John Powell



In this section you'll find a number of music-related articles written in recent years by John Powell for the the US radio programme Science Friday, and music papers such as New Musical Express.


They are, as you might expect, full of interesting information written in John's quirky, informative style.


We hope you enjoy them. If you have any questions please use the comments box, or contact John by email.


the magnificent drinking straw oboe and the melifluous beer bottle flute




If you take a drinking straw and squash one end flat for about an inch, and then cut the end to a point – as in the illustration – you will be the proud possessor of a drinking straw oboe. Some of you might now be content with simply owning one of these magnificent instruments without playing it. This is perfectly understandable........


Stevie Wonder disco king



Why do some tracks clear the floor at weddings whilst others have couples rushing up to dance (even people like me, whose dancing is generally considered to be reprehensible in style, and implausible in execution)? We all have our favourites - from Donna Summer to Beyonce, and no matter how much musical training you have.......


the future of the bass guitar



The trouble with bass guitars is that they are so damn heavy.  If you’ve ever put one around your neck you’ll know that within thirty seconds the guitar strap starts cutting into your shoulder – and, if you’re right handed, a couple of minutes later it’ll cut off the blood supply to the left hemisphere of your brain. This is the side that......


rumble strip



A few days ago I was driving along the freeway admiring the sunset, and my front wheel ran along the rumble strip for a second or two.  Those of you who drive more carefully than I do might never have done this – but the strip consists of a series of little bumps along the edge of the road that make a noise when you run along them.  But it’s not just any old noise – you actually create a musical note......