The Orchestra of Recycled Instruments

This group not only plays music, but builds the instruments from scrap. That’s right, they make their ‘recycled’ instruments out of things like kitchen spatulas and cookie cutters. Their music, nonetheless, is wonderful to listen to.

The Orchestra of Recycled Instruments is from Paraguay, a majority of them so poor that they had to resort to creating their own instruments. However, their love for music was never hindered by their economic condition. The members of the orchestra are students at the “Sonidos De La Tierra,” which is an organization dedicated to running music workshops and schools in the lesser privileged areas of Paraguay. This is where these talented musicians learned the skill of recycled-instrument-music making. Some of them were so passionate about the art that they even quit their jobs as recyclers at a major dump site, in order to pursue their music full time.

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Students Take Up Boxing to Become Better Musicians

 The students of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y., learn more than just music. In groups, they are asked to attend classes of a highly different nature. Classes that test and train them physically, and teach them the basic skills of boxing.

While it’s perfectly understandable that a musician may enjoy a little physical exercise, fitness is not a priority for these students. They have taken up boxing to improve their music skills. It all started when their professor, James VanDenmark, took up the sport himself. The world renowned double bass soloist says the classes had a remarkable difference upon his skills on the instrument. He reports better bow control, more confidence, stamina and energy. Intrigued, VanDenmark began to send a few of his female students to learn boxing, along with some conditioning and strength building. When they displayed the same results, he made this a regular feature with all his students. He now sends them in groups to Rochester gym ROC Boxing & Fitness to learn boxing basics and practice strength training. The students, he says, are now able to produce a bigger and more focused sound from the big instrument.

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Turkish Doctors Use Islamic Music as Medicine

A group of doctors at the Memorial Hospital in Instanbul, Turkey, have started using traditional Islamic music as complementary treatment for various illnesses.

Using music as therapy might sound strange in an age where medicine is relying more and more on science and technology, but the benefits of musical treatments have been known for almost 1,000 years. The makam, a musical mode unique to traditional Arabic and Turkish music, was used in Islamic medicine as early as the 9th century, when philosopher al-Farabi cataloged the effects of different musical modes on the human body and mind. Makam defines the pitches, patterns and development of a certain musical piece and the different tone scales must be largely played by ear.

Doctors at Istanbul’s Memorial Hospital are convinced different makams have positive  psychological and physiological effects on their patients. Dr. Eroll Can discovered musical therapy while working at a hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria, where they used a tape recorder and headphones, but after he immigrated to Turkey in 1996, he started using live instruments and noticed the effects were even more significant. Now he, along with professor Bingur Sonmez and Mehmet Susam are masters of traditional instruments like the ney (Turkish flute), yayli tan bur (Ottoman violin) and the guitar.

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Tennessee Musician Creates 27-String Guitar

Keith Medley has been a master guitar builder for most of his adult life, and while he has created custom instruments for many famous musicians, his most impressive guitar is the one he made for himself.

If you’re missing a guitarist or two for your band, stop worrying, because the 27-string guitar Keith Medley invented has the power to make them obsolete. The only trick is learning how to play it. That’s in fact the biggest problem, White House-based Medley had to overcome, as well. “Building this guitar turned out to be the easy part,” Keith explains on his site. “The hard part has been learning to play it. Through two years of bittersweet struggle between myself and these 27 strings, I determined it would not defeat me but would play the music I heard in my heart.”

But why would anyone need a 27-string guitar, when most guitarist seem to do very well with just 12, or even 6? Keith says the music he hears in his head is more than can be played on six strings, so after many sketches and nights of contemplation, he came up with this unique 27-string instrument. He claims it’s like playing three instruments at the same time, but that apparently isn’t good enough since he’s now working on a guitar with 34 strings.

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Russian Band Plays Live Gigs Using iPhones and iPads as Instruments

Cooperative Style, a teenage rock band from Kazan, Russia, is the world’s first group to play a series of live concerts using only Apple iPads and iPhones as musical instruments.

Instead of using traditional instruments, the teenagers download apps for drums, keyboards and guitars and play their Apple gadgets on stage, through a downloaded mixing desk. They play covers and hits by rock legends like Nirvana, and say their audiences really like their original performances. Ruslan Halikov, the iPhone guitarist of Cooperative Style says it’s a lot harder to play a virtual guitar that it is a real one, not to mention rock and roll poses don’t look cool at all. Still, the public seems to like what they do.

While these guys may be the first to play Apple’s cash cows in live gigs, the iPhone and iPad have long been used to make music by amateur groups, and some of their performances are really very good. You can find loads of videos on YouTube.

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Designer Creates World’s First Rocking Piano

Chichi the rocking piano was designed by Sarah Davenport as a way of strengthening the relationship between the pianist and piano, and is unique in the world. Apparently, the rocking motion creates a perfect harmony that allows the piano player to completely get lost in the music, ignoring the world around. At least that’s how Sarah says it makes her feel, and she’s been playing piano since she was just three years old, so I guess we can take her word for it. At some events, pianists have been known to get so immersed in the music and the rocking that they kept playing for hours on end.

Chichi has been around for three years now, and after being featured in prestigious venues like the London Design Festival and The Nottingham Contemporay Art Gallery, Sarah decided it’s time to find it a proper home. She auctioned it off, at the end of January, and I’m sure it sold for a pretty hefty sum.

Ms. Davenport has already been approached by some of the biggest names in the music industry, to create more rocking pianos, each of which will be custom made, but she says there will never be another Chichi.

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Terje Isungset’s Ice Instruments Make Cool Music

Terje Isungset, one of the world’s most talented percussionists, creates ice music with instruments he carves out of pure glacier ice.

Born in the Norwegian village of Geilo, Isungset grew up surrounded by a family of musicians, and grew up to be one of the most innovative percussionists of our time, Over the years, he has created musical instruments out of natural materials like arctic birch, granite, slate, but the thing he is most passionate about is making ice music, a style that he pioneered through the creation of ice instruments.

Isungset first fell in love with ice music in the year 2000, when the commission for the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games asked him to compose and play in a frozen waterfall. He was already renown for creating musical instruments out of other primitive materials, but he had never worked with ice. He took it as a challenge and managed to compose a greatly appreciated minimalist composition with just whatever the river provided – ice, water, stone and some wood.

Terje Isungset describes the process of making ice music and ice instruments as hard work and a continuing learning process. Most of his tools are made of pure glacier ice, so clear you can see through meters of it. He just cuts the ice cubes with a knife and carves them into instruments. Most of his creations are percussion tools, but he has been known to make an ice guitar, an ice harp, a trumpet and even a fiddle.

While Terje Isungset’s ice music can’t exactly be referred to as radically new (considering man actually started making using with whatever materials nature provided him with), it’s definitely a breath of fresh air, in this modern age.

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Guitar Tornado Is Played by Robotic Fingers

Named “IF VI was IX: Roots and branches”, the guitar tornado is an impressive artistic and musical installation, created by German artist Trimpin.

While different types of guitars placed together in what looks like a still tornado is something worth checking out, there’s more to this musical tribute than meets the eye.  Yes, while it might seem impossible looking at it, the guitar tornado actually plays music. Among all the common guitars, there are some robotic ones that actually pluck the guitar strings, thus playing the tune visitors choose via a remote touchscreen.

The only downside of the guitar tornado’s robotic arms  is that they can only play one string at a time. So how does it replicate a whole song? By plucking a single string of multiple guitars in the installation. The amazing guitar tornado is an interactive tribute to the history of American music, and features various genres, from early acoustic folk music, to rock and punk.

Music lovers can check out the guitar tornado at the “Experience Music Project” , in Seattle.

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Star Wars Fan Builds Working Millennium Falcon Guitar

Using an electric guitar and a vintage Millennium Falcon toy, Travis S. managed to build a unique instrument shaped like Han Solo’s starship.

Having built guitars with his father, in high-school, this was a relatively easy task for Travis S., but the idea of building something that has never been done before appealed to him. An avid Star Wars fan, with a sizable collection of memorabilia, he decided to combine his love for the sci-fi franchise with his passion for guitars. It only took him a month, working on weekends, to complete the guitar, but he says he could have completed in under a week.

Since this is an electric guitar, using a plastic toy as the body doesn’t affect the way it sounds, but the artist had to add a maple block from the start to the end of the ship, to keep it from breaking under the tension of the strings.  The back of the Millennium Falcon guitar has been fitted with blue LED lights, powered by their own batteries.

Despite its futuristic look, the guitar was designed to play, and I can only imagine the reaction of the public when someone brings this baby on stage. If you think this is cool, just wait until you here what Travis S has planned next : a Lord of the Rings themed bass guitar. I can’t wait!

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Playable Guitar Made with Popsicle Sticks

Actually making a playable guitar is hard enough, but making it using just popsicle sticks, some glues and basic house tools seems nearly impossible. Still, someone managed to do it.

Instructables user busupholstery managed to leave everyone speechless when he uploaded photos of the guitar he made, using posicle sticks. He bought 4,000 of them, worth $900, and ended up using 2,000 to create his DIY masterpiece. Using his own Gremlin parlor size guitar as a pattern, he spent 240 hours gluing and cutting popsicle sticks, until his unusual guitar was completed.

The most amazing thing about this man’s achievement is that he managed to build a popsicle stick guitar, somewhere in Costa Rica, basically using just a handsaw, some clothespins, rubber bands and glue. Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t be able to make something like this with the latest power tools available.

And though it may not sound as good as the best guitars on the market, the popsicle stick guitar is playable. Before you even ask, it’s not for sale.

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The World’s Largest Violin Is Almost Complete

Twelve luthiers, from Markneukirchen, eastern Germany, are working around the clock, adding the final details to what could be the world’s largest violin.

Markneukirchen is already famous for the quality violins made there, but this extraordinary instrument will definitely get its name into the record books. The world’s largest violin will be 4.28 meters tall, 1.45 meters wide, and weigh over 100 kilograms. It’s an exceptional achievement, but there’s just one problem: who’s going to play this thing? Even Sultan Kosen, the world’s tallest man, will have a tough time handling this giant instrument, especially since he’s not a very talented violin player.

Photos by AFP via Xinhua

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Vienna Vegetable Orchestra – Playing with Food and Making Music

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra makes unique organic music, using instruments made from vegetables.

Pepper trumpets, leek violins, celery bongos, cucumberphones, pumpkin drums – these are just a handful of instruments used by the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra to entertain audiences everywhere, with their organic music. This one-of-a-kind music group was born when its current members were students. At first they started playing vegetable instruments, as a joke, but quickly realized they might be on to something, and took their work more seriously.

The dozen members of the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra carve their instruments themselves, using whatever vegetables are available, at the location of their performance. After 12 years of making vegetable music, the group has learned what type of vegetables sound better in every country, judging by a range of factors, such as temperature and water content.

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra needs 70 kilograms of fresh vegetables for every concert, and three hours to carve the instruments they use. But their music wouldn’t exist without modern technological equipment, like amplifiers or sophisticated microphones. Combined with the squeaking of cucumbers, crackling of cabbage leaves and banging of aubergines, they create a hypnotic type of music, described as something between techno music and whale songs.

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Mammy Rock – The Granny DJ

69-year-old Ruth Flowers is a living example that age shouldn’t get in the way of things you’re passionate about. Like Bette Calman, the Yoga super-granny, Ruth does extraordinary things, for her age.

Known as “Mammy Rock“, around the European club scene, Ruth Flowers is probably the oldest professional DJ in the world. The British granny wears bling-bling headphones, trendy clothes and sports an electrifying hear-do as she works the turntables in popular clubs, in France.

Mammy Rock’s career began when she was 65. Her grandson was celebrating his birthday in a London nightclub, and asked Ruth to join him and his friends. There were a few problems with the bouncers, who didn’t feel right letting a senior citizen inside such an establishment, but as soon as she stepped in, Mammy Rock was bewitched by the lively atmosphere that made her feel so much younger.

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Squidolin – The Future of Violins?

Squidolin is a state of the art electric violin that not only looks amazing, but teaches you how to play it like a professional.

Created by designer Carlos R. Mendez, Squidolin is an electric violin with a very futuristic design that can save you thousands of dollars in violin lessons. Instead of paying a master to teach how to play the violin, you just connect Squidolin to a TV set and it will take you through a series of lessons that will have you playing the violin like a professional, in no time.

Connected to an amplifier, Squidolin sounds just like any other quality electric violin.

via Carlos Mendez

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Russians Invent the Mobile Drum Set

It’s not exactly a music industry breakthrough, but it does show Russian music fans can be very resourceful when they need to.

I’ve seen quite a few ingenious motorcycle sidecars, but a full drum set? Sounds a bit silly, but if you’re looking to draw some attention to yourself, there’s no better way than banging on drums while a friend drives the bike through the city streets. Actually, this sounds like a good way to get noticed by record companies as well.

via English Russia

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