CROWN (non-water Waterphone) review/demo

Apr 25, 2017
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One of the more unusual instruments is the Waterphone, known for its creepy and chilling sound as a violin bow strokes the metal rods. If you’re unfamiliar with the Waterphone (which resonates due to a water tank in contact with vibrating metal rods), do search for it on YouTube. This is one of those ‘odd’ instruments that remained in the back of my mind for a few years, and when I came across Azzam Bell’s CROWN, I knew this was the right opportunity. The CROWN was inspired by the traditional Waterphone, but it has no water tank. Rather, it has three built-in microphones and an output, so that you can go straight to a mixer, a computer interface, etc., but more importantly, into effects!

This is where the CROWN shines, as you can produce countless sound effects and tones based on how you manipulate the rods (bow, percussion, friction), as well as contact with the metal base plate; however, think of how many guitar or other studio effects there are, and how those can be applied. The included demo is rather straight forward, in that I plugged into my Fractal Audio FM3 and used a few premade patches, including ‘Mr. Gilmour’ and ‘Ambient Guitar.’ I soon discovered that the CROWN can produce some pretty intense and dynamic sounds when matched with driven amps and cabs, never mind filters, step flangers, octave pedals, space reverbs, etc. Although this instrument may seem appropriate for incidental sounds and effects, it is very musical and can be integrated accordingly, which I attempted to do with the demo… putting it in context of a composition and with a very modern industrialized sound.

The quality of the CROWN is excellent, with a beech body/base, a brass plate and bronze rods, all of which are very resonant. Hand-made in Italy, you can find out more about Azzam Bell’s offerings through YouTube, their shop on Etsy, as well as Facebook. And if you think a Waterphone type instrument is unique, check out their Stone Harp and Cinematic Noise Generator (aka Micro Pipes). ETSY SHOP:

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