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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

I need an instrument

Well, I got a lot of exercise last week, but not much of it was walking. My total ending July 1 was 112,781 steps for two weeks. Standing in line all day Friday (total 2,000 steps) and Biking most of Sunday didn't help the count.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
112,781 / 1,000,000

So, now the question I have about Stn. George is one of music. I have been convinced by your comments that music may be essential for a lone walker in order to keep his pace up and keep him sane. So Steven needs a musical instrument. But there is a catch. The instrument needs to meet several requirements:
  • Must be light-weight and easy to carry

  • Must be playable while walking

  • Must not require Steven to blow into it as this could adversely affect his ability to walk under any strenuous conditions and still play

  • Must not require both hands to play as Steven may be carrying a staff or other implement in one hand

  • Must be multi-tonal, so not just a rhythm instrument with a beat (Yikes! Can you imagine walking 500 miles to a drumbeat?)

  • Might be something he would dance to as well

Okay friends. Have at it. Suggest or invent an instrument for Steven to accompany himself on his long walk.


i feel like some version of a guitar would be perfect because, with a strap is very portable and would be easy to play while walking: think wandering minstrels. but that doesn't satisfy the one-handed rule. :(
Yes. If it were a stringed instrument, it would have to be plucked and not fretted or strummed. A form of lyre might work if it could be attached to him in some way that he didn't have to hold it in one hand and play it with the other.
BTW, when I traveled cross-country on my bicycle, I carried a baritone ukelele on my pack. I discovered that you had to be very careful of the strings in the hot sun. They tightened up and broke the anchor pins right off the intstrument!
There's lots of things that could work except for that "not blow into it" requirement.

Taking ALL those requirements into account, all I can think of that satisfies every one is whistling and/or singing.

The lightest weight, most compact instruments are recorders and flutes. But, "play while walking" pretty well rules those out because I guarantee you you'll start feeling faint real fast trying to play something like that while walking. The breath control for the instrument and the oxygen requirements for the walking are just not compatible.

Play while walking suggests (strongly) a lute, harp, or perhaps ukulele. But those aren't especially compact and easy to transport, and then there's the whole question of string maintenance and what do you do when a string breaks?

And of course those are all two-handed.

He's just gotta be a gifted whistler. That's all there is to it. :)
Whistle. Takes breath. Hard to do when under exertion. But you are right, it is difficult to come up with anything else. So, I've been trying to figure out ways to turn his clothing and/or pack into a musical instrument. Rhythms could be set by his walking pace. Then there could be handy chimes or woodblocks that added tonality. Maybe even putting a bellows in his shoes to inflate the bag of a pipe?
> Whistle. Takes breath.

Yes, but you can whistle on both the inhale and exhale. There's a different tonal quality to it, but it does work. I can demonstrate if you need.

I'm starting to wonder, though, why is it so necessary for Stn to have music every step of the way? Why not let the _absence_ of music in particularly difficult stretches of travel underscore the physical difficulty of the trek?
An Ipod? ;)
YES! It is a fantasy/allegory after all. Maybe it should be an iPhone so he could get his bearings via GPS! It could be a whole new concept (and one I am not adverse to trying on for size) to do an allegory where the hero is off to slay a dragon, but is coming out of West by God Virginia in 2008 and heading for New York City. There is a whole new way of looking at the allegory genre that way!
Hmm... you said you didn't want just a rhythm instrument, but something like zills (finger cymbals) might work. It's a rhythm instrument, obviously, but it can produce different tones.

Or you could make up some kind of sensitive wind instrument - a hollow tube, maybe with fine strings in there somewhere? - that plays with the wind, either the natural wind or what a person makes by moving.
Great ideas and very close to what I've been thinking. My first design was for multiple finger cymbals (one or two on each finger) struck by the thumb. Each cymbal would be tuned to a different pitch.

I also thought about the idea of a wind instrument that was bellowed by the hiker's movement. Think something like a bagpipe that is only inflated by the steps the hiker takes rather than by blowing into it.

I'm also considering musical clothing in which he is wearing various tonal things that can be struck or plucked as he walks. Maybe strings in a turtle shell for a lyre hung at his side, or stretched between two moving pieces of his clothing for different pitches. Great ideas. Thanks!
About that one handed comment you know .. he could always tie the staff to his pack in some way. In that particular case. Although I suppose having a free hand in any case would be useful.