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The Great American Horn Machine GAHM

The loudest MIDI instrument ever ?  

Dana Dolfi has created what is probably the loudest MIDI controlled instrument ever made out of recycled ship, truck and train air horns and steam whistles. 

Dolfi, a pipe-fitter and project manager for Chapman Corp. in Washington, Pennsylvania sets his 3-ton, red, white and blue atop a car trailer and performs at Maker Faires, July Fourth events and graduation parties. 

But his contraption (It’s great when you can use an old-timey word like contraption in it’s proper context) creates some limitations in where he can perform.  The GAHM is as loud as a jet engine and so Dana marks off a 100 yard perimeter around the instrument and even then recommends ear plugs.  It’s no wonder it is so loud as it is powered by a gasoline-powered air compressor and a 620-gallon air tank blows the horns and whistles. 

Among the horns and whistles Dolfi has collected are a large horn from the USS Mississinewa, a Naval replenishment oiler; horns off a Coast Guard cutter and an ocean-going dredge; a horn that was used on a California drawbridge; a set of horns from a Great Lakes ore freighter; whistles from the Donora American Steel and Wire Works; an 1890s whistle from a fire hall in Gloucester, Mass.; a whistle from an antique popcorn machine, and several train and towboat horns and whistles.

by Karen Mansfield
Staff Writer for the award-winning Observer-Reporter. a daily newspaper headquartered in Washington, Pa., the newspaper has been part of Southwestern Pennsylvania since the early 1800s.

The Great American Horn Machine has performed at lots of Maker Faires and here are a couple of video examples. 

Happy Memorial Day-2016