You play a what?

If you can't afford a violin or a piano, there are cheaper alternatives. And there are more expensive alternatives. People have turned a wide variety of non-musical items into musical instruments. Some may surprise you!

Gas Tanks

The Gas Tank Orchestra is an improvised orchestra using instrument improvised from discarded gas tanks. They have strings, reeds, horns, and percussion, all made from New Orleans automobile tanks.


You can make a guitar out of almost anything, if you want to badly enough. There was a story circulating just recently about a really nice guitar made from an IKEA tabletop. In South Africa, a ramkie is a homemade guitar fashioned from an oilcan.

Barbed-Wire Fence

Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor make music by drawing their violin bows across the varied types of fences in Australia. They are now constructing a special fence in Western Australia that will play music when the wind blows through it.

More alternative musical instruments, after the jump.



Along with the washboard and the jug, playing spoons is a traditional going way back, possibly as far back as the Stone Age, but at least to the Baroque period. Here's a short lesson on how to play spoons.


You've heard of cigar box guitars, but this cigar-box artist also made a banjo out of a hubcap! Scroll down the page to see the making of the banjo.

Pjotro, also known as the Man with the Musical Suit, is a fictional character created by Nokia for a viral campaign promoting their Nokia N91 music phone. At Pjotro's website, you'll find an application to simulate the music of the suit. But musical clothing is not fiction. You can construct your own "musical suit," piece by piece.

The Levis Musical Jean Jacket was developed by MIT engineers. It looks like a regular jean jacket, but comes with a keyboard, midi mixer, and speakers. The electronics weigh less than a pound, and can be removed for laundering. Levis also makes musical jeans, which have an iPod remote control and docking station in the pockets, and attached headphones. To complete your musical suit, Dada Code M Shoes have the technology to play music for you to exercise to.

Video Game Controllers

The Danish Commodore64 revival band Press Play On Tape wrote a program that allowed them to perform music on game controllers. They recorded the Amiga anthem Cannon Fodder using the controllers as instruments.

So when your two-year-old is banging on a metal pot with a spoon, look at the bright side: he may grow up to be a talented musician or maybe a musical instrument designer!

Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing

Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Kenmore's New Stand Mixer Might Whip the KitchenAid Classic

A KitchenAid stand mixer has long been a home baker's best friend. It out-mixes, -kneads, and -beats most of its competitors, all while looking gorgeous on a kitchen countertop. But in the Kenmore Ovation, the iconic stand mixer may have finally met its match. According to Reviewed, the Kenmore product rivals the KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart mixer in terms of performance and design.

The elements of the two stand mixers are basically the same: Both come with three standard attachments—a flat beater, a dough hook, and a wire whisk. The Ovation is heavier than a KitchenAid, which means it doesn't scoot across your counter when it's working dense bread dough. It also takes just as much time to prepare heavy and chunky doughs in an Ovation as it does in a KitchenAid.

Hand pouring milk into a stand mixer.

Kenmore's product also offers some special features that the KitchenAid doesn't have. Instead of struggling to pour ingredients down the side of the bowl while it sits beneath the mixer, you can add them through the Ovation's patented pour-in hole on top of the machine. And the Ovation's glass bowl comes with a 360-degree splash guard that keeps your kitchen and your clothes flour- and batter-free as you mix.

The Ovation does have a few drawbacks: The six-pound glass bowl is hard to move around, as is the 30-pound mixer itself if you ever want to relocate it. But if you're looking for a sturdier stand mixer option, you can purchase the Kenmore Ovation for $350 to $400. Or you can stick with the classics and finally take home that KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart mixer you've been dreaming of: It's currently on sale at Amazon for $240.

[h/t Reviewed]


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