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Musical Instruments
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Musical Instruments on 07/20/2007 00:21:45 MDT Print View

Back in the days before enlightenment, indeed, before culling of adulthood, I once carried a full-blown classical guitar up into the mountains west of Tokyo. Needless to say it is not something I plan on doing again, especially since at that time my playing and voice were bad enough that not even the stars came out and the mountains refused to echo.

I've been long thinking of getting and learning to play a new instrument to bring with me on UL walks. I play the guitar and the violin, but neither lends itself well to lightweight walking, even the mini guitars like the Baby Taylor and martin Backpacker. I've thought of the ukulele, but it still is too bulky and probably would often get in the way, though I like the idea of an instrument you can play as accompaniment to singing.

Three instruments I am thinking of now, a harmonica, a quena, or an Armenian duduk. I don't know how to play any of them, though I suspect that the harmonica is the easiest while the duduk is by far the hardest. I like the sound of all of them, especially the duduk.

What kinds of instruments do other UL walkers bring along? Any preferences? What do others do about music on the trail?

Miguel Marcos
(miguelmarcos) - F

Locale: Middle Iberia
Other possibilities on 07/20/2007 04:32:11 MDT Print View

Mouth harp, small dumbeks or lot's of other percussion options, singing, fiddles, piccolos or flutes, recorders, melodicas...

One thing, though: When I see this topic I think to myself: I'd rather not hear any music at all in the midst of the wild. I like that people take mp3s with headphones to keep it to themselves.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Musical Instruments on 07/20/2007 04:53:08 MDT Print View

Occasionally I carry my drumsticks. Birds tend to sing in a rhythm and it's fun to play along. Even crickets and small insects can provide the backup sound.

Someone from another BP forum offered this:

They have some sound samples. Check it out

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Musical Instruments on 07/20/2007 05:53:55 MDT Print View

It's sad to think that human beings have so overwhelmed the planet that it becomes a sacrilege to add human voices and music to the sounds of the natural world. I mean, we are natural creatures, too, and our voices are part of the natural world.

One of the most wonderful and beautiful moments I ever had while hiking was last year when I neared a mountain hut in the Japan Alps after a very hard and exhausting climb. As I neared the end of the climb suddenly the whole valley was filled with the sound of an alp horn. I can't explain it; normally I'd be scandalized by such blatant kitsch, but some how the sound, the coming presence of human company, and the stillness of the ravine called up such an sense of peacefulness and joy that it brought tears to my eyes.

Humans can add to the beauty of a place, too, rather than be its nemesis all the time.

Not that my music would be a plus to anyone or anything!

Edited by butuki on 07/20/2007 06:12:40 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
. on 07/20/2007 05:53:55 MDT Print View


Edited by butuki on 07/20/2007 06:12:07 MDT.

Robert Devereux
(robdev) - F

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Duduk on 07/20/2007 08:08:32 MDT Print View

I haven't taken instruments on trips, but I've considered it. I have a duduk, although I haven't used it in a long time. I found it difficult to play. It required good lungs and a lot of practice, and I don't have very good lung capacity. A harmonica would probably be easier, but I like the sound of the duduk more.

The xaphoon looks interesting. I've been told that starting with a single reed is easier than a double reed. I might try one of them.

I wouldn't mind hearing real instruments on the trail, as long as I'm not listening to somebody blasting an iPod. Hearing loud pop in the middle of the woods is quite annoying.

Jessen Jacobsen
(SmokiesHanger) - F

Locale: Boulder
Re: Musical Instruments on 07/20/2007 10:17:07 MDT Print View

How heavy is too heavy? On longer trips, and trips where I am alone, I bring my Martin Ukulele. It weighs about 11 oz and fits very well into the front pocket of my ULA Circuit. My base weight is under 10lbs, so I don't really care if I just throw it into my pack before I leave. I love being able to take it out at breaks and at camp. I find that it passes the time very well, and it is very relaxing. I'm a guitar player as well, and the ukulele is a cinch to learn. When I get around to doing a thruhike, I'm definitely bringing it along.

Miguel Marcos
(miguelmarcos) - F

Locale: Middle Iberia
Sacrilege (not) on 07/20/2007 15:46:42 MDT Print View

Miguel, I've played the upright bass for almost 20 years and now play jazz guitar. I'm not going to become unhappy on a trek if I hear a hiker playing a (fill in the blank). If I'm lucky enough to find that the player is good, all the better.

I consider the sound *and* silence of nature to be music as well. It's something that can be shared by all, independent of one's background or means. I have little need nor desire for music in these circumstances.

You said it: "Humans can add to the beauty of a place, too, rather than be its nemesis all the time."

The "can". Doesn't mean they always "will".

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Sacrilege (not) on 07/20/2007 17:54:42 MDT Print View

I'm a banjo player... if I ever hike the Appalacian Trail (and I will)... I'm going to be taking my Nechville Banjovie with me :) Weighs about a pound.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Sacrilege (not) on 07/20/2007 18:28:53 MDT Print View

Miguel, I'm with you 100% on everything you said. After all there have been times when it would drive me crazy to have to walk behind some guy listening to a baseball game on his radio or, while enjoying the sublime solitude and silence in a forest, suddenly to have it all shattered by just barely audible distant voices. Or, one interminable afternoon when this elderly woman played hiking tag, always catching up to me at my rest stops and practicing traditional Japanese folk songs in a high, nasal, screeching voice all the way.

Though it's antithetical to expect it here in Japan, I go for walks to be alone and to enjoy silence and to listen to the sounds of nature that I so rarely hear back in the city. One thing I've found since moving out here to the countryside outside Tokyo is that I've relaxed again and enjoyed waking up in the morning to the sounds of all kinds of birds, to frogs singing at night, to the sound of the wind coming off the ocean not far away.

So, yes, Miguel, I see where you are coming from.

But there are also times when I am out there and it inspires me to want to join in and complement it with my own music. On longer walks there are so many times when I suddenly break into song, I am so happy or sad, or the pain is bad enough that a song will soothe it. After all, isn't that where music comes from?

Edited by butuki on 07/20/2007 18:29:38 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
carbon fiber lithium hoot pan on 07/27/2007 20:37:45 MDT Print View

Instead of firing up the old search engine to find a carbon fiber lithium hoot pan I caught a Brazilian jazz quintet the other night.
They had two percussionists, a traditional drum set and a "fill" percussionist.
This guy played an amazing number of different things, he'ld pop, thump, and gett eek-eek sounds out of everything from hubcaps to authentic Brazilian deallywhippers ... but at one point he just picked up to pretty flat stones and clacked them together.
So maybe instead of taking something from home we should bend over a try something that is already out there.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Music to my ears on 07/28/2007 23:06:41 MDT Print View

I play the elk bugle, but only in September. I like the Power Bugle mouthpiece by E.L.K., Inc. with a Terminator tube by Primos.

Seriously though, I think you'll find the harmonica easy to learn and fun to play. Like all instruments, get a fairly decent one.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Music on the trail on 07/30/2007 22:05:40 MDT Print View

The harmonica has been the traveler's choice since it's invention. I like a small finger piano (mbira) too. My all time favorite is a Native American flute. I found one made in plastic by Hal Kacanek that has a wonderful tone and is easy to play--- and it's only $20.

The flute fits so wonderfully with a breeze and the flutter of leaves, the swaying of evergreens overhead, and the babble of a stream nearby.....

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
The Ultralight Bard... on 05/18/2013 22:43:21 MDT Print View

I selected the following instruments:

I like the double tenor. It plays wonderfully.

A stringed instrument that can do ukelele and guitar chords. Two for the price of one...

I'm still considering if I want anything else. I have the one and am ordering the other.

Rafi Harzahav
(rhz10) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
ultralight 0.6oz harmonica on 05/20/2013 16:55:11 MDT Print View (apparently not a toy)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Musical Instruments on 05/20/2013 17:12:14 MDT Print View

When I was in grade school in the 50's there was a little plastic flute-like or recorder-like instrument. They were pretty cheap and smallish. Just holes in the plastic pipe, but they worked. Maybe you can find one.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Musical Instruments on 05/20/2013 18:32:17 MDT Print View

That recorder like instrument was a flutophone!

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
mando on 05/20/2013 19:50:39 MDT Print View

I've never brought it on a backpacking (def camping) but if i were to bring anything it would be a mandolin

John S.
(jshann) - F
Musical fruit on 05/20/2013 20:38:52 MDT Print View

Eating some musical fruit weighs nothing dudes! And you can entertain all night!

Jeffrey McConnell
Ukulele on 05/20/2013 21:11:45 MDT Print View

I've been throwing around the idea of learning the ukulele and I think it would be fun to take on trips. Now, my singing voice is another matter! I may stick to just playing the instrument when I'm around others.