Homemade Musical Instruments — Xylophone — waterbottles

Water Bottle Xylophone

Welcome to my page of making and playing a water bottle xylophone. Here you will find: 1) a Virtual Water Bottle Xylophone you can hear right now on your computer; 2) directions on how to build a 5-note water bottle xylophone; and 3) information on building and playing an 8-note water bottle xylophone. So take a couple of minutes, hear the water bottle xylophone and learn how to make this instrument! 

Virtual Water Bottle Xylophone

 
Our Virtual Water Bottle Xylophone plays the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th notes of the Major Scale. It's called the Pentatonic Scale (see below). To hear melodies based on the Pentatonic Scale, see the video on the right, My Five Favorite Fractions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you will hear: more water produces a lower pitch, and less water produces a higher pitch.  In the video (below) you can hear my water bottle xylophone — with the actual sounds I recorded in my kitchen. 

Click the Play button below to hear the water bottles. If you would like to make this instrument, just follow the directions below.

Building a 5-note Water Bottle Xylophone

Start by getting five 20-ounce Sobe juice bottles.  Fill each bottle with the amounts of water shown above using U.S. fluid ounces or milliliters.  Mark your bottles carefully at the water level with a permanent marker.  Number your bottles 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 and arrange them in the order above — 1 on your left and 6 on your right. Gently tap the middle of the bottle with a metal spoon.

If you would like to build an 8-note xylophone that plays many more songs, see below.

Building an 8-note Water Bottle Xylophone

Phil and his daughter, Sarah, went to three different grocery stores and listened to every bottle by striking it with a spoon. They found the best sounding bottles that were readily available, they brought them home, and they cataloged all the notes each bottle could play. Eventually, they had a select list of bottles that sounded great and could be combined to play a full 8-note scale in the key of C  — just like Phil and Sarah's homemade panpipes, glockenspiel, fraction tubes and melodic tube drums. Played together, they created a homemade instrument band with musical arrangements that worked for everyone!

Building instructions are at WaterBottles.pdf. 

For sheet music written in treble clef, and play-along music tracks, check out Phil's Music for Homemade Instruments page.

 

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