70-note "Bottle Organ"

Here's one for you...

I'm looking to create a 70 note bottle organ, inspired by this video:


Except I'm wanting to build mine in a more "automatic" state - played via MIDI notes, an arduino and lots and lots of solenoids making spoons hit the bottles.. That side of it I've got covered thanks to other excellent instructables which have taught me a lot about micro electronics.

What I am currently trying to work out is if there is a way to change the pitch of bottles in any way except simply adding water. Would another liquid achieve the same results with less "spill risk"? Does it even need to be a liquid? I'm guessing it needs to be a liquid as I believe the physics of the noise made when a bottle is struck is based on the water absorbing vibrations, making them slower and lowering the pitch.

If anyone has experience tuning multiple bottles to be struck as an instrument then please do reply! Alternatively if anyone has any novel suggestions for things which would be easier to persuade 70 notes out of then please also reply!

End goal - be able to play flight of the bumblebee at full speed with chords and out-nerd the guys in the video. Ideally on bottles.

Many thanks!


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Kiteman6 years ago
What you need is something to damp the vibration at a certain point.

I would experiment with a "belt" of epoxy or hot-glue at different heights on the bottle, or have a look at the bottle-cutting instructables to shorten the played glass (like xylophones have different-length things to hit).

i'd think cutting the bottles to length would be the most sure fire method for making sure it's spill proof.
frag_me (author) 6 years ago

70 notes is about the number of unique notes played in a true recital of flight of the bumblebee including chords and some twiddly bits. Rages from the 2nd octave right up to the 7th. I also thought about things which changed the air inside the bottle but it's the vibration of the bottle itself not the air which makes the note (several ruined bottles later I reached this conclusion!).

I do indeed have a play-a-piano style control system - a MIDI track of the song I want to play is fed through a MIDI keyboard and into a home-made arduino MIDI shield which then does some clever processing to create as many solenoid outputs as I want.


jelly eh... not a bad idea and also a fun way to eat the evidence if it doesn't work!
caitlinsdad6 years ago
I believe the 70 notes are the number of notes played for that tune before it is repeated. That allows the players to just run along the rows of bottles without having to know how to play the insturment. The actual range of the notes shouldn't vary by an octave or two. So you should only need about 25 or less depending on what is actually played. If you are controlling it by computer, you should have something similar to a player piano. Maybe you can have a piston inside the bottle that you can vary it's height? Don't know if the trombone mechanics work so well with water bottles. Good luck.
Maybe some kind of jelly?

There are a lot of materials that you could fill the bottle with, maybe even silicone could work - something rubbery, the best way to test it would be experimentation, though the pitch changes for materials may be very different.