While music lovers probably have some kind of affinity towards a certain instrument, whether that would be the guitar, piano, drums or something a tiny bit more extravagant like, for example, a cello, this instrument we‘ll be presenting to you today, rarely gets any attention. To be more precise, most people haven‘t even heard of it. However, you have most likely heard the sound it creates in the soundtrack of some crowd-pleasing science fiction movie like “Interstellar”. This rare instrument called the cristal baschet is a one-of-a-kind percussive organ that transports listeners to the endlessness of outer space with its otherworldly sound.
This odd-looking instrument is called a cristal baschet and was invented back in 1952
This unique instrument was invented by two French brothers back in 1952 and the sound it outputs is enchantingly artful. While it certainly looks kinda odd, you can’t listen to it without some kind of admiration. It’s made of glass rods, fiberglass cones, and a large steel plate, as well as some wooden construction parts.
It was invented by brothers Bernard and François Baschet and was named after its inventors
The unique instrument is constructed from glass rods, fiberglass cones, and a large steel plate
Image credits: Lumu Light Meter
Players use water to wet their fingers before touching the glass rods for turning the finger rubs and drags into enchanting echoes that sound as if they’re from another world. The cristal baschet can range up to six octaves and have 56 chromatically tuned glass rods.
Players wet their fingers before playing the instrument so they can create vibrations
The vibrations are then amplified by the cones and the plate, creating the uniquely atmospheric sound
Listen to cristal baschet’s magical sound right here
Musician Thomas Bloch explains that, “The vibration of the glass is passed on to the heavy block of metal by a metal stem whose variable length determines the frequency. Amplification is obtained by fiberglass cones fixed on wood and by a tall cut-out metal part, in the shape of a flame. ‘Whiskers’ (mustaches), placed under the instrument, to the right, increase the sound power of high-pitched sounds in vibrating by sympathy.”
And here you can listen to film composer Marc Chouarain explains how a cristal baschet works
Models of the crystal organs can range from 3.5 to as much as 6 octaves
This unique instrument is loved by soundtrack composers and can be often heard in movies as well known as “Interstellar”. Gorillaz, Radiohead, Tom Waits are known to have used this instrument in their musical compositions as well.