The Water Organ

The Forgotten Fish Memory water organ was invented by their banjo player, Bor Berzerka. It was an ingeniously simple device which used plastic jerrycans, cut off at the bottom, with accordion reeds fitted into the top of the can. The air is pushed through the reed by immersing the can into water. It was originally designed to be played in large bodies of water, lakes, ponds or even the ocean. It’s difficult to transport the ocean to performances, so as a solution, very large buckets of the type found on construction sites were used.

The most recent version of the water organ used by the orchestra was built by Makmed the Miller using a slightly modified design. The reeds were custom-made by a local accordion repairer. She made them in such a way that two different notes could be played depending on whether the vessel was pushed down into the water or pulled upwards. An added feature was to extend the size or capacity of the jerrycans by using lengths of heavy plastic tubing connected to air-tight plastic bottles. This would increase the volume of the music.

The water organ has a mesmerising sound and brings a dramatic visual quality to the live performancesboth mystifying and charming audiences who initially cannot detect the source of the organ sound.

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