19 May 2006

Balloon Sounds & Balloonwear

Nobody has ever made us a SoundRoots-shaped balloon, but we're still fans of the... well, what is it, a toy? Wikipedia calls it "an inflatable bag" and of their 26 listed uses for balloons, they don't list a key one: musical instrument.

Yes, the time has come for the balloon bass. A balloon-crazy gentleman named Addi Somekh has transmogrified the humble inflatable bag into an honest-to-gosh musical instrument. Actually, he uses three balloons for this.

The balloon bass is a musical instrument comprised of one round balloon and two skinny (twisting) balloons. It's made by using one non-inflated skinny balloon as a strong and the other skinny balloon to create a resonator that connects the string to the round balloon. The player plucks the string, producing a sound in the resonator that is then amplified in and by the round balloon. The balloon bass is a three-and-one-half octave instrument, costs about $.15 to make, and lasts for about a week -- or until you play it so much that it pops.

[mp3] Addi Somekh on the balloon bass: "Juicy Brunette"
more songs at balloonbass.com

And as if that's not enough balloon fun, Addi Somekh also has a multicultural balloon project underway. Starting in 1996, he and partner Charlie Eckert started touring the planet, bearing balloons that they used to make hats for the often-bewildered natives of other lands.

You will find photos of and quotes from their balloon-bearing global friends at balloonhat.com, -- you'll even find out about the Balloon Hat Modeling School for Young Women. You can even sign up for the Balloon Hat Photo of the Week.

Maybe as long as the Senate is holding confirmation hearings, we could get Addi confirmed as the official US balloon ambassador at large. Top a few White House staffers and Iranian clerics with suitable balloon hats, and we could chuckle our way to a whole new relationship with Iran.

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