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Flexatone

From Academic Kids

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Flexatone

The flexatone is a modern percussion instrument (an indirectly struck idiophone) consisting of a small flexible metal sheet suspended in a wire frame ending in a handle.

History, Construction and technique

An invention for a flexatone occurs in the British Patent Records of 1922 and 1923. In 1924 the 'Flex-a-tone' was patented in the USA by the Playatone Company of New York.

A wooden knob mounted on a strip of spring steel lies on each side of the metal sheet. The player holds the flexatone in one hand with the palm around the wire frame and the thumb on the free end of the spring steel. The player then shakes the instrument with a trembling movement which causes the beaters to strike the sides of the metal sheet. While shaking the handle, the musician makes a high or low-pitched sound due to the curve given to the blade by the pressure from his thumb. A tremolo is thus produced.

An alternative technique involves removing the two wooden knobs and their mounting springs, and then with a small metal rod (eg triangle beater) held in the free hand strikes the strip of spring steel. The pitch is altered in the same manner as the previous technique. This method of playing results in a different, more constrained sound.

Uses

The flexatone is sometimes heard in funk music, and occasionally in pop music for special effect.

The instrument is rarely used in classical music; Arnold Schoenberg employed it in his Variations for Orchestra and his unfinished opera Moses und Aron, and Aram Khachaturian's wrote for it in his Piano Concerto (though here the flexatone is now often omitted). The cellist in Sofia Gubaidulina's The Canticle of the Sun plays a flexatone in the middle of the piece. Template:Listen Template:Listen Template:Listen

Alternative uses of the name

There are at least three music groups or organizations that have taken the name flexatone. There is the indy rock band flexatone (http://www.indyrock.es/flexatone.htm), the super human science project dr.Flexatone (http://www.flexatone.nl), and the music, software, and research of composer Christopher Ariza at flexatone hfp (http://www.flexatone.net).ja:フレクサトーン

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