The Harrow & Other Invented Instruments

My earliest instrument was the upright bass, which I played from the third grade to the end of high school. When I got to college there was not a good opportunity to play the bass, and I soon fell in with a crowd of strange-music weirdos at WCUW Community Radio. I learned of and admired inventors/adaptors of strange musical instruments such as John Cage, Harry Partch, Harry Breuer, Eugene Chadbourne and Robert Rutman. Seeing Eugene perform on the rake and Rutman’s steel cellos was inspiring.

One day when walking home to my apartment on Castle Street, behind Castle Furniture and Appliance, I found a wringer washing machine lid, half-buried in the mud. I dragged it out and gave it a few experimental whacks and fell in love. I took at home and began experiment with ways to excite its musical energies. Mallets, erasers and particularly my old bass bow. I performed exclusively on the lid for twenty years, and have built several different body styles for it. Currently it is sort of a collapsible cello shape.

In the past few years I have branched out into new invented instruments including the Leaf Springoleon, the Crutch, the Bass Rake and the Electroluxopipeophone. Currently I am devoting most of my energies to the Harrow – pictured here.

I have performed in many groups including currently the Viae Ensemble, Mass Sonics, Judas and Natasha Experiment, The Invented Thing Quartet, and PKD, as well as solo and in floating duos and trios.

Invented Instruments and Bands

I have been associated with WCUW Community Radio since 1978, and continue to do radio shows on a rotating basis on Music Under the Moon, with co-hosts Andrew Cimino and Seamus Williams.

I perform on various self-invented musical instruments, as well as doing occasional audio mash-ups.

The Invented Thing Quartet
Bob Jordan, Mitchel Ahern, Ken 42R Dowen, Scott Haig, Marshall Brooks; Active 1980-1990

The Mass Sonics: Mark Mills, Mitchel Ahern, (Debi Lang percussion in performance); Active 1980-1984

The Judas and Natasha Experiment
Judas and Natasha Hannah, Mitchel Ahern, Mark Mills, Michael Bloom, Maxwell McLean, Mike Castellana, Peter Hoepfer

Mitchel Ahern Solo

  • 05 The Spirit of Christmas
  • 04 This War on Terror
  • 07 Dec 20 2006 Droneage
  • 108 Defilements of Buddhism [too big for WordPress hosting]
  • Mitchel Ahern’s Invented Instruments
  • 02 Circular Reasoning 1
  • 03 Circular Reasoning 2
  • 05 Dremellid 1
  • 06 Electroluxopipeophone 1
  • 07 Squeeked Lid
  • 08 Acoustic Bowed Lid
  • 09 Cheesy Lid
  • 10 Percussive Lid with Delay
  • 11 Sequential Lid
  • 13 Plucked Raque Treated 1
  • 15 Spring Back Sample 1

Mitchel Ahern and Joe Brown
  • SNGLRTY [too big for WordPress hosting]

Mitchel Ahern and Doug Hammer
  • 01 Alien Code
  • Ocean Graveyard [too big for WordPress hosting]
  • 03 My Dental Nightmare

Mitchel Ahern and Pacey Foster
  • Psalad Days [too big for WordPress hosting]

Music Under the Moon Archives (on

  • Music Under the Moon 2012-08-21