It’s likely that early music making evolved from objects found in everyday life, natural materials like rock, animal bones, and wood, but the creation of instruments has gotten much more complex since then. Of course, a folk tradition of homemade instruments has continued, with instruments ranging from the jug, to the spoons, to various stringed contraptions. In the 20th century, composers and musicians refined the idea that music can be made with a variety of objects. The groups listed below take this idea to the extreme; using materials most of us wouldn’t think could produce musical sounds, they make us think differently about the objects we see everyday.
- Bash the Trash: This group performs for kids and teaches them how to make musical instruments out of recycled materials.
- Blue Man Group: A phenomenon around the world, this performance art group creates instruments out of PVC pipes and boat antennae.
- Car Music Project: Founder Bill Milbrodt, with the help of various musical and mechanical experts, turned his 1982 Honda into a set of unique musical instruments, which include a bass made from the car’s gas tank, 55 percussion instruments, flutes made from tubes, a huge drum created from the trunk of the car, and an “air guitar” made from the car’s air cleaner.
- Scrap Arts Music: Scrap Arts Music is a Vancouver-based group that makes music with instruments made from scrap metal.
- Stomp: First started in the early 90’s in Brighton, England, the theatrical production Stomp has been popular ever since. Cast members perform intricate coordinated rhythms using objects such as garbage cans and lids, and matchboxes.
- The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra: Using only fresh vegetables, this Austrian musical group creates unique sonic experiences for its audiences, and ends their performances with free helpings of vegetable soup.