5 Weirdly Awesome Ways People Play Music
You don't always need traditional instruments to rock out 'til morning. Sometimes you just need to bang on a kettle with a spatula or rub sandpaper together into a microphone.
Though why not take it a step further and refurbish an old electrical appliance to construct a bass guitar? Are you even a musician if you haven't at least attempted it? Your pianos and harmonicas have been in the spotlight long enough; let some other things get their shot …
The Boston Typewriter Orchestra Are Not Your Common Office Bros
They're not on the clock, neither are they interested in this week's data report, nor do they care about making small talk by the water cooler. These folks would rather punk out if you can call it that. They are committed members of the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.
Yes, there is a band that exists made up entirely of people playing typewriters. Maybe they're a little stuck in the 1800s spiritually, but never would those years have been ready for this level of experimental performance.
The main players are Derrik Albertelli, Christopher Keene, Brendan Quigley, Alex Holman, and Jay O'Grady, who are, in their own words, "a collective endeavor which engages in rhythmic typewriter manipulation combined with elements of performance, comedy, and satire." This band of mainly middle-aged men all have day jobs, according to the Hindustan Times. One is a librarian, another a biologist, one software engineer, a banker, and a crossword constructor, each with a passion for typing away, some with previous music experience. They've been performing for 16 years and are self-proclaimed "office drones" harping on the mundaneness of the cubicle, inspired by the humdrum of office life.
How did the band begin? A previous player in the group, Tim Devin, was given a typewriter from his partner at a bar one night and began to mimic the music playing in the background. This obnoxious behavior upset the staff, but in a moment of improvisation, Devin reassured them he was a member of the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. He resumed in making the idea his truth and got a couple of office bros together to start the jam.
The band now has a track record of having played at food venues, museums, drive-in theaters, and private dinner parties. And trust me, it's hard to pull off a click and a clack and call it music-- I've tried on my laptop ... it does not work.
Mileece Gives A Voice To Plants Using Computers
Mileece is a self-described "sonic artist, immersive ecology designer, and clean energy ambassador" who specializes in a type of music she refers to as Organica, a type of "organic electronic music." Did you just hear the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world turn their heads a full 180 and in the most harmonious robotic voice reply, "Ooo! Organic music!!"... Just me?
Mileece was drawn to this work as someone who grew up amongst both city and wildlife environments. She noticed the difficulty of connecting with nature in a city due to its lack of availability. This concern fueled her to enhance the experience one could have with plants- something more meaningful she deems biocommunication. After learning the basics of sound design in her late teens, she coded her way through creating a mouthpiece for plants, so to speak. With her unique software system, her green leafy friends now have a voice.
How does it work? The music happens with a series of algorithms produced from a computer, though drawn from plants. By recreating real-time interactive installations that mimic a natural environment and using a software system she created, Mileece is able to extract sound waves from leaves. Aka, she'd be the coolest bio teacher ever.
Her work has been featured in the MOMA and other famous art spaces around the world. She is also creating bio-domes through her project, Children of Wild, to amplify plant and human connection for children. All I'm alluding to is that she might actually be Mother Earth.
This Marble Machine Proves That Marbles Are Not Just For Losing
Get ready for some sick beats that sound part clubbing night, part Edward Scissorhands-esque. What are the masterminds behind the noise? Only 2,000 marbles incorporated into a wood machine built by 38-year-old Swedish composer Martin Molin, who could mistakenly be taken for a Weasley twin meets Tim Burton. Over the course of a year, the machine was constructed and tested multiple times before achieving the colossal piece of engineering it became:
The invention is powered by a manual crank, like that of a child's music box, only a tad larger. To ensure that marbles can pass through (creating a circuit effect,) Molin measured every piece of wood with a perfect hole. The stars of the show course through the box, hitting metal pieces, wheels, and even built-in instruments Molin added, like a kick drum.
What inspired this mercilessly talented demi-god to bless us with this design? Though best known for his role in the Swedish music group Wintergatan (Swedish for milky way), Molin is quite the mad scientist. Molin explains that his childhood interest in Lego technique never really went away. Rather, it manifested into a passion for music and engineering. This spurred him to make the marble machine (receiving over 10 million views in the first three days.) Call him an engineering sensation, and you'd be right. Call him a grown-up child who is attached to his Lego, but in the best of ways, and you wouldn't be wrong either.
Ei Wada's "Factory Fan Bass" Will Make You Want To Play Your Household Appliances
There is an alternative way of dealing with nearly broken house appliances, and it's not just throwing them into the void, aka destroying your wall. Ei Wada is a Japanese musician who helped create what he deems the "factory fan bass," with the help of Teruo Takahashi and Nicos Orchest-Lab. Watch as Wada transforms this fan into a recognizable instrument:
Ei Wada is a part of many projects, including his most recent, ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS!, a group specializing in using electrical appliances as a starting point for their instrumental creations. In making electromagnetic instruments, they revive old appliances and give them new life. This is the heart of his mission- bringing back unused items to make music.
On a more serious note, this "bass" is certainly the sound you'd hear as your doom comes crawling toward you. Or, as you crawl toward it with your blouse blowing in the wind from the fan, making you less intimidating. But none the less you probably stuck your fingers in the moving panels because you couldn't resist the thrill.
AquaSonic Performs Underwater Even Though It's Creepy AF
If you haven't heard what music sounds like underwater, AquaSonic is a group composed of five musicians completely submerged while they play -and I repeat- some of the most haunting sounds you'll ever hear. (Apart from singing whales, of course ... )
Based in Denmark, this group is lead by artistic director, composer, and performer Laila Skovmand and innovative director and musician, Robert Karlsson. Their instruments have been specially fabricated to suit wet conditions. Take, for example, the rotacorda, a device constructed for them with the help of MIT inventor Andy Cavatorta, derived from its cousin instrument whose name sounds like something SpongeBob made up, the hurdy-gurdy. Both work with a wheel that places pressure on strings maneuvered with a crank, working and sounding like that of a violin. Hence the name AquaSonic deemed this creation the rota (wheel) and corta (string).
The most valuable instrument is the voice, said every music teacher ever, but did they say to make it sinister while you're at it? Aquasonic sure has. Despite the ingenuity of their work, which goes unsaid (I mean, they're playing music underwater? That's plenty more than most of us will ever achieve instrumentally), their work is still plain creepy. By keeping their mouths wide open like dementors ready to slurp you away, they've managed to come up with a means of singing underwater. And to add a spine-chilling effect, their eyes aren't closed.
The ominous soundscape-like performance gives us a hint of what a deranged mermaid ceremony might be like, but for some reason, they're in human clothes.
For more of Oona's sarcasm, visit her humor site, www.oonaoffthecuff.com.