The Whalefish was my most used instrument up to around 2005, and occasionally afterwards. It is a sort of one-man-band with many functions, and very flexible. It can be played sitting (usually), standing or walking, because it is totally connected to the body: around the neck theres a thong to which two piano strings attach to the soundboard. From the soundboard there are two wooden legs connected with a foot piece. The movements of the instruments are thus directly connected to the neck, foot and lap.
Apart from playing the strings, there are a number of objects to be played on the sound board (amplified with a contact microphone).
For example, there are: telephone bells, 7 piano strings, an almond grinder, a toy music box, a fire alarm bell, a door bell, wooden rods, a spring, protruding pieces of piano wire, a butter ball maker, hacksaw blades, an older instrument called the Hedgehog with a wooden tongue and rods and an egg slicer.
On the rear side of the Whalefish there are an African mbira, another egg slicer and parts of a coffee grinder. On the rear side, the contact microphone is glued on to the sound board. The resonator plate comes from an old piano.
To go with it, a great number of tools are used, usually put in a special order in a violin case.
For example: a cigarette lighter, coffee stirrers, nail files, playing cards, piano tuning pins, screws, miniature saw, table duster, rubber bands, steel brush, plastic forks, knives and spoons, cake cutters, shell, tooth brush, combs, onion holder, cone, holder for mock-flowers, back scratcher, piano hammers, (for saw playing), hoof scraper (?), ice strainer, barbecue sticks, food sticks, straw, saw blades, necklace, teat, toy guitar, toy horse, onion saw, feathers, nut grater, screwdriver and bows.
Filmed at Fylkingen, Stockholm.
More pictures, sounds and info at
bergmark.org/whalefish

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