Welcome to Pataphonia, a land of strange yet delightful sounds and bizarre musical instruments. It lies somewhere between the realms of fantasy and reality. Pataphonia comes from the words pataphysics or the science of imaginary phenomena, and the Greek word phōnía which means voice.
On the outside, Pataphonia looks like a rustic house from the 15th century. But once you enter its doors, you are dared to imagine that you are crossing into another world where the air is filled with extraordinary sounds and undreamt-of music.
In this place, there are no violins or trumpets or any other instruments commonly found in the real world. The music of Pataphonia emanates from everyday ordinary objects, junk materials, and trinkets you never thought could make music.
Pataphonia is divided into four regions: Saxofolie, Métalodie, Aqualubie, and Lithosphère.
In Saxofolie, there is only one instrument. An organ that looks like it was constructed by a madman. It has five separate parts consisting of wood, plastic tubes, air pumps, and fuel injectors, all connected by 54 plastic pipes. This organ makes some playful and crazy sounds only heard in the folie capital of Pataphonia.
Quirky sounds coming from a quirky organ
In the region of Métalodie, you can make music using cans, nails, wheel spikes, wrenches, flat irons, and metal pipes. The improvised instruments can produce a lovely symphony of chimes, tinkles, and jangles.
Ordinary metal objects turned musical instruments
At Aqualubie, you will be invited to close your eyes and listen to the songs and rhythm of water and daily objects like pots, buckets, shells, and plastic bottles. Rich, mystical tones will grace the air as each item comes in contact with water.
Music from aquatic flutes and daily objects
Lithosphère is a region where stones and rocks are transformed into musical instruments. A marble platform can be played like a xylophone by bouncing a ball on its surface or by striking it with mallets. You can also compose tunes by hitting some blueschist rocks or bathroom tiles.
Rock music quite literally
Aside from its four regions, Pataphonia has a music hall where natives and guests can do some jamming. You can pick from an array of unconventional instruments such as tube percussions and pipe saxophones.
The wild musical contraptions of Pataphonia are creations of instrument-maker Max Vandervorst along with Pataphon natives Michel Rossi Mori and Olivier Gobert.
Jazz session using tube percussions and pipe saxophone
A visit to Pataphonia can awaken your senses to the musical possibilities just lying around in the real world. Any object can be an instrument, and music can be anywhere and everywhere. All you need is some imagination and a bit of creativity.
The land of Pataphonia is tucked away in the House of Pataphony in the town of Dinant in Namur. This artistic and musical town is the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the Belgian who invented the saxophone.