In the 80’s and 90’s, most synths seemed to have the preset “Waterphone” tucked away somewhere down the list, in the twilight zone between musical patches and sound f/x. It produced an eerie, slightly discomforting sound that seemed to be somewhat dissatisfied with the world as a whole.
Years went by, and numerous waterphone impressions that failed to be useful for anything else than a novelty spook for newcomers to the studio. I personally never considered the thought that the ubiquitous waterphone would be an actual instrument, I just sort of assumed that it would be some kind of invented sound effect with a name that somehow had stuck to the minds of synth patch designers.
And then, years later, I stumbled onto an actual demonstration of a waterphone. And yes, it is an instrument, and yes, it has found its way onto numerous suspense movie soundtracks.
I stand corrected.
I stand even more corrected now. According to Wikipedia, mr. Richard A. Waters is credited as the inventor of the Waterphone. A comment was left by a Richard Waters, pointing this out to me, so to recover some possible ill effects of my poor research, I offer a link to mr. Waters site here where numerous sound examples, as well as an introduction to the eerie but strangely addictive instrument can be found.
In all fairness, I will leave the video of the other waterphone example as well. There are differences in timbre and modulation between this and mr. Waters examples, but not being fluent in waterphonique, I will not stretch as far as calling it “a cheap imitation”. You be the judge.