The Stupid Orchestra can currently be heard at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. This is not stupid at all, but quite sophisticated; it is not strings and trombones that make music, but laundry drums and carving knives, and razors set the rhythm.
But how does the interaction of almost 200 household appliances work? That’s a feat that even the guys from https://northvancouverappliancerepairs.ca have never imagined happening. How can mixers and razors be used specifically as instruments? “You can make a lot of sounds and timbres and tapestries with the orchestra.”
The conductor and composer Michael Petermann has always been interested in the technical side of music. When he composed for the Stupid Orchestra, he talked about the characteristics of the individual devices – and they are very different: Razors hit the G exactly, but can’t do much else and therefore indicate the beat.
The vacuum cleaner sings
Quite different are the vacuum cleaners, quasi the Stradivaris among the household appliances. He taught them how to sing, says Petermann and explains how: “You can imagine it as with a dimmer, so you can run vacuum cleaners fast or slow.” Up to one octave he pulls out of the device. But to find out, the musician had to try a lot.
For his bread slicers, blenders and coffee machines, he did not compose in a quiet room, but behind the mixing desk.
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Devices with face and character
Petermann had the idea for this extraordinary orchestra over a beer eight years ago, but it did not stop at the thought experiment: After a successful, four-year test phase, he went in search of potential ensemble members. He discovered them at flea markets and E-Bay, but not all of them were enough for the big stage.
“The devices all had a face and a character,” recalls Michael Petermann. “It had to look visually full of character and have a natural tonal character.” The devices are arranged like groups of instruments so that they can see the conductor. “The stage as an amphitheater with the steps is a quote to antiquity.”
“Sounds are also music”
Most of the devices correspond to the industrial design of the 1950s, but there are also real rarities, such as a fan from 1912. It happens that a certain nostalgia creeps in among the museum visitors. And the curator himself also mourns the beauty of the household appliances of the past: “The entire technical world has lost its visual charms,” he says. “Unless you’ve discovered that certain devices are designer devices that sometimes succeed or haven’t.”
But is there also a philosophy behind the Stupid Orchestra? Yes, says Petermann. For him, his exhibition project is much more than a gag: “Sounds are also music. Just as the fools in literature sometimes say interesting things, it can be said that a stupid ambience can sometimes provide new insights and so the supposed limitation is groundbreaking for new insights. Whether sounds can be music, I don’t need to answer anymore.”