Grainger Museum

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Musical Instruments and accessories

There are approximately 250 musical instruments in the collection.



Including upright pianos, square pianos, grand pianos, harmoniums, Dulcitone, Weber Duo-art reproducing piano


Tuned Percussion:

Including staff bells, metal marimba, wooden marimbas, xylophones, tuned glasses , mallets



Including harp, harp guitar, guitars, ukuleles, viol, violin



Including clarinets, oboes, flute, fife, slide whistles, sarrusophones, saxophone, trombones


Non-Western Instruments:

Including didjeridoo, clapping sticks, auto-zither, ban hu, gong, yueh ch'in (moon guitar), san hsien, yang chin, rabâb, drums, kerar, sansa, maracas



Accordion, concertina, Theremin


Hirschfeld-Mack Collection:

Experimental wooden wind and string instruments made and designed by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Weimar Bauhaus trained artist and teacher


Percy Grainger's Experimental Free Music Machines ('Tone-Tools'):

Including Butterfly Piano (prepared child's piano), Reed-Box Tone-Tool, “Kangaroo-Pouch” Tone-Tool, prepared piano roll for Grainger's composition Sketches for Sea Song, Sliding Pipe “Free Music" invention.

Experimental wooden wind and string instruments made and designed by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Weimar Bauhaus trained artist and teacher. Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack was born in Germany in 1893 and studied painting and art history in Munich before serving in World War I. In 1919 he commenced studies at the newly opened Weimar Bauhaus School of Art, Design and Architecture. Hirschfeld Mack’s particular interests were colour and design. He explored the dynamic relationships between colour, light, music and movement in performances he referred to as ‘colour light plays’. Hirschfeld Mack was also an accomplished musician and craftsman, and the influence of his Bauhaus training and fascination with colour is demonstrated in his innovative approach to instrument design. Hirschfeld Mack left Germany due to the rising Nazi regime and moved to London in 1936. However during World War II he was interned as an enemy alien and deported to Australia. In 1942, thanks to the determined efforts of Dr James Darling (headmaster of Geelong Grammar), Hirschfeld Mack was released and appointed art master at the grammar school, where he remained until retirement in 1957. It was in his retirement that he worked most actively on the ‘colour chord’, providing sets of instruments for various children’s centres and schools. In 1971 and 1980 his wife Olive donated his collection of instruments to the Grainger Museum.
Leather is not the most commonly used material in musical instrument fabrication but Garry Greenwood (1943-2005), a sculptor who worked with leather for 25 years, experimented with its acoustic properties. Using the leatherworker’s techniques of wet forming, moulding and carving laminated leather, he produced wind, stringed and percussion instruments, that not only have unique sonic properties but are aesthetically rich and often humorous. Although a skilled amateur musician, Greenwood rarely played his instruments but preferred to collaborate with other musicians to develop instruments to suit their specific needs. This included working with experimental musicians to create electronic instruments and semi-acoustic instruments. Greenwood was also interested in costume design and combined his interests in the production of playable masks. Near the end of his life he perfected the mountain harp, a bronze and leather 12-stringed instrument that, although loosely related to other conventional instruments, is a new instrument in its own right.