Musician Marc Chouarain is a composer for film soundtracks, and he recently gave a short demonstration on an unusual instrument he often uses when he’s composing.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the cristal baschet.
The cristal baschet was made in 1952 by two French instrument makers and artists, brothers Bernard and François Baschet.
Metal rods embedded in a heavy plate make the elements and each metal rod has an accompanying glass rod. The length, weight and position of the metal rods at the equilibrium point creates the pitch. Sound is made by stroking the glass rod with your wet fingertips. It’s related to the glass harmonica, another instrument that uses friction on different sizes of glass to make tones.
The result is dramatic and atmospheric.
The brothers invented the cristal baschet as a combination sculpture and musical instrument contribution to the contemporary avant-garde art and music movement of the time. Their objective was to make sound art accessible to more people.
A small but dedicated group of artists and composers work together to keep the brothers’ works alive. The Conservatory of Albi and he Conservatoire de Brive la Gaillarde offer classes and workshops on cristal baschet.
The instrument has featured in works in dance performances, film soundtracks and in both jazz and rock music.