Read the full story at Equal Times.
Through the waste at a landfill site in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Asunción, Paraguay, hundreds of children walk with musical instruments, small and large, on their backs. The black cases do not hide a Stradivarius or a cello made from precious woods, but rather violins, guitars, flutes, saxophones and even a double bass made from coins, bits of pipe, plastic, tin cans and the remains of donated instruments.
Their proud owners are members of the Paraguay Recycled Instruments Orchestra, a group of children and young people that grew up in Cateura, a neighbourhood looked down on for its poverty and its closeness to the Asunción municipal dump.
Read the full story at Fast Company.
With very few exceptions, guitars—even electric guitars—are made of wood. From a sustainability point of view, this is bad, because they’re usually slow-growing hardwoods and sometimes exotic woods. In an acoustic guitar, where the music is generated and shaped by the vibrations of the soundboard, the kind of wood used can dramatically change the guitar’s tone. The preferred material is old-growth wood.
The El Capitan, from Blackbird guitars, looks as good as a wooden guitar, but is made from something far more sustainable—flax linen fibers mixed with resin gathered from industrial waste. The material is called Ekoa and in many ways, it’s better than wood.
Read the full story at Inside Illinois.
Ken Butler, a New York City-based artist and musician, is the featured performer at the Sonified Sustainability Festival on the University of Illinois campus. Butler makes hybrid musical instruments from all sorts of everyday objects. His creations have been exhibited in galleries and museums, and he also plays music on some of the instruments he makes.
The festival will also feature a waste sculpture that incorporates approximately 2,304 plastic bottles, which represents the number of bottles consumed in the US every 1.45 seconds. According to Ban The Bottle, the US consumes ~50 billion plastic bottles/year. The waste sculpture was constructed by students, overseen by my colleague Joy Scrogum, as part of a grant from the University of Illinois’ Student Sustainability Committee to the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.
Read the full story in Grist.
It’s hard to top the accomplishment of creating the greatest beat in the history of hip-hop, but goddammit, Pharrell is giving it a shot. The hip-hop mogul announced today at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos that he’s partnering with Al Gore to organize Live Earth: Road to Paris, a series of concerts that will take place across six continents over 24 hours on June 18. The goal? Getting one billion people to sign a petition stating that yes, they’d really like it if some semblance of constructive action were to take place at COP21.
Read the full story in Wired.
We tend to think of musical instruments in fixed terms: that’s a guitar, this is a saxophone, that’s a synthesizer. Colten Jackson, however, plays an instrument that’s hard to classify. The Illinois musician hacked together what he calls the Hard Rock Guitar out of e-waste: six obsolete hard drives, and an old keyboard number pad, powered by an Arduino board. At Jackson’s command, it emits a range of synthy, ambient tones. If he wants to change the notes or scales, he need only tinker with the software. “Instruments are this free-form art; they just have to make sound,” he says. “Whatever you start with, whether it’s garbage or e-waste, it lends itself to something.”
Call for Papers
4-5 October 2014
University of North Carolina at Asheville (USA)
Deadline for proposals: 14 May 2014
Ecomusicologies 2014: Dialogues
will bring together artists and scholars to stimulate discussion on music, culture, and the environment. The conference is part of the multi-day event series, “Ecomusics” (3-7 October 2014), which will include concerts, soundwalks, workshops, and outings (e.g., field trips to the Moog Factory, Black Mountain College, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park). Not only do the fall colors of October in the Appalachian Mountains make Asheville, North Carolina, an ideal place to be, but its history also makes it an ideal gathering spot for a conference on ecomusicology: it is where Bartok composed his Piano Concerto No. 3, where John Cage conducted happenings, and where Buckminster Fuller created his geodesic dome. If you would like to participate in the conference but would prefer not to travel for environmental or other reasons, you will have the option to participate as presenter or audience member via the Internet.
The conference theme, “Dialogues”, aims to foster common ground, where participants representing diverse backgrounds (academic, artistic, industry, non-profit, et al.) can learn about and exchange ideas on ecomusics. In addition to general ecomusicology topics, the conference committee encourages submissions that respond, but are not limited, to the following topic fields:
- Musical collaboration (in, for, or with the environment)
- Improvisation (human and non-human)
- The music industry
- The sound of “green”
- Acoustic ecology
- Ecopoetics and sound
- Race, class, gender
Scholars from any academic field are invited to submit proposals to present in a variety of formats, including:
- Panels (3 to 5 participants, 30-90 minutes),
- Papers (20 or 30 minutes),
- Posters (electronic or paper format), and
- Alternative formats (performance, film, installation, lecture demonstration, etc.).
An author may submit up to two proposals (on related or separate topics).