An orchestra of historic domestic appliances can be witnessed in the Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe. The composer Michael Petermann said he worked 8 years on this installation called “Blödes Orchester” (stupid orchestra):

Watching this short excerpt I must say that I miss some rhythmic complexity and the question is whether that is because of the musical limitations of the household instruments or because of a reluctance from the side of the composer. No doubt the idea to misuse daily life objects has already a long tradition. The Swiss composer Rolf Liebermann realized the “Symphonie Les Echanges” with 156 office machines for the world Expo 1964:

Here I can see the irony in letting the machines run in a military fashion, maybe even some early pre-computer-angst is expressed towards a life ruled by machines. I asume if domestic objects are played by humans, by musicians, there should be some more rhythmic complexity, what sequencer programmes call the humanize-effect. Have a look at this one, if you don’t know it yet:

(You can also watch this teaser for the upcoming film “sound of noise” with the same group of percussionists.) While the short film is funny and musically a bit more interesting than the before mentioned automated machines, the whole soundtrack is indeed edited and sampled to achieve the punch and precision of the playing. A lot of videos of sampled daily life sounds that have been later edited into a musical performance circulated on youtube and vimeo recently. One of my favourites is this one:

Other examples are some tracks by Diego Stocco, here he makes music from a tree:

But after listening to some examples of such sampled rhythmic renditions, they leave a stale feeling with me apart from the show-off-effect of: look what I can do musically with things you have never considered to be a music instrument. The most popular and the most straight-forward techno approach of such a kind is the Techno Jeep by Julian Smith:

Though this is a least honest in its intentions, it can get really bad when one starts to play melodies on the keyboard with the sounds that have been sampled. Look at this:

To recover from this, why not sample sounds from one of your favourite movies and arrange them along the score of a minimal composition like in this case Steve Reich’s clapping music:

To end my little tour through videos featuring sampled daily life sounds here is a real live performance by the ensemble “So Percussion” with domestic appliances (flower pots mostly, but also a bit of glockenspiel) composed by David Lang which is simple in its rhythmic content, only introduces a small number of instruments, yet creates a complex atmosphere, liveliness and magic that is not matched by one of the other above videos and performances, as far as I am concerned…

via music of sound