LAPR logo


Aluminaphone is a type of tubaphone that is tuned microtonally. This instrument can be heard on soundtracks such as Night at the Museum, Fat Albert, The Lady in the Water, Addams Family, Air Force One, Airplane, Beetlejuice, Bewitched, Cool Hand Luke, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Flinstones, Get Smart, Skeleton Key, and Independence Day.

Angklungs (bamboo)

Often favored by composers, these bamboo angklung provide a different sound than other standard percussion instruments, and can be used melodically or just as texture; they also can be used on the rack or taken off and shaken. Like other Indonesian bamboo angklung, Emil’s have double-octave tuning. Some of them he acquired in 1960 from composer Allyn Ferguson, who returned from Laos with four of them, and subsequently wrote for angklung in his scores, including Charlie’s Angels. Emil collected more angklung little by little; however, he acquired a large set of angklung in the 1970's, as an African American Baptist church in Los Angeles was looking to get rid of them because they were not being used. The range of all the sets of Emil’s bamboo angklung is rather substantial, spanning four full octaves, C2-C6. Most composers liked to use the higher angklung, but Lalo Schifrin preferred writing more for the lower ones, which were suspended on large racks. They were also written for in soundtracks by composers Michael Kamen, Johnny Mandel, and Hank Mancini, to name a few. Some soundtracks include Gilligan’s Island, Lethal Weapon films, Dances with Wolves, The Incredibles, King of the Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and King Kong (2005).

Angklungs (metal)

This set of angklungs, made by Deagan, was an early instrument made in the late 1920’s. They are fashioned after the traditional Indonesian bamboo angklung, but made out of metal; therefore, they are more resonant and durable than the bamboo angklung. Each note of the metal angklung play three octaves when rung; they are also called the "Triple Octave Chimes" or "Aluminum Chimes".
These metal angklung were bought by Emil Richards in approximately the late 1980’s from an “old guy” in Los Angeles who was not a musician; Emil heard them and was fascinated by them. The metal angklung are often used as clusters of sounds, but can be played melodically, as they are arranged chromatically. Their range is C4-C6 (counted from the lowest note which rings from each angklung). Having two percussionists allowed 4 note chords to be played, to the favor of Emil and composers he played for. The angklung were used prominently throughout the score of the TV show Lost; they were also used in soundtracks for The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Incredibles, Lethal Weapon films, Fracture, Mr. Woodcock, Rataouille, Meet the Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Robots, Mission Impossible 3, Without a Paddle, Good Morning Vietnam, and Medal of Honor (video game). They were used by composer Jerry Goldsmith often, as well as on a number of older John Williams’ scores.

Anvils (tuned)

Tuned anvils are hollow (but thick) square tubes made from steel alloy and chromed. Emil Richards bought the tuned Anvils at Kolberg Percussion in Germany in the early 2000’s. His particular set of tuned anvils is chromatic and two octaves in range, from C6-C8 (although tuned anvils are available in numerous ranges). Composer James Newton Howard wrote for them often; they were also used in Spiderman 2, I (Heart) Huckabees, Rataouille, Ice Age 2, The Weather Man, and The Simpsons. Emil played the tuned anvils a couple of different ways. First was as a sound effect – simply hitting certain pitches to give a metallic anvil sound. Second, was as melodic instrument. Having them tuned chromatically enabled the melodic performance with an orchestra. And for Emil and other percussionists, having the anvils set up like a mallet keyboard enabled the musician to be fluent on the instrument without having to learn a new note arrangement.

Bass and Contra-bass Marimba

The Emil Richards’ collection bass marimbas were bought at different times; the contrabass marimba (range of G1-G3) in the 1960’s, and the bass marimba (range of C2-F3) in the 1980’s (from percussionist Chet Ricord, who had passed away). Mallets used on the bass marimba range from hard, large mallets to accentuate more of a bass line, to mushy soft mallets to bring out the more sonorous bottom (such as in live marimba ensemble performances). These bass marimbas were used on soundtracks by Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Kamen, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams, and Michael Giacchino. Specifically, they were used on the Kung Fu, Gilligan's Island, and Lost television series; films include Good Morning Vietnam, Lethal Weapon films, Fat Albert, Meet the Fockers, Superman Returns, Lady in the Water, Ratatouille, Blood Diamond, Flags of Our Fathers, King Kong (2005), Bambi 2, Zathura, Mr. Woodcock, Jules Verne Adventures, An Unaccompanied Minor, Cold Mountain, Lemony Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events', Scooby Doo 2, Big Momma’s House 2, Whole Ten Yards, Mean Girls, Van Helsing, Mission Impossible 3, Robots, Monster-in-Law, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.


Boobams were used in numerous film and television scores, especially in the 1960’s and 1970's. Emil Richard’s boobams, (made by GonBops) have been heard on many scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Kamen, Bill Conti, Michael Giacchino, and John Williams. Some soundtracks include Kojak, Lethal Weapon films, Rataouille, Lost, Meet the Fockers, Robots, Oceans 12, The Simpsons, Anchorman, and Flightplan.
When looking for new sounds, composers liked the boobams' ability to play melodically while still sounding different than other standard percussion instruments. Often encouraged by Emil,, composers paired the boobams with other instruments, such as bass marimba, to create other new sounds and textures; according to Emil, composers Lalo Schifrin and Bill Conti were some of the most inventive when it came to “marrying” instruments together and using them as a backdrop in the music (as opposed to writing for boobams and other eclectic instruments of his “out front”, featured individually). In recordings, Emil used soft mallets or cupped hands to play the boobams. The fact that they are open on the bottom makes boobams greatly resonant from underneath, and is the area quite favorable for microphone placement. Arranged chromatically, experienced percussionists are able to play boobams similarly to any other mallet keyboard instrument, which was appealing to Emil. He bought his first set of boobams in the early 1960's from the drum shop Drum City; Remo Belli of the renowned Remo drumhead company was actually working there at the time. Emil purchased his second set of boobams from Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood in the 1960's, along with a number of other instruments, persuaded by the salespeople to do so in order to further legitimize his presence in the percussion rental business. Both sets have a two-octave range of F3-F5.


At the PASIC and NAMM conventions in the 1990’s, founder Craig Ramsell spoke with Emil Richards about the chromatic set of Boomwhackers he had made, as previously he had only been making them in the diatonic scale. Emil would bring the chromatic Boomwhackers to recording sessions, in part to appease certain composers he was working with who would call to ask if he had anything new and interesting to use on their upcoming scores. The chromatic scale and western tuning was appealing to composers, as the Boomwhackers could then be incorporated into the traditional orchestra. As a percussionist, the keyboard layout was appealing to Emil, as it allowed him immediate fluency on the instrument. Using xylophone mallets on them produces a definite pitch, while using yarn or vibe mallets creates a softer, resonant sound.
The Boomwhackers were used in the soundtracks to numerous recordings, and especially cartoons, such as Tiny Toon Adventures.

Bottles (Tuned)

The tuned bottles are actually empty glass sake (Japanese liquor) bottles and were collected by Emil Richards over time. They are one octave and chromatic, tuned to different pitches by filling them with water at various amounts (in general, less water produces a higher pitch). They have a unique sound, and Emil favors them especially when coupled with bells or xylophone. On recordings, Emil used wood mallets, as they projected well and tended to be easier on the bottles than the other option of acrylic mallets. Composer Alex North requested these bottles for his main title music of the movie, Under the Volcano (1984).

Brass Pipe Gamelan

This type of tubaphone, coined "brass pipe gamelan" by Emil Richards, was made by the musician himself in the late 1960s. The first version he made of this instrument was purposely microtonal, as Emil was intrigued by this different tuning system, which was not being explored much by percussionists at the time. He then made a chromatic set (this one), as the instrument could then mesh with the tuning of the traditional Western orchestra, but still have a gamelan-type sound. The range is three octaves, from C4-C7. One of the main reasons for its characteristic sound is its multitude of varying overtones.
The brass pipe gamelan made it into many film soundtracks (such as The Weather Man and a number of scores by Pete Rugolo), as composers would call Emil and describe the setting of the movie, and he would suggest using the instrument if appropriate, especially in Indonesian and other South Pacific- style films. Emil usually played the brass pipe gamelan with glock or hard vibe mallets.

Bulb Horns

The bulb horns were acquired by Emil Richards starting in the 1960’s. Because they have a two octave range (C4-C6) and are in the chromatic scale, they can play melodies like other instruments, lending themselves to more comical and cartoon use. Emil first used them as a full chromatic set for composer David Raksin; composer Lalo Schifrin also wrote for them as well. In the earlier years of use in the studio, sometimes two percussionists were put on the instrument, enabling the performance of faster passages. Emil also has the bulb horns which are tuned to the pitches needed (A, B, C, and D) for Gershwin’s score, An American in Paris. The horns are supposed to emulate taxi horns, and have been used in various performances of the music from this piece.

Bulbul Tarang/ “Keyboard String Harp”

This Bulbul Tarang was bought by Emil Richards in Bombay, India in 1972 while on his honeymoon. Emil used the Bulbul Tarang on numerous soundtracks and other recordings, and was introduced to it after using Ravi Shankar’s when recording the film, Charly, in 1968. Similar to the Autoharp, a chord can be selected when a key is depressed, and the strings are often strummed with a pick.

Chromatic Cowbells

Emil Richards found a maker who built a set of cowbells with an extra range. The chromatic cowbells (which are 2 ½ octaves, F4-C7) enable the percussionist to play a melody on them because they are tuned like other western orchestral instruments. They are often played with a hard glockenspiel mallet or hard or soft vibraphone mallet.
Emil’s chromatic cowbells were used in the film Robots, older Disney cartoons from the 1960's, and in the Disney television series, Timon and Pumbaa and Mickey Mouseworks.


Emil Richards’ cimbalom was made by Schunda in the 1800’s but he acquired it in 1961, when an unknown individual called and asked if he wanted to buy it, as it had belonged to his late father. He used his cimbalom in countless film scores by Michael Giacchino and a number of other composers. A few examples include Dr. Zhivago, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, and is very much featured in the Lalo Schifrin's Mission Impossible score. Often, the writing for cimbalom in films was quite percussive, but Emil used a number of different beaters (wood only, or wrapped with string or yarn) to achieve different timbres on the instrument. Its range spans four octaves, E2-E6, with an additional lower D2 string.

Death knell

A death knell was traditionally the bell sound used to announce a death in certain cultures. Emil Richards bought it from percussionist Chet Ricord's estate after he passed away in the 1980's. The bar is 4 feet tall, and internally, six different resonators which snake around help give the death knell its characteristic eerie sound. This death knell has been heard on soundtracks such as Spiderman 2, Polar Express, Ratatouille, Beauty and the Beast, Robots, Sky High, and Edward Scissorhands.

Dharma bells

These Dharma bells were collected from antique shops by Emil Richards starting in the 1960’s. They are microtonal (but in general, chromatic) and have a range of 2 ½ octaves, from F3-C6. According to Emil, they came in sets of 3, 5, and occasionally 7; however, at one point Emil found set of 9. He took the Dharma bells and laid them out in rows so they could be played more easily; then once he had enough, he mounted them vertically in a chromatic arrangement. They can be played with soft mallets or the back ends of drumsticks. Emil used them in scores often by sliding the sticks across them to give a glissando effect, or hitting them individually to create ringing tones. The Dharma bells were used on the music for the show Daktari, whose soundtrack was composed by jazz drummer Shelly Manne. They were also on the Kung Fu and Knight Rider television series, in the films Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Karate Kid, and Jurassic Park, and used in many soundtracks by Lalo Schifrin.

Djun Djuns

Emil used djun djuns in recording Spiderman 2, Star Trek Enterprise, Jules Verne Adventures, Cold Mountain, Without a Paddle, and Lost.


Emil Richards used his chromatic, three-octave (C3-C6 range) dulcimer in many soundtracks, especially in those with eastern Indian or American Country themes. In the studio, Emil used mallets made of wood that had a curve in which to place the fingers, sometimes wrapping cotton or silk string around the beating end to soften the sound.


The Flapamba consists of tuned wooden bars pinched on one side (over the nodal point), and mounted over resonator boxes. Sliding the bars slightly forward or backward affects their tuning. Unlike marimba or xylophone however, the sound is not as focused tonally, as it is a bit more percussive (closer to tuned log drums). Part of what makes the flapamba’s characteristic sound is the tuning; for instance, the resonators are not tuned to the bars (like they are in marimba). Emil Richards bought his original flapamba from Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood in the late 60's or early 70's. The staff at the store pushed heavily on him to buy it, as they told him that they were getting out of the percussion rental business since Emil was dominating most of the work in town. Emil couldn't find any info on the history or maker of the flapamba when he purchased it, but soon thereafter started using it on recording sessions, as the chromatic layout of the instrument made it an easy transition from other keyboard mallet instruments. He used the softest mallets possible or the meat of the fingers to get a warm, resonant, wooden sound. This original flapamba had a range from middle C, up two full octaves.
In the 2000’s, Emil decided that he’d like the flapamba to have an additional lower range, so specialty mallet craftsman Chris Banta made new bars spanning F2 (the octave + 5th below middle C) to middle C (otherwise known as C4), and called this the “bass flapamba”. He also replaced the bars on the original set to maintain continuity of sound between both sets, and changed the finish to a blonde color from the original set’s brown. Both sets combined have a range from F2-C6. This flapamba has been heard on countless soundtracks such as the television shows Lost, Daktari, and Kung Fu, and in films including Charlotte's Web, My Super X Girlfriend, An Unaccompanied Minor, and Anchorman.

Giant Flexatone

Emil bought his Giant Flexatone in the 1970’s. Similarly to the musical saw, bending the Giant Flexatone makes the pitch lower, and wobbling it creates vibrato; it also can be bowed or struck. The approximate range of it spans C5-C7. Emil used it in a number of comedic and mysterious soundtracks, including The X-Files, Bewitched, and Get Smart television shows. Film examples include Beauty and the Beast and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Giant Mbira/Array Mbira

Emil bought his giant mbira/giant thumb piano from Array Instruments in San Diego in the 1980’s. He used it on many film soundtracks, such as Rataouille, Michael Kamen’s Die Hard, and scores with an African flavor. This thumb piano is 4 chromatic octaves, and each tine sounds multiple octaves of that note when plucked. Emil tended to play it with picks rather than fingers; though he occasionally used harder metal picks, he actually preferred the sound of felt picks, which gave a warmer sound. In general, the music written for it tended to be sustained sounds, slow melodic passages, and double stops.

Glass Marimba

Emil Richards used his glass marimba on numerous recordings, including Polar Express, Meet the Robinsons, Troy, and The Bourne Supremacy. He brought it to sessions to see if composers wanted to use it along with or in place of glockenspiel, often doubling the part in order to bring new sound and texture to the music. Its range is middle C (C4), up two octaves to C6.

Glock Tree

The glock tree is a percussion instrument used primarily for musical color. The glock tree is simply a mark tree composed of glockenspiel bars instead of small chimes. It is also arranged linearly like the mark tree. Starting in the 1970’s, Emil Richards took his incomplete sets of glockenspiels and strung the bars up in the closest chromatic arrangement possible. He coined the term “glock tree” (just as he coined the term “mark tree”). While sweeping the fingers through the glock tree is perhaps the most common method of playing, hitting the bars with a hard bell mallet makes a secondary clanking sound. The instrument was used in the score to the television series, Kung Fu, and numerous other soundtracks.

Gong drum

Emil Richards used this gong drum in countless recordings (such as Mission Impossible 3); he got it from the Remo drum company in the late 1990's, as he thought it would be a great addition to his eclectic collection because of its massive size (60" diameter), dramatic character, and extreme resonance. Sometimes, when planning the recording, composers would ask Emil about the biggest drum he had and request him to bring it to the session. In the studio, he produced various sounds out of the gong drum by using mallets made from rubber balls, taiko sticks, and even mallets with rattles implanted in them.

Jal Tarang

Emil Richards used his Jal Tarang on numerous recordings and soundtracks, such as Empire of the Sun. He had previously used Ravi Shankar’s Jal Tarang in the recording session for his movie, Charly, in 1968, so when visiting Bombay, India while on his honeymoon in 1972, Emil bought a set of his own. The range of his Jal Tarang spanned C6- F7. In addition to adding a new sound element to scores, Emil accentuated high tuned gongs with the much higher Jal Tarang. For performances, he usually used a small wooden dowel, as it was delicate enough to create a more sustained ringing sound, unlike a spoon or larger utensils which were too harsh.

Log Drums (tuned)

Emil Richards used his chromatically tuned log drums in numerous soundtracks such as Troy, Michael Clayton, The Lady in the Water, and Ice Age 2. These tuned log drums span one octave, C3-C4 (middle C). Emil got them in the late 1970's from a craftsman from New York who brought them to display at PASIC. The fact that they were chromatic was intriguing because melodies could be played on them like other instruments, and arranging them like a keyboard allowed immediate fluency in performance. During recording sessions, some composers would give Emil creative license to add them to the music if he heard a good place for them. In general, composers such as Lalo Schifrin, James Horner, and James Newton Howard were interested and active in “marrying” instruments together to create new textures; log drums were an interesting color available on the palette. Having a set available that was chromatic and in western tuning allowed them to be scored with other orchestral instruments.


Lujon consists of metal tongs suspended inside a box; under each is a resonator. Emil Richards used lujon in numerous soundtracks, for example in the series Daktari, and in the films Annie and Edward Scissorhands. This lujon has six different notes: Ab2, Bb2, D3, F3, G3, and A3; Emil often played them with a soft mallet. Although lujon was used in many types of films, it was notably used in underscoring chase scenes. Other composers who wrote for lujon include Jerry Goldsmith, Gerald Fried, Dave Grusin, and John Williams. Emil bought his lujon simultaneously with Shelly Manne from craftsman Bill Loughborough in the 1960’s.

Piano Guts
These piano guts were used on soundtracks such as Lost, Hide and Seek, Dawn of the Dead, and Day after Tomorrow.

Piccolo Boobams

Emil had in his collection what he dubbed, “piccolo boobams”, which were actually constructed from golf club covers, arranged as a chromatic scale and mounted to a board; he even used black and white golf club covers so they could look like the keyboard of a piano. They could be cut with scissors to achieve the necessary length to produce all the pitches needed. In this way, they are actually more like Boomwhackers (see pic and info on LAPR Emil Richards page.) For striking, Emil used glockenspiel mallets (like a xylophone mallet, but smaller) or hard yard mallets depending on the sound desired. The piccolo boobams were used in the soundtracks to a number of older cartoons.

Native American Toms

These Native American toms were used on soundtracks such as Dances With Wolves.

Piccolo Woodblocks

Emil Richards’ piccolo woodblocks are chromatically tuned in two octaves, from C6-C8. He bought them from Professional Drum Shop in the 1970’s, as the uniqueness of the instrument combined with the keyboard layout was appealing. This shared western tuning system enabled him to play the instrument along with other orchestral instruments. In the studio he often performed piccolo woodblocks on cartoon soundtracks such as Looney Tunes; composer Stephen James Taylor used the piccolo woodblocks in his Disney projects, such as in the Timon and Pumbaa television series; they were also used in the Kung Fu television series. Due to the diminutive size of these woodblocks, Emil often used small, hard mallets or even triangle beaters when playing them.

Pipe Gamelan

The Pipe Gamelan was built by an unknown person at 20th Century Fox Studios for use in the movie The King and I. Emil Richards bought the instrument from Fox Studios while on location in the 1990’s. The chromatic layout of the instrument was appealing, as Emil could have fluency on the instrument while being able to have a different sound from other keyboard percussion instruments. The three octave range (F4-F7) and western tuning also meant that composers could write for it to be played in an orchestra. As with many rough, “homemade” mallet instruments, the overtone series is inconsistent throughout the instrument, but gives it character. Emil usually played the Pipe Gamelan with glockenspiel or hard vibraphone mallets. The Pipe Gamelan was used films such as Robots and The Bourne Supremacy, and considerably in the television series Daktari.

Rub Rods

Rub rods are sounded by using the friction of gripping between the fingers and pushing down or up on the rods. They are modeled after the J.C. Deagan Company's "Aluminum Harps". The ranges for both sets of rub rods (one with square tubes and one with round rods) are one-octave and chromatic, from G6-G7. Emil acquired them in the 1970’s, when an aerospace industry worker from San Diego got in contact with him and came up to Los Angeles to show him these new instruments which he had fabricated. Although the craftsman had used powdered rosin on his fingers to create more friction on the rods, Emil decided to use bass bow rosin, as it was less messy and could be applied directly to the rods; Emil also wore gloves when playing, which helped produce the friction needed and avoid the stickiness of the rosin. Vibrato can be produced by shaking the hand above the rods after they have been sounded. Overall, the round rods were used more in recordings than the square tube type rub rods, as the round rods had more complicated overtones, while the square tubes produced a purer sound. The rub rods can be heard in countless soundtracks, such as Syriana, August Rush, American Dad, The Incredibles, Fracture, Bridge to Terabithia, Electra, Mission Impossible 3, Family Guy, Van Helsing, Constantine, Skeleton Key, The Greatest Game Ever Played, The Legend of Zorro, The Wild, Flightplan, Eight Below, and Poltergeist.

Satellite Drums

Satellite drums are usually played with a mallet or drumstick. Also known as “satellite cans”, satellite drums consist of a steel bar welded onto a hollow, shallow disc of metal. Hitting the bars create a loud, resonant metallic sound. Master metallic- percussion craftsman Pete Engelhart made a chromatic set of satellite drums for Emil in the late 1990’s at his request; Pete didn’t usually make chromatic sets of them up to that point. Knowing his talent for welding and enthusiasm for making percussion instruments, Emil would occasionally ask Pete to create more instruments. Emil wanted to have the satellite drums set up chromatically so he could have fluency on them, like other mallet keyboard instruments. Having a chromatic set (with a two octave range, C4-C6) allowed the playing of melodies similar to other instruments in the orchestra. In the studio, Emil would sometimes use satellite drums as a substitute for steel drums, as the sound is similar (but more percussive). While many composers were enthusiastic about using new and eclectic instruments in the percussion section, they used them more as a featured, novelty sound. However, composers such as Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Goldsmith were notable in their “marrying” of percussion instruments, and used the satellite cans in combination with other instruments to create new textures. The satellite drums were used in the film Robots, for example.

Sleigh Bells (tuned)

Emil Richards had a two-octave (F4-F6) set of chromatic sleigh bells which he acquired in the 1970's. He occasionally would call the Deagan instrument company to ask if they had any eclectic instruments which he didn't have, and found out about the set of chromatic sleigh bells. Naturally, the sleigh bells were used on numerous seasonal Christmas soundtracks and other recordings. They were useful in the studio, as the western tuning allowed them to mesh with the tuning of the traditional orchestra. However, Emil also used them in live performances, as he and other musicians would take different sleigh bell pitches around the neighborhood and play Christmas carols together with them. 

Soprano Vibraphone

The soprano vibraphone, which is much rarer than the standard F-F vibraphone, has a 3-octave range of C4 (middle C) -C7, but no true standard of this soprano instrument exists. Emil Richards acquired a Leedy soprano vibraphone in the 1980’s from craftsman and restorer Gilberto at Century Mallets in Chicago (run out of the old Deagan factory). Because of the smaller bars, harder vibraphone mallets are necessary to get more sound and tone from the instrument. They were used in numerous soundtracks and other recordings, including by composer Johnny Mandel. Occasionally, Emil found himself with a vibraphone part written higher than the standard range. To avoid calling this out in the session and potentially embarrassing the composer in front of everyone, Emil would quietly inform the composer of the issue but offer the solution of the soprano vibraphone. Before he had the soprano vibraphone, he used song bells as an extended range of the standard vibraphone; the song bells were similar in timbre, but soprano vibraphone was naturally the more ideal extension of the standard vibraphone.  

Stone Marimba

This stone marimba has bars which are wide like a typical wooden marimba, but are thinner and flat, which helps increase resonance. The bars are made of roof tile slate and Emil usually played them with soft mallets with a rubber core to bring out the tone. The range spans two octaves, from C3-C5. Emil used his stone marimba in numerous soundtracks, including the television series, Lost, and in the films Fat Albert, The Bourne Supremacy, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He bought his stone marimba in the 1990's from craftsman Jim Doble whom he met at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. 

Swiss Hand Bells

Emil acquired his hand bells in the late 1980’s via a contact at the Paiste cymbal company in Switzerland. They span a two-octave range (G4-G6). They were used in soundtracks such as Twice Upon Christmas and King of the Hill. When played in the studio, Emil would lay the hand bells out chromatically, on a soft cloth to lessen excess noise. Often, two or three percussionists would play small sections at a time, if possible. One way of utilizing them in soundtracks was to play the hand bells a minor second apart to create suspense. In addition, these hand bells were also rented for live performances. Shortly after receiving them, L.A. Percussion Rentals mounted the hand bells on a rack so they could be played more easily by a single person.

Taiko Drums

Emil Richards acquired the taiko drums in his instrument collection from a prop house in the 1980's. These daikos are made from barrels (as opposed to being cut from a single log). They have been used on countless soundtracks such as Spiderman 2, Enterprise, Chronicles of Riddick, King of the Hill, I Robot, The Incredibles, Blood Diamond, Flags of Our Fathers, Jules Verne Adventures, Mission Impossible 3, Lost, Without a Paddle, Empire of the Sun, Flinstones, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones films, Constantine, Gremlins, and Muppet’s Wizard of Oz.

Tube bells (Viscount Bells)

Tube bells, or viscount bells, are a type of tubaphone. They are similar to glockenspiel, but instead of metal bars, they consist of small, hollow, metal tubes. However, the tube bells tend to be more sparkly, loud, and brilliant in timbre and are usually played with hard glockenspiel mallets. They were used by Emil Richards on numerous soundtracks such as I (Heart) Huckabees, My Super X Girlfriend, Blood Diamond, Meet the Robinsons, Mission Impossible 3, and The Weather Man. He received them in the 1980’s from film composer Michael Kamen, who brought them back from a trip to England and had Emil use them in the studio. Other composers, such as Elmer Bernstein and David Raksin used the tube bells in their scores as well; the sheer brilliance of them made them a favorite substitute for glockenspiel, or combined with glockenspiel, for recording. Their range spans two octaves, C6-C8.


This instrument, dubbed "transceleste" by Emil Richards, is composed of hollow, brass tubes. It's tuned microtonally, in a 22-note Indian shruti scale. The bars have a long sustain, and glisses on the instrument especially create quite a dark, mystical feel.
This transceleste was used in films such as Night at the Museum, Airplane, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Flinstones, The Legend of Zorro, Independence Day, and Jurassic Park.


The tubolo is a named coined by Emil Richards for a chromatic percussion instrument actually named "Slapaphone." The slapaphone was made by eclectic instrument craftsman Jeff Fahringer, located in Pennsylvania. It consists of tubes that are open at the top, but closed at the bottom, and are hit with either paddles or hands. While it appears from the outside that the tubes are all the same length, they are stopped at different points inside (enabling them to be tuned to different pitches) and the stoppers are moveable for micro-tuning. Emil found out about the slapaphone and ordered them in the 1990s. He liked the sound, which was like boobams, and the idea of being able to combine both slapaphone and boobams together to create new textures. He also liked the standard keyboard layout, which made fluency on this instrument not an issue; Emil had three complete octaves of the slapaphone, spanning from F3-F6. It was used on numerous soundtracks such as Rataouille, American Dad, and various Disney cartoon shows.

Udu Drums

This set of four Udu drums were used by Emil Richards on numerous scores including the television series, Daktari, Lost, and Jag.  Played with fingers or cupped hands, composers liked the udus for their spooky or "boingy" sound that is created when striking the openings. Emil was interested in the udu drums after reading an article in the Percussive Arts Society magazine about a percussionist who visited and wrote about percussion in Africa.

Water Chimes

These water chimes from Emil Richards' Collection were used on The Addams Family, Airplane, Beauty and the Beast, The Blues Brothers, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Edward Scissorhands, Flinstones, Omega Man, The Illustrated Man, Collosus: The Forbin Project, Ghostbusters, and Kung Fu. The brass disks are dipped into the bin (via pedal), which is filled with water, creating a strange, ethereal timbre that bends downward.

Whale Drum

A whale drum is made from a hollow metal tank; tongue shapes are cut out on the dome on the top to produce various pitches. Emil Richards acquired his whale drum in the early 1980’s from a craftsman in Maine, Jim Doble. He subsequently used the whale drum on countless soundtracks, often to underscore mysterious scenes. The multiple, irregular overtones contribute to the instrument’s ominous sound and lack of distinct pitch. He often used soft mallets to achieve the desired timbre, and avoided playing hard, as it de-tuned the tongues. Composers usually would not write specific parts for the whale drum, but notate sections of improvisation within the score; although Emil’s whale drum had eight tongues, it was used more as a sound or timbre rather than as a pitched, melodic instrument. Some scores Emil used his whale drum on include the television series, Poseidon Adventure and Lost, and film Flags of Our Fathers.


Emil Richards bought his xylorimba in 1960, which was his first instrument (in his now renowned collection) after moving to Los Angeles the year before. He bought the xylorimba from a percussionist who was on-staff at Paramount Pictures but upon retirement; this instrument had been used in the vaudeville era, when musicians would play as a soloist, running up and down this very large, 5-octave instrument. The xylorimba’s prodigious size and range (C3-C8) allows for three musicians playing on it simultaneously with reasonable comfort. In the studio, Emil would sometimes enhance xylophone parts by playing the passages even higher on the xylorimba; because the instruments are similar in timbre, using xylorimba kept the continuity of sound. A few of numerous recordings Emil’s xylorimba can be heard on include the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, Jan and Dean, and Burny Mattinson.