Found objects are sometimes used in music, often to add unusual percussive elements to a work. Their use in such contexts is as old as music itself, as the original invention of musical instruments almost certainly developed from the sounds of natural objects rather than from any specifically designed instruments.
The use of found objects in modern classical music is often connected to experiments in indeterminacy and aleatoric music by such composers as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, although it has reached its ascendancy in those areas of popular music as well, such as the ambient works of Brian Eno. In Eno's influential work, found objects are credited on many tracks.The ambient music movement which followed Eno's lead has also made use of such sounds, with notable exponents being performers such as Future Sound of London and Autechre, and natural sounds have also been incorporated into many pieces of new-age music. Also other builders like Yuri Landman, Harry Partch (for example his famous cloud chamber bowl instrument), Pierre Bastien, Iner Souster often incorporate found material in their works.
Einstürzende Neubauten became known for incorporating a wide range of found objects in their percussion gear. A more recent example of found objects being used as percussion instruments is Shawn "Clown" Crahan from the nu metal band Slipknot, who beats a beer keg with a baseball bat to the beat of the song. The Dodos also played a garbage bin as a part of their percussion gear. Wall of Voodoo drummer Joe Nanini would commonly use pots and pans instead of conventional drums. Many street drummers perform with empty plastic baskets.
The band Neptune uses VCR-casings, scrap metal and all kinds of other found objects to create experimental musical instruments.
Found objects have occasionally been featured in very well known pop songs: "You Still Believe In Me" from the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds features bicycle bells and horns as part of the orchestral arrangements.
The use of found objects in music takes one of two general forms: either objects are deliberately recorded, with their sound used directly or in processed form, or previous recordings are sampled for use as part of a work (the latter often being referred to simply as "found sound" or "sampling"). With the improvement and easy accessibility of sampling technology since the 1980s, this second method has flourished and is a major component of much modern popular music, particularly in such genres as hip hop.
A drum kit – also called a drum set, trap set or simply drums – is a collection of drums, cymbals and other percussion instruments, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell. In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments. Also, both hybrid and entirely electronic kits are used.
A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.
A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or struck against another similar instrument. Excluding zoomusicological instruments and the human voice, the percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments.
Ambient music is a genre of music that emphasizes tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. A form of instrumental music, it may lack net composition, beat, or structured melody. It uses textural layers of sound which can reward both passive and active listening and encourage a sense of calm or contemplation. The genre is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual", or "unobtrusive" quality. Nature soundscapes may be included, and the sounds of acoustic instruments such as the piano, strings and flute may be emulated through a synthesizer.
Harry Partch was an American composer, music theorist, and creator of musical instruments. He composed using scales of unequal intervals in just intonation, and was one of the first 20th-century composers in the West to work systematically with microtonal scales. He built custom-made instruments in these tunings on which to play his compositions, and described his theory and practice in his book Genesis of a Music (1947).
Lou Silver Harrison was an American composer. He was a student of Henry Cowell, and Arnold Schoenberg. He worked with noted Javanese Gamelan musician K. P. H. Notoprojo.
A metallophone is any musical instrument in which the sound-producing body is a piece of metal, consisting of tuned metal bars, tubes, rods, bowls, or plates. Most frequently the metal body is struck to produce sound, usually with a mallet, but may also be activated by friction, keyboard action, or other means.
Dark ambient is a genre of post-industrial music that features an ominous, dark droning and often gloomy, monumental or catacombal atmosphere, partially with discordant overtones. It shows similarities toward ambient music, a genre that has been cited as a main influence by many dark ambient artists, both conceptually and compositionally. Although mostly electronically generated, dark ambient also includes the sampling of hand-played instruments and semi-acoustic recording procedures, and is strongly related to ritual industrial music.
The boobam is a percussion instrument of the membranophone family consisting of an array of tubes with membranes stretched on one end, the other end open. The tuning depends partly on the tension on the membrane and partly on the length of the tube.
In music, a breakdown is part of a song in which various instruments have solo parts (breaks). This may take the form of all instruments playing the verse together, and then several or all instruments individually repeating the verse as solo parts.
Newband is a contemporary music ensemble devoted to the performance of microtonal music. The group was founded in 1977 by musicians Stefani Starin and Dean Drummond. As a youth, Drummond performed with maverick composer Harry Partch in a unique ensemble of microtonal instruments that Partch designed and built himself; Drummond performed in the premieres of Partch’s Daphne of the Dunes, And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma, and Delusion of the Fury, as well as on both Partch Columbia Masterworks recordings made during the late 1960s.
An experimental musical instrument is a musical instrument that modifies or extends an existing instrument or class of instruments, or defines or creates a new class of instrument. Some are created through simple modifications, such as cracked drum cymbals or metal objects inserted between piano strings in a prepared piano. Some experimental instruments are created from household items like a homemade mute for brass instruments such as bathtub plugs. Other experimental instruments are created from electronic spare parts, or by mixing acoustic instruments with electric components.
Dean Drummond was an American composer, arranger, conductor and musician. His music featured microtonality, electronics, and a variety of percussion. He invented a 31-tone instrument called the zoomoozophone in 1978. From 1990 to his death he was the conservator of the Harry Partch instrumentarium.
In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sounds, or entire bars of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations.
Bart Hopkin is a builder of experimental musical instruments and a writer and publisher on the subject. Hopkin runs the website windworld.com, which provides resources regarding unusual instruments.
The American composer Harry Partch (1901-1974) composed using scales of unequal intervals in just intonation, derived from the natural Harmonic series; these scales allowed for more tones of smaller intervals than in the standard Western tuning, which uses twelve equal intervals. One of Partch's scales has 43 tones to the octave. To play this music, he built many unique instruments, with names such as the Chromelodeon, the Quadrangularis Reversum, and the Zymo-Xyl.
Experimental pop is pop music that cannot be categorized within traditional musical boundaries or which attempts to push elements of existing popular forms into new areas. It may incorporate experimental techniques such as musique concrète, aleatoric music, or eclecticism into pop contexts. Often, the compositional process involves the use of electronic production effects to manipulate sounds and arrangements, and the composer may draw the listener's attention specifically with both timbre and tonality, though not always simultaneously.
In music production, the recording studio is often treated as a musical instrument when it plays a significant role in the composition of music. Sometimes called "playing the studio", the approach is typically embodied by artists or producers who favor the creative use of studio technology in completing musical recordings, as opposed to simply capturing live performances in studio. Techniques include the incorporation of non-musical sounds, overdubbing, tape edits, sound synthesis, audio signal processing, and combining segmented performances (takes) into a unified whole.
Martin J. Junker: Buchhaltung – Percussion octet with books. Norsk Musikforlag, Oslo 2011