How to Make Homemade Musical Instruments With an Octave

By Charlotte Johnson
A xylophone is a pitched percussion instrument.

Making a homemade musical instrument is not only a way to express creativity, but it also serves as a means of learning about the science of sound. Musical instruments are grouped into the categories of "pitched" and "nonpitched" instruments. Nonpitched instruments are hit, scraped or shaken in order to make percussive sounds. Pitched instruments produce various musical tones that vibrate at specific frequencies. When you have eight diatonic musical pitches in a row, you have created an octave. You can make your own musical instruments that will actually play the notes within a musical octave.

Bottle Xylophone

Place eight plastic bottles in a horizontal line.

Fill the first bottle with about 1/4 inch of water.

Fill the next seven bottles with water, increasing the amount of water by 1/4 to 1/2 inch with each consecutive bottle.

Blow across the tops of the bottles one by one to hear each bottle's pitch. The bottle with the least amount of water will have the lowest pitch and the bottle with the most water will have the highest pitch.

Play the notes of an octave (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti and do) on an instrument such as a keyboard.

Adjust the water levels of the bottles until their pitches match the pitches of the octave on the instrument.

Add a drop of food coloring to each bottle. Use a different color for each bottle to add visual appeal to your instrument.

Comb Kazoo

Cut a piece of tissue paper that's large enough to cover a small hair comb.

Place the tissue paper over the comb so that it covers both sides.

Place your lips on the side of the comb and hum. The tissue paper will vibrate against the comb to create a kazoo-like sound.

Change the pitch of your voice as you hum in order to create an entire octave. You can use an instrument as a reference point if you're unsure how an octave should sound. For example, you could play C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C on a keyboard and hum these same notes on your comb kazoo.

About the Author

Charlotte Johnson is a musician, teacher and writer with a master's degree in education. She has contributed to a variety of websites, specializing in health, education, the arts, home and garden, animals and parenting.