How can I create a musical instrument out of junk?

It's a project for physics, and it sounds impossible. I also have to play it in front of the class and have a written component with an explanation on what resonance is occurring. No electric instruments. Objectives: 1. Construct a musical instrument out of junk and common materials such as plastic pipe, wood, glass, metal scrap, etc. 2. Demonstrate and explain physics concepts inherent in your instrument. Rules: 1. The instrument must be able to play an octave in tune to receive a B grade. The A grade is reserved for truly amazing instruments in terms of thought and construction, so my challenge to you is to WOW me. 2. The instrument must be able to play a song. Songs such as “Mary had a Little Lamb” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” are not adequate since they do not include all the notes in an octave. 3. No Kazoos, Jew’s Harps, Pop bottles filled with water, musical saws, washtub basses etc. When in doubt – ask. 4. This is a high school level assignment, so I am expecting high school level (or above) projects at an appropriate level of difficulty. 5. Grading will be based on • # of notes played • ability to make your instrument resonate • appropriate difficulty of the instrument construction • your song of choice in an auditory presentation to the class and an explanation of the physics behind your instrument • creativity of course. Stringed instruments must have more than one string.

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I have an idea, try making something with a slide(like the trombone), It is realatively easy once you know how to play(although I play it), try using a brass pipe that leads to some PVC(for the actual slide, grease it well), and add a funnel at the end, you could also try a pan flute, but a slide instrument is generally easier(and could be relatively simple to make), if you alter your airflow you can alter the pitch, buy a digital instrument tuner, then just check to see whether or not you can get a whole octave.
I also just though about making tuned PVC drums(like the blue man group), have each one make a different pitch, buy large pipe and cut it into varied lengths(buy maybe 20-30 feet), you need at least 8 pieces to make an octave, you can have up to 13 per octave, for all the flats). Sorry for self reply, had to add this
Although this is probably too late for your project, investigate PDQ Bach (the factious relative of the JS Bach family created by Prof. Peter Shickle). There a a number of instruments created from junk etc. The Hardart, the windbreaker (and slide windbreaker), double reed slide music stand, left handed sewer flute, and bicycle are just a few. 
Determine what method of playing you are aiming for...wind (typical of brass instruments), reed, percussion, stringed etc, then go from there.
You could make something out of PVC pipes. Either make it a woodwind instrument (theres a reed and the sound is made by making the reed vibrate) or like a brass instrument (you buzz your lips to make the vibrations). I play the trumpet so i would make a brass type instrument. The only problem is that unless you found a way to make the pitch change, it would sound like a didgeridoo, and didgeridoos can only play one pitch.
 wrong i normally play bassoon but can french horn and can get over  an octave with no valve use at all. my band director can get over ten octaves of pitch change with no valve use at all. this is how the bugel works.
Not PVC slide diges. I'm planning a slide sax next
mistic8 years ago
I have made a 18 string instrument years ago and have now added it to my instructable listing. I used as a starter an old frizbee disk as a vibrating resonator. This instrument can be made from any round object around the house- I used an old popcorn tin - It sounds like a banjo. If interested see my Inst-able How to make a harp from an throwing disc. Have fun...
necropolian8 years ago
just use your imagination...i heard of an ancient instrument that tortured cats to produce different tones of screams....
lol. isn't that on that new coke advert
i don't know, the adverts vary depending on the region...
hmm. i have an unused exercise bench that is screaming to be turned into a giant xylophone/marimba type instrument. It would be cool to have vertical pipes under each strip so that the notes resonate. However realistically it would probably end up looking more like this - i'll have to add it to the list.
caitlinsdad8 years ago
You can search here on Altoids guitar or cigar box guitar/banjoes. If you can't play a stringed instrument, it may be difficult to figure out the tuning. Try something along a xylophone or thumb piano made from metal strips. There's always the jamaican steel drum. Set of chimes, Bellows or accordion type stuff. Flutes of various pipes. Slide trombone from pipes. And of course a bagpipe. Lots of stuff out there to make. Good luck.
wow. essay...