Is it the call of the ocean? The primordial urge to return to our pre-human evolutionary roots, the womb? Hand dryness caused by too many hours at the computer? Whatever the reason, interactive musicians keep designing wild instruments involving water.

The latest comes from Australian hacker / designer / instrument builder Sebastian Tomczak. He’s turned a bowl of water into a controller by firing laser beams through it, courtesy cheap laser pointers. Interrupt the water, and the beam’s diffraction through the water changes. A solar panel acts essentially as a large photocell (makes sense; you get more surface area than you would from a simple photoresistor).

Music thing gets the scoop on Sebastian’s creation and notes the whole thing amounts to an $8 audio controller.

First up, demonstrations of various synthesis techniques using the water bowl controller, including mapping modulation (amplitude and frequency mod):

And, still in prototype form, five lasers for additional control:

Worldwide Water Instrument Round-Up

Now, using water as an instrumental interface is becoming a trend in CDM stories. Via our handy-dandy water tag, here’s a look back at some of the watery instruments we’ve seen:

Pianoquarium, part fish tank, part upright piano. (I think the fish dig the Beethoven bust.)

Mcean: Water as Musical Instrument, which turns out to be more fun when you hook it up to an organ.

Jaws Soundtrack: Remixed, Underwater, for when you want to deliver your music in underwater surround.

Interactive Music Tracks Fish Movement, which actually included a fish-to-computer interface so the fish could control music and motion.

The fictional BBC “Look Around You” character Synthesizer Patel invented an instrument called the Liquinth, using water as an interface. Not real, but … it could be.

Hydraulophone: Water Jet/Fountain/Underwater MIDI Keyboard Instruments: Part sculpture, part playground, part instrument, now with MIDI control of your water jets.

Know of other watery instruments? Don’t hesitate to tell us about them.

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