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Waterphone: The Sound That Haunts Hollywood
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Go to extrordinary on the Mike dot com. That's extrordinary on the Mike dot com produced in partnership with Cole Haan. You have reached the every little thing helpline, please leave your message after the tone. Hi, laura. This is Marianna. I've been watching old episode of unsolved mysteries. And there's this weird sound commit. That's just kind of chilly. I just really wanna know why ever so spooky and what the heck kind of instrument is making it. I hope you know, the answer to this or you know, people who. Hello. Hey, this is Bler from every little thing calling. You back about the spooky sound effect. Hey. I'm also hearing a sound effect in the background. Yeah. So I have a baby she's about five months old and she just eight and she was in such a good mood. And now she has hiccups. And so that's kind of the soundtrack of my life right now is these little hiccups. Do you wanna play her? The spooky sound do called about to see if we can scare him out of her. I'm not into torturing, but what's her name? Her name is Suzanne and we call her Suzie. Okay. Great. Well, maybe I'll ask her a question here in there. Okay. Okay. Marianna you called about a sound that you heard unsolved mysteries. So we began our investigation with the primary source extrordinary UFO vent. Judge yourself. Okay. Let me play for you. One more time. Yeah. That's my sound. It does give particular vibe. I mean, we tried mocking up that same scene with another classic sound effect. Let's to see if you can hear the difference. Okay. Okay. So it's going to be subtle though. So you gotta listen carefully. Okay. I can do that. Okay. Carrot goes. Was it an extraordinary UFO event, judge you so. That was alarming. But in a totally different kind of way more like like like jump out of your skin. Scary like clown scary. Yes. Yes. Like, clowns scary, exactly. Like there's this clown behind me with one of those like squeeze to bugle things. So marianna. Here's the thing. This sound. Didn't just haunt unsolved mysteries. Like ghosts? The sound is actually everywhere. Okay. It was in Star Trek, this device Sieff. No. The matrix, really? Back to the future. Batman, I've heard of a few of these art house productions Chinatown poltergeist, dick, Tracy alien Jurassic Park containing the fossilized remains of a prehistoric mosquito the usual suspects crouching tiger hidden dragon Black Hawk Down let the right one in X files. True. Blood lost Mummy Returns, Harry Potter and the goblet of fire a Christmas, Carol Ugo and a whole series of movies about hobbits fighting over jewelry nasty dirty wit. News e smells this was a Hobie tone. And that means good food. Tell me how they make it. Or we just, wow, I'm in Patia. Sorry. I'm so excited about it. Okay. Marianna? What do you want to know? It just doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard before. And I don't understand like what kind of instrument are they using to make this terrible sound. Okay. This sound comes from an instrument called a water phone a water phone a water phone like a phone that is like electrified, and it is in a bucket of water or something maybe that's too on the nose. But I just sent you a picture. Okay. And we'll put on the Instagram to up here. We go o k so it's like a pipe with a bunch of other pipes. I mean, I think if I found this on the street, I would think it was kind of weird street art. Yes. So the water phone is made up of two metal salad bowls. Welded together with tines sticking up around the sides. It's like the salad bowl is wearing a crown. But how does the sound actually come out you put water in the salad bowl center? And then you play it by hitting with a mallet or running against the times ochre. How how old is a single is this an ancient type of instrument or is this a newer creation? I love that. You think it's ancient because it does look that way. Yeah. We found someone who can resolve this mystery for you her name is Ramey. Okay, remy. The water phone was invented in a chicken coop. Turned welding shed in my backyard Raimi's dad, Richard waters, invented the water phone in nineteen sixty eight. He was an artist and a musician. He passed away a couple of years ago. But Ramey says this is how you should picture the water funds. Birthplace imagine, you're an indoor junkyard. Like miss crap medal, everywhere were bits and pieces of rubber and string and rope. And he had a like the guts of a piano in there. Just standing up against the wall. And you could play it just like like a harp. Almost you know, they could pick up the strings now picture Richard waters, a little over thirty years old Brown hair with a beard, welding salad bowls together. He would just sort of slap on a pair of glasses because it can injure your eyes. So he did do that and a leather vest. And then he would just weld out on the over hang. He's like my arms are fine. The yeah. Yeah. I mean in for the most part they were. So I'm figuring him in just a leather vest. Jeans jeans pants for sure. Yeah. Okay. I have the picture. I got it. Okay. Get please hold that image in your mind. Because these are the fertile conditions from which this sound sprung. He just sort of refined it over the years. And by the end, he had a Tig welder. And was engraving his name into them like assigned piece. Why did he invent this? You know, I don't know. I think he saw it as an artistic endeavor. From what Ramey says making money from the water phone was not her dad's priority that just wasn't his interest. He if he had like eighteen water phone orders. But he felt like going to the beach that day. He just went to the beach. He just didn't. He just didn't care. It's weird that someone who basically didn't seem to be all that interested in business managed to parlay this instrument this like weird instrument into something that now we've all heard how did he manage that? I think Susie really wants to know. I know she does. She's like, why are you making me wait so long Suzy? I asked Ramey that very question. So how did the water phone go from your backyard to being used across Hollywood productions? I think it was word of mouth. I mean, either has to be like a patient zero. But I do not know who it was. But we do. After the rake we pay a visit to the legendary percussionist who catapulted the water phone to start them. This up Assode of every little thing is brought to you by the makers of Hillshire snacking, small plates of flavorful combination of high-quality meat and artisanal cheese want to elevate your snacking experience Hillshire snacking, small plates takes the guesswork out of food pairing. Each snack is perfectly portioned and thoughtfully curated like Italian dry salami with natural Gouda cheese. The salami is smoked and spiced and made with black pepper, garlic nutmeg and fennel at a sharp yet sweet Gouda and some toasted crackers and you have one of the most popular Hillshire snacking small plates. It's a snack designed to blend. Interesting textures and flavors and excite your taste buds. There are more than a dozen varieties. Hillshire snacking small plates to choose from from seasoned beef with us Iago to shoot sharp white cheddar consider one for your next snack break and see where they're called a snack above. Look for Hillshire snacking, small plates in your local supermarket, or and he'll Shire snacking dot com. This of every little thing is brought to you by squarespace with squarespace. You can create a beautiful website without knowing anything about coding, which is good because coding is hard. And no one knows that better than Kurt Melby. He's a software engineer here Gimblett Kirk. What is the most nightmarish thing about coating? Okay. 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So you burrowed burrowed what did you borough? I have a three couch and my partners six four is not petite he's taller than you like most people including children. And honestly like, okay. So today, I left the house, and he was fully laid out on the Cairo ch- if that long, but yeah, it came through. It was no drama. They sent me four boxes, and it was like fairy simple with borough. You can customize your so far online and get it shipped to your door for free. You can even order one with Filton USB charger all with no drama right now, you can also save seventy five dollars on a new sofa by going to burrow dot com slash DLT. Again to get seventy five dollars off, just go to burrow dot com slash Yeltsi. Marianna we've found the guy who made the water phone thing. Hi, I'm flora, thank you for having me. I meet Aimal Richards, an eighty six year old percussionist who lives in LA his house is right between Warner Brothers and Universal Studios. And in film scoring circles. He is the celebrity in fact when I walked in. There was an entourage of young musicians sitting on his living room couches. Hi, sorry. Interrupt your visit. So, you know, I'm here. No, you're. The water phone. I know. Aimal has played music with George Harrison Frank Sinatra Doris day, Charles Mingas, Perry coamo, Judy Garland, and he's worked on more than two thousand movie scores. Holy mackerel. He's a living legend or in his words, a freak. I was the freak at the time. The main free. When I talked to Aimal he dropped the freak bomb eleven times in twenty four minutes. Wow. Okay. But most precocious. With sound. Anyway, you know, were you always a sound freak probably started seven seven years old. I usually get thrown out of hardware stores. What would you do bang two pieces of metal together? You know, just trying to come up with a different sound that I hadn't heard before. It was annoying to people in going to a hardware store looking for drywall something after a while get out. What is that? You're making too much noise. Get outta here. And once a freak always a free as an adult Aimal traveled the world collecting instruments that made different sounds. He hadn't heard before every time. I came back from a trip. My phone would ring off the hook composers. What's new? I gotta have the first use of it. You know that happened all the time. Aimal became the go-to person in Hollywood for new and interesting sounds and someone who knew Richard waters told Aimal he had to hear the water phone. I heard it. I thought it was pretty interesting pretty strange and being the sound freak that I was I had to have one. What was it about this instrument that you said, what do you think you tell me? No, you tell me you're the expert. You're what do you think of the sound? I think it's wild. That's what I thought. And I I knew it would enhance all the percussion is amunition to show composers into work with this is how we go from patients hero to water phone pandemic Aimal showed it off composers heard. It's weird spooky sound. And enables words they all freaked. You know, they offer. He still has his water phone. Let me hear it. Okay. So if you put some water in. He took it to the kitchen sink. Turn on the tap, build it up and played it for you. Sounds like. That's. Do you know, do you know, like the first time it was in a movie? Yes, it was nineteen seventy one and the movie was called the Hellstrom chronicle whose documentary, and I think it was on bugs. And I just wanted to get a taste of the movie some I'm sending you a link. Okay. I see these like, oh my God. Is that a snake? I'm not sure what that is. It's either a snake or like millions of ants. It's cold. She off who the driver rant. A mindless unstoppable killing machine. Dedicate just some strange stuff. It was very strange footage and this instrument worked really well driven forward through the doctors by a single demanding meat within the need to kill and plunder. Oh, they're building. Like an aunt made bridge. They're like on these rocks. Okay. I need to pause really gross. Pas I'm going to focus back on you. Yes. Focus because that insect documentary was just the beginning from there. The water phone spread across IMDB like a swarm of ants. Can we go back to solve mysteries? How did it end up unsolved mysteries? Well, you're in luck Marianna. There is a person who can tell us how this strange in specific instrument ended up on this strange and specific show. Her was laughing how what a narrow subject this is. It's like will. I be able this is Gary, Malcolm he scored unsolved mysteries for fourteen years. Wow. Gary thank you for scaring me as a child. Oh my God. Well is pay back because I used to get scared by the guy who did Perry. Mason in the sixties. Trill and then dot up and stop. Right. And it was so pardon me. I shouldn't say that was so it was so startling. I I would have to agree. So Gary wanted to startle this that of his own audience, but instead of using trilling violence stabs, he had another tool the waterfall was a prime example of the kind of thing we did to a stab that. There was something for boating, and unknown and unexplainable that was coming into the scene and nothing could do it better than these kinds of sounds so Marianna diva theory about why the water phone is creepy like what it is about that sound that makes it work. I bet it works because it's not something that any of us have ever heard. It's not something that we can say, oh, that's just a violin. Don't worry about it. 'cause it's not anything. You know, you learn out in music class. That's actually very close to Gary's theory. A lot of what makes things chilling and scary. And a lot of the reasons why the water phone has been so affective is it can go between all the lines of of the scale that we've determined in western music. That's the twelve tones, right? So we go see. ABC's the normal diet tonic scale and most western music is based around those notes. Uh-huh. So the water phone has the full spectrum of sound and floats through it quite freely. The water phone doesn't stick to the scale that most people are used to win you alter that just right out the gate, you're dealing with something that frightens people because it's so out of their context it so out of their context of understanding of what that is. Right. And that's one of the things that scares the of people if you listen to unsolved mysteries, and you were accustomed to atonal music. Would it be? Just like a happy show. Not scary at all. Sitcom, that's a great question. I love that. Well, in a way now, it's so retro that. It is funny. But Marianne Gary had another theory about what might make the water phone creepy. I think it has something to do with our relationship to suffering and the human voice, right? So the ultimate in some ways very easy way to get people afraid is to move into a sound texture that imitates a level of groaning of sobbing of moaning of haunting of. The waters phone is another expression of the crime. And by the way, I've never said these words before so I'm totally temporizing. But it makes sense to me that sound that we're most afraid of are the sounds of grief and loss because most people are terrified of death Lawson Elvis, and these sounds remind us of the things we most are frayed of it's my theory. And I never said it before this moment. So there, you know, whenever minds me have a little bit. Also is like sad sounds like either babies make or like the weird creepy sound that cats make like. Oh, the low meow. Yeah. Exotic can the background right now. Is there a cap yelling on cue? We we thought that she'd be quieter if I put her away and that has not worked out very well. So what do you think mystery on unsolved? Yeah. Definitely mystery unsolved. I actually think the sound feels less scary now to me I'll have to see when I watched unsolved mysteries again. Well, Marianna big news on that front. I can't officially say this. But let's say that very soon a new popular streaming service. We know coming forth, you know, about it state. You hear the news? I did hear the news, and I'm really excited about it. Netflix reboot unsolved mysteries is coming back. Hopefully, they're going to use the same music. Gary. Are you going to score it? I'm I've thrown my hat in the ring, you know, pray for me, baby. I'm hoping to get it. I really wanna do the theme. Spore be great after all these years. Will we hear the water phone in it? Well, you know, if I get the score. I'll be sure to put the water phone in more. That'd be really great. Thank you for reminding me. Yeah. It's like they say on Saturday Night Live where they say more cowbells more water phone just more water phone all the time. If you have a question, you can't find the answer to give us a ring. Eight three three ring Yale TV, and if you like Yeltsi do favor until a friend than take their phone out of their bag and forcibly subscribe them to the show, they can find on Stitcher or wherever they get their podcasts. Every little thing is produced by Aaron Reese, Phoebe Flanagan a net heist and flora Lichtman with help from Nicole Pacifica, and Doug, Barron, our consulting it so Caitlin Kenny and hor, hey, just scored by DARA Hirsch and Bobby Lord mixed by DARA Hirsch special. Thanks to Brooks Hubbert. Oh. Goodbye. So let him go down with something heating. No. On the new podcast conviction. We asked how do you get Justice when the Justice system fails, you I know my son was innocent. And I couldn't prove subscribed to conviction to hear the story of one family fighting for Justice in the private investigator who may have taken that a little too far this now wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our sponsor squarespace to build your next website in minutes. Go to squarespace dot com slash LT for a free trial. And when you're ready to launch us the offer code e l t to save ten percent off your first purchase of a website for domain. Thanks to our sponsor borough borough delivers stylish modular sofas to your door in reasonably sized boxes. Get seventy five dollars off anew. So by going to burrow dot com slash Yeltsin. Thanks to our sponsor the makers of Hillshire snacking, small plates, curated combination of high quality, meat and artistic cheese. Look for them in your grocery store or at Hillshire, snacking dot com.
Every Little Thing