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Create Your Own Instruments

Percussion groups like the Blue Man Group, Stomp!, and So Percussion have blurred the lines between traditional and unconventional sounds used in music; however, composers like John Cage have experimented with unconventional instruments for decades. Below are some examples of unconventional sounds using prepared pianos and an amplified cactus.


See if you can create your own instrument out of unconventional materials! Or, perhaps you can prepare your own instrument similar to how John Cage prepared his piano!

Take a look at some resources for building your own contact microphones with students to record cacti or other objects

Upload an MP3 recording of your new or prepared instrument to our Soundcloud Group and we will include it on this site!
Send us your sounds

Post a link to your own recording in the comments below!

Video record yourself performing your new or prepared instrument and post a link to your video (using Youtube or Vimeo) in the comments below!

Post a picture of your new, prepared, or unconventional instrument (using Flickr, or other service) or you can tweet @ASUMusicEd a picture or information on your instrument!

To assist in organizing your media, please include the phrase #whenismusic in the titles of your Sound Cloud or YouTube uploads and tweets.

Child of Tree examples:

For more information about Child of Tree, explore these following links:

These performances took place in 2012:

Attend a performance of Child of Tree as part of John Cage Concert 3 @ The ASU School of Music Thursday April 19 7:30PM
Attend a performance of Branches as part of the Nature, Sounds, Silences: John Cage Concert @ The Desert Botanical Garden Friday April 20 7:00PM


An example of a prepared piano:

Continue exploring our project: