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.

Oilcan
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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
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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.

Spoons

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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.

Hubcaps
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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.

Clothing
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.
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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!

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March 22, 2007 - 4:33am
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