Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Make Some Joyful Noise

One great way to get out and play at the Museum is the JunkMusic PlayStation in The Children’s Garden, which recently underwent some fabulous updates. The original creation – a hands-on musical experience using recycled materials – was the work of renowned Junk Music artist Donald Knaack and children from Providence CityArts but needed to be refreshed and repaired after years of play.

The idea was to take discarded household materials or junk and repurpose them, with slight modifications, to be incorporated into our interactive sound sculpture. Donald Knaack consulted with exhibit designer Chris Sancomb on the upgrades and offered his musical expertise on how to select, hang and connect the pieces.

Chris’s goal was to keep it open-ended and add even more opportunities for exploration, the same philosophy that guided the development of Play Power. Variety was his primary criteria – both visually and in terms of the number of different sounds. He collected as many unique sounds as he could and most of the source materials came from a junkyard located within a mile of the Museum.So what’s there? A set of slap tubes with a rubber paddle, a bright orange car spring that makes a twanging noise, a metal tray transformed into a powerful gong, zigzagging racks and more. Plus the existing bicycle parts, plastic barrel, giant wooden spool, metal pipe chimes... My favorite addition: two propane tanks were halved and turned into four instruments – two colorful bells and two steel tongue drums that make the coolest sounds.

Chris says that he’s never made anything like this before – but he says that about pretty much everything he creates for the Museum!

Here's how we know it works: I watched as the 3-year-old percussionist shown in the photos and video below spent about half an hour fully exploring the JunkMusic station – climbing all over it, testing and comparing every sound, repositioning himself to get the best effect. It was incredible to watch an experimental musician at play!

Come jam with us and see JunkMusic in action. And leave us a comment to let us know which is your favorite new sound!

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