Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Let's ring in the new year! I've compiled some information about unusual musical instruments, with links that include audio or video.

First up, we have Chinese Bianzhong bells, which are hung in a wooden frame and struck with a mallet. A complete ceremonial set of 65 was discovered in a tomb dating back nearly 2,500 years. The original cast bronze set of bells was painstaking recreated so it could be played by modern musicians - most recently during a performance at Beihai Park in Beijing yesterday to pray for good fortune in the upcoming year.

Next, the Ice Music of Norwegian musician Terje Isungset, who says, "Ice is extremely beautiful on a visual and musical level...Although it is cold it gives out a warm sound....The quality of the ice and the ambient temperature determine the tonality of the music." Isungset custom-creates his own ice instruments for each concert and intends them to last only for the limited duration of the actual performance.

And lastly, the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. Founded in 1998, the VVO performs around the world using instruments of their own creation, including carrot and radish flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, cucumberphones, and celery root bongos (that is an eggplant clapper pictured). Vegetable parts left over after creating the instruments are made into a vegetable soup which is served to the audience after the concert!

If none of these suit you, choose among
  • Odd instruments, including wind harps, stalactite organs, and singing stones.

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