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From Trash to Musical Treasure

29th Oct 2014

The sounds of Blue Man Group and Stomp have been inspirational to many who have wanted to create their own instruments out of everyday items. While banging on pots and pans with a spoon is childish, creating “real” instruments out of items such as trash cans, coffee canisters, buckets, garden hoses, and water bottles takes the patience of an adult. The results are well worth the trouble. Creating your own instruments can be a way to showcase your creativity and musical prowess. Another benefit of creating your own instruments is that they can be made any way you like. This can make playing possible for those with disabilities that keep them from playing standard instruments.

Many drums can be made out of boxes. Cajon drums were originally repurposed from crates, drawers, and boxes. Boxes can also be used to create such percussion instruments as bongos and agogos. The simple act of tapping on the side or top of a cigar box with a stick or other object can produce a unique sound. Even this can be manipulated to create different tones and notes. Cans can be filled with small objects like beans or pebbles to create hand held instruments that are played by shaking.

Containers like glasses, bowls, and cans can produce different sounds when they are filled or when they are played with other objects. Metallic objects produce more of a ringing tone while glasses chime when struck. If you fill these objects with warm water their sounds will change drastically. Large water bottles, such as the ones used in office water coolers, can create sounds with a unique percussive quality.

PVC instrument

PVC pipe can be used to make sounds similar to that of a xylophone. Blue Man Group has taken the idea of a PVC pipe instrument to a whole new level. They demonstrate an advanced ability to manipulate the instruments, creating unique music for their audience. Copper piping can also be used to make xylophones. Copper pipe has even been used to make a glockenspiel.

Making your own instruments can heighten your experience of self expression. It can challenge you creatively, and even redefine what can be considered music. Music as an experience does not have to follow the boundaries of traditional, commercially produced instruments. With enough time and ingenuity great music can be made of household items.