Brian O’Neill: eclectic percussionist, drummer, composer (Boston, MA)

Odd Instruments & Toys

A collection of some of my more unusual instruments. When I get some recording gear, I will be posting audio clips of these instruments. In the meantime, some audio is available on a very old site I built in college for my pedagogy class.

Marching Machine

This is a homemade instrument, measuring about by 12” by 16”. One of my favorites, it simulates the sounds of boots marching down a street. Sounds best when played on top of a piece of plywood over a metal garbage can. I often end up playing it on a cajon which also works pretty well. The really cool ones are much larger, sometimes with handles protruding from one side, and measuring 3’ by 5’. The “men” 4” by 4” blocks. Those instrument’s are best suited for orchestras and concert bands where volume is important. If I had room, I would have one that big too! You can hear this instrument on WAITIKI's first CD, Charred Mammal Flesh: Exotic Music for BBQ.

Udu

This is one of my favorite instruments. You’ve probably heard the udu on pop tunes but didn’t realize what the instrument was that you were hearing. The udu is made of clay, and my instrument is of the Steve Wright variety. Steve calls the drum an ubang since his version of the drum is slightly different in shape to the normal udu form which is more teardrop-shaped. I bought Steve’s because it sounds great, fits in your lap quite nicely, and can also be mounted on a stand easily. I've recorded this on two albums with WAITIKI.

Cajon

Another favorite instrument. The drumset in a box. Every time I take this to a club, I get questions; people usually think it’s just a box! The ones with snares are especially great for light, acoustic music of any style. This is a bass cajon by FatCongas and I generally use this for just about all my multi-percussion setups except in Flamenco which sounds best with a snared-cajon. It sounds great with brushes too and works well when the ensemble has no bass player. I've played this on most my recordings.