Musicians Craft Instruments from Outdated Computer Parts


An Illinois music group turns old tech into new musical instruments, keeping the parts out of the landfill

Sara Roncero-Menendez
  • 21 july 2014

Musical instruments are not only precious and fragile objects that require prolonged and professional upkeep, but they are also very expensive. In many parts of the world, students and professionals alike cannot afford to make music because of the high cost of equipment. Instead, they make their own versions of instruments out of whatever they can, even what we would consider garbage. A group in Illinois is taking that idea to the next level with our new generation of garbage: old technology.

The Electric Waste Orchestra at Makerspace Urbana, located in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, takes outdated technology and turns them into pieces of fully functioning musical equipment. One guitar, shown in the video above, is comprised of an old keyboard number pad, six hard-drives, Arduino hardware and some software, all of which will not decay into toxic waste. They have other musical hardware in the works, including a Wiimote, and yes, they can all create beautiful music.

The electric orchestra is a clever way to bring new life to these old technologies, which can be tricky to dispose off ecologically. As member of the orchestra, Colten Jackson tells Cool Hunting:

You can’t throw them in with the paper and plastic recycling, you know? It’s even true of regular users; it’s easy to hoard outdated electronics, thinking something might come in handy or be valuable down the road. There’s also the issue of how difficult it still is to recycle or throw away electronics; e-waste, for example, is often exported to developing countries under the guise of ‘second-hand,’ only to become a pollution problem for somebody else.

The issue of properly disposing of out unwanted technology stems around education — most people don’t know what to do when their old computer or phone once their done with them. While there are places where they can be properly recycled, they may not always be accessible. It’s nice to see people taking these old gadgets out of the dumpsters and onto the stage to bring others joy once more.

Electric Waste Orchestra

[h/t] Cool Hunting


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