The Obolon
an imaginary instrument

his is an "imaginary" musical instrument. I invented it in my sleep about twenty years ago [1978?]. At the time, I was listening to a great deal of classical music ... still my favorite type ... actually I agree with H.L.Mencken to a large degree ...

"There are only two types of music, German music and bad music."

In my dream, I was walking down the aisle of a hardware store when I saw ... up on the top shelf, lying down ... a musical instrument which I had never seen before. I took it off the top shelf and began to play the thing - just random notes - to see what it sounded like.

Obolon, a musical instrument It was so excellent that I thought, "Gee, I'd better wake myself out of this dream and make a drawing so that I don't forget the thing."

Immediately I awoke and got myself a pencil and piece of paper and drew a sketch to make it a permanent memory. This is the only time I have ever woke myself from a dream with "conscious intent".

The instrument itself was about six feet long and had some sort of metal stand to place it on while playing in the sitting position (as for an orchestra recital). And ... it was made entirely ... 100% ... out of NYLON.

But the shape of the thing was not what awoke me. It was the sound. I recognized that the sound was NOT IMAGINARY even though the instrument might be totally unworkable. Thus, one could in principle create a device to make the sound. And the sound itself was unique.

There are only two instruments presently that can sustain a concerto ... the violin ... and the piano. All the other instruments are too "weak" to be the lead instrument in the concerto form. They are for the support of the main instrument. (Yes, Vivaldi could make a successful concerto with a kazoo ... but I'm talking the really large, expansive, deeply moving concertos as in Brahms or Beethoven.)

That is what woke me from the dream. The sound of this "nylon woodwind" was on the same footing as the piano and violin. To be sure, a concerto made with this sound would be qualitively different than those former instruments, but it would be just as strong.

The actual sound was smooth like a clarinet but low ... something a bit higher in pitch than a bassoon ... but not really an oboe like sound ...

So I can say with complete assurance that there will exist ... at some future date ... a fundamentally different musical experience for the classical music crowd.

Ebtx Home Page