Scrap Art Rocks: Bang a (Recycled) Gong, Get It On

A performance by eco-percussionists, ScrapArtsMusic.

With the price of scrap metal in the dumper, ScrapArtsMusic has turned piles from dumpsters into green music. The discarded metal, accordion parts, artillery shells, and other junked items salvaged from landfills are fashioned into more than 145 instruments. The environmentally-minded percussionists tap raw human energy for performances with reused materials crafted into wild innovative drums and other percussive sculptures. They've performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and at NHL games and are headed out on the road to a stage near you.There are bands with instruments played on vegetables, ice, and even bugs, which Treehugger has highlighted. This Canadian group from Vancouver has been linked to conceptual percussive performers like STOMP and Blue Man Group. Drummer Gregory Kozak joined forces with the theatrical Justine Murdy, both committed recyclers, to found the quintet, ScrapArtsMusic, which has been referred to as "electrifying music without electricity." Kozak performs with Spencer Cole, Chao Gao, Yue Gao, and Gregory Samek, calling their earth-friendly musical shows "Eco Power Percussion Presentations."

No Smelting Necessary

During the upcoming tour the act plays 85-minute sets including original compositions, such as: "Synthesoid Plasmatron," "Some Assembly Required," "Magnum Opus for Bowls & Plates," "Artillery Peace," and "Engine of the Future." Concert dates happen in St. Louis and Omaha and New England in February, the West Coast in March, and China in April.

Kozak has welded salvaged materials into unique shapes, forming shiny musical sculptures that produce an array of textured sounds during the ensemble's rhythmic performances. Some of his dozens of intriguing inventions include:

Whorlies: a bilge hose that emits a variety of pitches depending on spin speed and length; Annoy-a-phones--multi-tonal pieces from dishwasher parts, bagpipe reeds, and balloons; Noisemakers are made of artillery shells, chopped into church-bell like chimes, bike bells and spokes, and soda cans from venues.

Conundrum: a contraption of mobile drums including the Ziggurat drums, the band's signature instrument-a large drum-head with distinctive stepped aluminum shell;
Mini-Zig Traps set--a kit of scrap and spun metals; Hourglass drums--stainless items pivot into two drum-heads; Humunga drums--a low-pitched aluminum conga; B-52 drums--1952 steel oil cans; Junk-on-a-Stick--cymbal "trees" produced with assorted whatever.

Sigh-chordions--wind instruments of plumbing fixtures, pipes and hoses; Wooden Table Box Resonators--hollow, rolling sound amplifiers; Phonk: coils struck and tossed in the air; Alumo-springs and Thunder Sheets (flexible brass), and Delta--discarded rock cymbals (used for the blues). Some are tuned with a grinder and struck with paddles made of tossed out gym flooring.

Plankophone--a marimba from planks and railings of demolished buildings, monkey bars, and abandoned boats; the Mojo--a stringed instrument from a sailboard mast, bowls, and piano bass strings.

Music to your ears? 2010 may be the time to change our tune and face the music. What can we reuse rather than toss? What about my malfunctioning digital camera they tell me is as costly to fix as replace? Perhaps we should add repair and reinvent to the Reuse, Reduce and Recycle Rs.

More on musical recycling:
The Sound of the Earth is Music--To Some
Lost and Found Orchestra
Ice Orchestra Blows Hot and Cold

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