The idea of a single person making a band's worth of music is as old as music itself. While many modern devices, such as computers and electronics, make it easy to be a one-person band, it is more fun to build your own! Here are two simple contraptions to start your band.


The Devil's Fiddle (or bumbass, pogo cello, stumpf fiddle, etc.) The Devil's Fiddle is a European musical instrument that has been around for hundreds of years. The earliest mention of it is in an Icelandic document around the 1600s, and it appears to have been used in festivals and street fairs all over Europe.

During the 20th century, versions of the Devil's Fiddle called the pogo cello, or stumpf fiddle, were sold through mail-order catalogs across the United States. Basically, it is a single-string instrument with various rattles and noisemakers attached to it. The string is bowed with a notched stick as the whole instrument is stamped on the ground to activate the rattles.
Here is how to make your own:
You will need:
  • A wooden broomstick
  • A length of string (nylon twine or 60+ lb. test fishing line is best)
  • A large plastic bottle (something sturdier than the average soda bottle, like a big apple juice bottle, or sport drink bottle)
  • Various rattles, bike horns, drums, and other noisemakers
  • A paint stirrer or ruler
  • Duct tape
Instructions

1. First, tie the string to the pole. (If your stick has an end for screwing into a mop or broom head, the threaded area is a good place to tie the string.) You may need to ask an adult to cut a notch in the pole so that the string stays tight. On the other side of the pole, attach the string again. Notch and tie is good, or consider using a thumb tack to hold the string in place.

2. Take the plastic bottle and slide it between the string and the pole (you may need to adjust the string until it is tight). Slide the bottle down toward one end of the pole until the tension of the string holds the bottle in place.

3. Use the paint stirrer or ruler to strike the string. On a real devil's fiddle, the stick has notches cut into it , but that is not really necessary.

4. Using duct tape, or various clamps available at your hardware store, start to attach rattles and other noisemakers to the pole. Some possibilities are: Coffee cans with beans inside, film cans with pennies inside, bicycle horns or bells, metal cans, pie plates, etc. The idea is to attach so many things that when you stamp the pole on the ground, it makes a rattling, crashing, shaking sound.

Neck Holder for Blown Thingies
This device is used by folk musicians who blow harmonica while playing guitar. It is basically a wire hanger re-bent to hold blown instruments (like kazoos, whistles, bird calls, etc.) up near your mouth. You Will Need:

  • A wire coat hanger
  • Various blown thingies (kazoos, whistles, bird calls)
  • Tape*

Bend a coat hanger so it can be put around the neck with a straight part in front of the mouth (see picture).
* Attach the blown thingies to the straight part with tape.