I was feeling a little unfocused and restless yesterday so decided to go for a walk after lunch.
I wandered past the charity shop on Leytonstone High Road, as I sometimes do, and decided to have a peek inside.
I came home with a musical instrument. This is why I shouldn't be allowed out of the house unsupervised...
At first glance, it just looks like a box.
A box with strange protrusions and fittings, mind, but a box all the same.
But this is what happens when you get it open!
The "lid" goes all the way vertical...
...then folds backward. Release the little metal tab at the top...
...and you get a bellows!
The bellows are operated with one hand while the other plays the 3/4-size keys.
I don't have enough hands to play and pump and hold the camera.
Brother James's Air by artsyhonker
From what the internet tells me, this is a very simple portable harmonium. More complicated ones have drone stops which, when activated, sound a drone note constantly, and some also have couplers or even separate sets of reeds to give various different textures.
I'm quite pleased with this: I finally have a keyboard instrument that can play more than one note at once which fits on my bicycle. The fact that it doesn't require electricity is an added bonus. I think it will be really good for folk music and some bits of community music, and it suits me a lot better than trying to learn the guitar would (though that is still on the wishlist). But to be honest, I probably would have bought it anyway; I have a soft spot for weird and wonderful instruments, even if they're not all that practical.
There are a few very low and very high notes where the tuning is a bit of an issue, and I'm wondering exactly what is involved in maintenance of an instrument like this. It looks like flathead screwdrivers are required for taking it apart, but I haven't done more than give it a superficial dusting.
(Some of the alignment is messed up in this post, but to fix it I would have to re-upload all of those pictures, so I'm not going to. Sorry. It's staying crooked.)