During IAP 2015, MIT hosted reknowned small-instrument builder Pawel. During his five-day workshop, he inspired us to create some pretty awesome things. For my instrument, I started by experimenting with bowing various glassware. I then found by submerging a beer bottle in the water within the glass, I could change the pitch of the resonating body. As the beer bottle displaces more water, the pitch goes up as there is effectively less glass that is able to vibrate. The rest is damped by the water riding up the side of the glass. Then with a little inguinity I figured out a linkage that would allow me to raise and lower the beer bottle with one hand while bowing it with the other, making it a very simple, single-operator instrument. See the video below.
In operation, I can squeeze the lower bar of the linkage to vary the height of the bottle. I whittled away some of the vertical supports to make the overal operation more ergonomic. Bowing took a bit of practice, but once you get going, it isn't hard to keep this thing resonating.
My friends Otto and Nick playing the 2x4 bass and triangle harp respectively. We gave a final concert in the MIT museum at the end of the workshop. Lots of awesome instruments. Great little class.