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flute

Pop Culture

Watch a musician turn a basic drinking straw into an incredible medieval-sounding flute

Peter Bastian combined his training in physics and the bassoon to make this simple yet impressive instrument.

The sound Peter Bastian can pull from a straw is amazing.

Humans have been making music since before recorded history. Phoenix, Arizona's Musical Instrument Museum has over 4,200 musical instruments from around the world on display, and it's fascinating to see all the creative ways people have figured out how to make music over millennia. From turtle shell drums to animal bladder-based wind instruments, the ingenuity humans display in the pursuit of melody, harmony and rhythm is remarkable. It seems we can make music out of almost anything.

Case in point: Danish composer Peter Bastian's plastic straw flute.

When you hear that someone made a flute out of a straw, you might think, "Yeah, I've done that, too." But you've likely never seen one like this. Bastian played it like a double reed instrument, and it's surprisingly enjoyable to hear the sound he could pull out of it.

In this video, Bastian displays several different sounds and styles, which range from oboe-like to medieval flute to bagpipes, so be sure to watch to the end to get the full range. Watch:

"Here is an extraordinary example of the quality of the musician being more vital than the quality of the instrument. Outstanding contrast in timbre!" wrote on commenter on YouTube.

"Not only is it a straw, it's absolutely beautifully played, almost an oboe from nothing! Wonderful, I love the sound and the music," wrote another.

"In 1995 I sat a few meters from him in an auditorium at my music conservatory, listening to him playing on a straw," shared another. "It's hard to understand how Bastian could fill up the entire hall with such incredible resonance. And at the same time making it so beautiful."

According to IMDB, Bastion, who died in 2017, spent nine years studying physics but found himself increasingly drawn to music. Both of his parent were opera singers, and while he played multiple instruments, he primarily played bassoon and clarinet. His book, "Ind I Musikken" ("Into the Music" in English) became a bestseller and he was known for his passionate lectures on music—as well as the folk tunes played on his straw flute.