sound of the Zadar Sea Organ below.

WHAT IS THE ZADAR SEA ORGAN?

The sea organ of Zadar is a one-of-a-kind instrument that is located along the shores of the city of Zadar, in Croatia. 

This is the first pipe organ that is played by the sea, and by the sea we mean BY the sea.  The sea itself plays the organ.

It consists of simple steps with slightly curved white stones.  Underneath the steps, there are 35 tubes that are musically tuned and they have whistles on the sidewalk.

Musical chords are generated by the movement of the sea that pushes the air into the pipes. The type of chords produced will depend on the velocity and size of the waves.

The Zadar sea organ is created in such a way that there is harmony between the environment and the architecture.  Through this, the sea can communicate to nature as the musical sound that it produces can be heard by passers-by.  

SIMILAR INSTRUMENTS TO THE SEA ORGAN

There are other several instruments that are played by nature. These include the water organ, the hydraulophone, and the wave organ. 

The wave organ is a culture that was constructed in 1986 at the shore of San Fransico Bay.  This organ produces music depending on the strength of the tide.

In contrary to other pipe organs, the air column of the wave organ is constantly changing hence resulting in the varying pitch that is produced.

The difference between the sea organ and the wave organ is that the sea organ is very developed and it uses waves to produce a musical sound where else the wave organ uses tides.

Just like the wave organ and the sea organ, the water (waterfall) organ uses water as a power source for pushing the air that is used in producing the musical sound. In other instances instead of using natural power sources, manual pumps are used.  

Although these instruments belong to the same family, the pipe family and their mechanism of producing sound may be similar, the sea organ, by design, boasts an ingenious design that arguably outdoes all of these other instruments.

WHO INVENTED THE SEA ORGAN?

Zadar, the Croatian city dates back to the pre-historic times.  It is an ancient city.

The shorelines of this beautiful city were destroyed at the end of World War 2.

The years that followed were of rebuilding the lost landmarks as plain concrete blocks and the sea was not exempted from this. 

In order to restore back its former glory, an award-winning architect was brought. Nikola Basic was the architect that helped this city to restore its glory. 

Together with Dalmatian stone carvers, Professor Vladimir Andročec, a hydraulic consultant, and Goran Ježina, a pipe specialist, and Nikola Basic, they designed this masterpiece organ in 2005.

His inspiration was from the hydraulic (water organ) that was invented by the ancient Greeks.

It is through this organ that Nikola was offered another project by the city authorities: the greeting of the sun. 

Nikola then set a 22-meter pavement that is powered by the solar system.  The cells that are under the glass begin creating electricity that enables the disc to illuminate at dawn. 

At sunset, the cells are believed to have gathered enough energy that enables it to light the waterfront.

HOW DOES THE SEA ORGAN WORK?

The sea organ is 70 meters long and has 35 pipes that are underneath this concrete steps. The pipes are located in a way that the movement of the sea results in the production of musical chords from these pipes. 

Column air that is pushed by a column of water movement blows each pipe by a  plastic tube that is submerged in water. The apertures that are located in the uppermost stairs of the vertical planes generate the tuned musical sounds from the pipes.

Seven groups of musical tubes are interchangeably tuned to two cognate chords that are of the diatonic major scale. The pipes are of varying lengths and contain whistles that are built in them.  

Each of this organ pipe has its own chord and tubbing. Depending on your position on the steps, you can detect the changes that arise in the harmony and the sound. The random time and wave energy space distribution to each organ results in the played chords.  

In order for the sea organ to be transformed into a musical instrument, it has air holes that enable it to breathe in air. Air and water flow in through the lower steps.

The air and water that flows through the lower steps are then funnelled to the chamber that is located beneath.  The air and the water then leave through the upper stairs. 

The chime-like, beautiful and undiluted notes are then produced as a result of this. One of the most interesting facts about this instrument is that the sound is always different.

This is because the sea is always changing hence the same sound cannot be produced twice. The effect of the sea organ can be described as hypnotic. 

This will entirely depend on the conditions of the weather or any other force such as a ferry passing nearby hence strongly pushing the water into the pipes. 

With this, you will realize that the intensity of the music of the sea organs keeps on fluctuating.

THE SEA ORGAN AS A TOURIST ATTRACTION

The installation of the sea organ is very unique and has made the inhabitants of Zadar feel proud. This is a natural musical instrument that is played by the sea.

After the destruction of the major landmarks in Zadar after the second world war, the people of Zadar did not have much contact with the sea.   

The construction of the sea organ was to restore the relationship that the inhabitants of Zadar had with the sea.  The construction of this organ has made it a major tourist attraction site.

Until you’ve heard it yourself, it is difficult to believe that the sea can play music that will excite your body and soul like this.

It is only when you stroll in the western embankment of Zadar that your ears will catch the strangest and beautiful sound that is floating on air as you are approaching the end of the Penisula.  You will then notice a lot of people either lying or sitting on the lapped stairs that are located along the shoreline.

Every note that is produced by the sea organ is unpredictable yet harmonious. This is as a result of the arrangement of the well-tuned organ tubes. Just a single move through the sea organ and there is a drastic change in harmony. It is like several musicians are producing the harmonies from beneath your feet.

For a number of people that love adventure and new experiences, the sea organ in Zadar is there number one list in their adventure list. This is probably a must go place for every tourist.

Some would argue that the sound that this organ produces is annoying and creepy.  But it’s your experience with this organ that will make you understand your connection with the surrounding environment.

The combination of both the organ and the sea waves are so soothing to your heart and mind.

Lying on the grass that is in the park that is behind the sea organ or sitting or lying on the steps either dozing or meditating is one of a kind experience that you would regret missing it!

The Pyrophone – Weird and Unusual Musical Instruments Series

 At some point in your life, you have probably heard or listened to notes that sounded like an explosion or something close to rapid combustion or rapid heating, made by some synthesizer perhaps.

As we all know, a musician that performs with talent or fervour have always been described with words such as burning it up or they are on fire! These words are not meant to be taken literally…in most cases.

The human mind has always been fascinated with fire since humans started messing around with it, 100 000 + years ago.

Sometimes music is accompanied by instruments that are on fire! Music and fire are inseparable.  

Many types of instruments are considered to be on fire but they can never beat the pyrophone. 

The name of this most weird and unusual musical instrument can tell you that the music that you will hear that accompanies the pyrophone will be on fire.  Fire?  Yes, actual fire!

If you’ve never seen a pyrophone in action, here is what it looks and sounds like.

Why the name “pyrophone”?

The name pyrophone means fire-sound. Am sure you are wondering how the fire sound comes about.  The fire sound is made by applying combustion to the pyrophone pipes. 

Differences may have risen over the years between the earliest pyrophone and the modern pyrophone.  The early pyrophone worked similarly to the steam calliopes that were powered by an internal combustion generator.

The modern pyrophone is a bit advanced, and it uses the explosion technology.

Who invented the pyrophone?

Frederic Kastner is believed to have invented the pyrophone in 1873.

What drove Frederic into developing the pyrophone?  The pyrophone was just like any traditional musical instrument were pipes were encased with flames as a way of producing musical notes. 

Having understood the mechanism by which hydrogen produces a sound, he began his invention on the fire organ, Frederic had gained this knowledge of the hydrogen sound by the discovery of Dr. B. Higgins.

This discovery had taken place in 1777 where Dr. Higgins discovered that a note could be produced if a hydrogen flame was placed at the lower end of a tube or a glass.  

The sound produced is as a result of the reaction between the hydrogen and the atmospheric oxygen.

In addition to this, Frederic was also had the skills and knowledge about music. It is assumed that he had gained this knowledge of music from his father Georges Kastner who was a composer.

The combination of the musical knowledge and Dr. Higgins’ discovery had a significant impact on the invention of the pyrophone.

The invention and acceptance of an instrument into the market is not as easy as you may think, or maybe you assumed something like this would not be easy, and then you’d be right.

You do not wake up one day and decide to invent an instrument and the next thing you are recognized for your invention. The invention of anything is a process.

Sadly, the invention of Frederic Kastner was not a great success.

Since Frederic was not a recognized physicist, the connections that Kastner’s family had made a significant impact in bringing acknowledgement to the pyrophone.

Frederic’s mother was a wealthy and influential person in society. With the thoughts of keeping Frederic away from any kind of mischief, she had encouraged him to continue developing the pyrophone as a way of keeping him busy.

Here below is another pyrophone in action.

Henry Dunant, a founder of the Red Cross and also an acquaintance of Kastner’s mother, took a commission from Kastner’s mother to take with him the pyrophone abroad.

Being a social activist, Henry had the eloquence, the social connections and the persuasive skills that would enable him to promote the pyrophone.

In February 1875, Henry secured a chance at the Royal Society of Arts that enabled him to present the pyrophone. The melancholy, the vibration of the eco and the mysterious and passionate sound that the pyrophone produces is remarkable and cannot be ignored!

To our utter disappointment, even with the extra marketing that Henry had done, the pyrophone was not a success. Henry noticed that the pyrophone had started malfunctioning and ended up donating it to the South Kensington Museum.

In 1882, Frederic died, and Henry had already moved on with various projects that had come his way.

With no one to focus on the pyrophone development, the pyrophone fame began disappearing slowly.  A number of attempts have been made to reincarnate the pyrophone, but the insanity and elegance that came with the pyrophone cannot stay matched.

What kind of music was written with the pyrophone?

After the pyrophone organ was invented, some musicians had visited Frederic just to have an experience with this incredible instrument.

Hector Berlioz, a French renown composer, also visited Frederic.

Although the welcoming of the pyrophone was not a great one, musicians and composers, who understood what a useful musical instrument meant sought after the pyrophone.

Among the many other composers who visited Frederic, Charles Gounod had made a consideration of using the pyrophone in Jeanne d’Arc production. 

The only composer who wrote music that was specifically for the pyrophone is Theodore Lack. This included Saving the Queen and Arrangement of God.

Construction of the pyrophone

Taking into consideration that the pyrophone sound is dependent on the flame, the construction process must be taken seriously. 

The general appearance of the pyrophone is a keyboard that is connected to a metal pipe or glass, and it is hooked to a console.

Depending on the sound that you want the pyrophone to produce, the pyrophone can be heated directly using a flame or the flame is controlled through a mechanism that is computerised.  The sound produced range from clear to steady to discordant. 

What are the sources of fuel for the pyrophone?

Propane is the primary source of fuel for the pyrophone.  Gasoline can also be used as a source of fuel for the pyrophone. This can be achieved through the building of mobile units that are powered by gasoline.

Often the hydrogen pyrophones are constructed using test tubes that are upside down. This tubes act as the combustion chambers. 

During Frederic time, the proper colours were not attained but with the addition of salt, this can be achieved in the modern days.

Pyrophone Juggernaut

I don’t think you would want to miss listening to one of the largest pyrophones. The contraption alone leaves you mesmerized. This is the world’s most massive hand operated octave fire organ.

Visit: https://pyrophonejuggernaut.com/ for more info and tour dates! (yes tour dates)

This flame fueled organ is constructed using copper, aluminium and steel. This pyrophone was built after 250 years of experimental experience. It is an instrument that breathes fire!

You might have taught that the human imagination had reached its peak, you are wrong. The human mind has no limits when it comes to creativity, and this is particularly true when it comes to strange instruments, and things that spew flames. 

Humans always have, and always will get a kick out of flames that spew forth.  And so do ducks, apparently.

With whatever that is around you, given you have the ability to think, you can create various unique things.

Though Frederic pyrophone did not gain much fame, the recent Pyrophone Juggernaut has struck the mind of many.

The pyrophone will always remain to be that one original instrument that breathes fire to music, and that’s something you can never take away from it!