Savart’s Wheel (Annoying Music)

There are so many instruments that folks feel are annoying. Some people feel that Bagpipes are annoying.

Some folks feel that the accordion is annoying.

Some folks think that other peoples voice is annoying.

Some folks feel that the Theremin is annoying

They are all wrong. The most annoying instrument in the world is the Savart’s wheel. The wheel was  originally invented by  English scientist Robert Hooke  and named after French physicist Félix Savart. It was intended to demonstrate sound waves. Later it was used to measure the range of human hearing and to demonstrate time perception.

But it was Burt Hopkin, builder of experimental musical instruments, who first used it as a musical instrument, an annoying, irritating, obnoxious musical instrument. The device consists of a ratchet-wheel with a large number of uniformly spaced teeth. When the wheel is turned slowly while the edge of a card is held against the teeth a sequence of clicks can be heard. When the wheel is spun rapidly it produces a shrill tone.  If the wheel is allowed to turn more slowly, the tone  decreases in pitch. Since the frequency of the tone is proportional to the rate at which the teeth strike the card, a Savart’s Wheel can be adjusted to provide an absolute measure of pitch. Several wheels of different sizes, with different numbers of teeth, can also be attached so several pitches can be produced. Thus one can make music. Kinda. It is annoying. Here decide for yourself.   I give you “Baby Don’t Go” by Burt Hopkin. It is  annoying. Dont say I didn’t warn you. ( just click the arrow and turn up the volumne)