The waterphone: This is the instrument used to create creepy scores in horror movies

It can also be used to call whales

Christopher Hooton
Monday 12 October 2015 12:32
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Need a slicing, atonal, metallic sound to go with your shot of someone creeping through an abandoned house? The waterphone is your go-to instrument.

It’s been used to chilling effect in Poltergeist, Let the Right One In, Dark Water, ALIENS and many more horrors and thrillers, and can produce a range of different unhinged sounds.

Consisting of a stainless steel resonator pan (sometimes filled with water, hence the name) with a cylindrical neck and bronze rods of different lengths and diameters, the waterphone can be bowed, struck with beaters or tapped with a hand.

As seen in the demo video above at 1:40, it produces a particularly weird noise when a beater is wiped across the bottom of the pan.

Its sound is reminiscent of that of a whale, and in fact the waterphone has actually been used to successfully call orcas off the coast of western Canada:

Such a precise, carefully crafted drum does not come cheap however, with the percussion instrument usually costing between £300 and £1000.

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