Introduction: How to Play Auld Lang Syne on Hydraulophone (underwater Pipe Organ)

I came up with a simple arrangement of Auld Lang Syne for hydraulophone.

The melody is pentatonic and there's 2 keys you can nicely play it in on a standard park hydraulophone as you would find in many waterparks (like Legoland in Carlsbad California, African Lion Safari in Canada, etc.), playgrounds, museum spaces (like Mayborn Museum in Texas or Chicago Children's museum, etc.), science centres, and the like.

You might also have built your own hydraulophone following one of my previous Instructables, from scratch, or from a Splashtones kit (see

The melody plays nicely on the interval from C to d (one octave plus one whole tone) or from D to e.

More generally, for these two options, here is the key they fall in, along with the compass (range of notes), and a list of the notes within that key that are used by the melody:

....Compass;....Notes required; ....Key ....
....C to d ;C,D,F,G,c,d ;F-major
....D to e ; D,E,G,a,d,e ; G-major


Where the two differ more substantially is in the accompanying chords.

Hydraulophone is like an underwater flute that has 12 mouthpieces, so it can play up to 12 notes at the same time! Therefore to make full use of the polyphony, let's consider the two options.

Here are the chords in the the key of F-major:

F, C, F, Bflat, F, C, Dminor, Gminor, F

and here are the chords in the key of G-major:

G, D, G, C, G, D, Eminor, Aminor, D, G.

Many hydraulophones installed in public parks/waterparks, beaches, museums, etc., don't provide end users with access to the tuning screws or valves or any adjustments of key, or the like.

Thus, in F-major we'll play the Bflat chord rootless, and we'll play the Gminor without the Bflat, i.e. as a Gsus.

In G-major we'll play the D chord as a Dsus chord (i.e. omit the F# from the chord).

It sounds better in G-major, because roots are more important to chords than the 3rd element of the chord.

And I kind of like the way the Dsus sounds.

Therefore, let's start with the key of G-major.

In the following step, I'll provide my arrangement for Auld Lang Syne in G-major for the 12-jet hydraulophone.

Step 1: The KEY to Good Music Is Play.

In the above diagram is my arrangement for Auld Lang Syne on 12-jet hydraulophone, with notes running left-to-right, and time-axis running down the page. Chords appear to the left, and lyrics are to the right, as a point-of-reference (e.g. with the lyrics that correspond to chord onset capitalized).

The KEY to good music is play, fun, and frolic, i.e. to play in the water!

Step 2: Experiment and Have Fun

When recording hydraulophone, note that many cameras and audio recorders have a wind noise filter which you should turn off (the low frequencies of the hydraulophone often falsely trigger wind noise filters).

You also need a high quality sound recording because the gentle flowing sound of water doesn't compress well in highly compressed sound recording formats.

It is also good to set the sound levels manually.

Experiment with different sound levels. Distortion can sound bad, but for some people, "badder" is better. The above video was recorded with too high a gain setting, but it does sound interesting, especially since hydraulophones tend toward the deeper sounds, and the distortion produces some interesting harmonics. You can also put a microphone up to the instrument and run it through some effects such as distortion, etc..

Step 3: Minor Modifications

Above videos: Auld Lang Sigh, New Year's Tears (a melancholy and more introspective version)

Top: Minor version on 12-jet hydraulophone (with Klezmer mode valve in up/away position);

Bottom: Minor version on 45-jet concert hydraulophone.

The New Year is a time of introspection, as we celebrate but also, in some ways, mourn, the passing on of another year.

I offer, therefore, a more introspective version, arranged for hydraulophones that have the Klezmer "Misheberakh" / harmonic minor mixed mode (A, B, C, D#, E, F#, G, A, b, c, d, e), engaged by moving the key valve up and away from the player's position.

Step 4: Share Your Work

If you arrange any songs to play on hydraulophone, please click "I made it" and reply to this Instructable. Let's help each other out, as a community, and provide advice and feedback and commentary on songs arranged for hydraulophone.


About This Instructable




Bio: I grew up at a time when technologies were transparent and easy to understand, but were evolving toward insanity and incomprehensibility. So I wanted to ... More »
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