Natura Morta: Making Electronic Music With Fruit
When you think of playing music using fruit, what comes to mind? At a push, probably banging two coconut shells together to sound like a horse galloping, or if you’re into Eastern classical music, then maybe a traditional Thai instrument made from the coconut shell. You see the pattern here? Coconuts. But there are other ways you can tease some sounds from fruit and it doesn’t always involve hitting them, or hollowing out a carrot.
Art collective Quiet Ensemble from Rome—whose previous experiments have included a concert performed by 12 birds in cages and a classical music concert which mixes Bach with bodily sounds—have discovered a way to make squelchy electronic music from the humble banana and its friends the apple, orange, lemon, kiwi, water melon, and pineapple in their piece Natura Morta.
With the help of Alexa Praga and programmer Marco Cinquegrana, the Dada-esque performance works by channeling the electrical energy contained within the fruit (who knew?) and using it to produce sounds. It may seem like the darkest, most malevolent form of witchcraft imaginable but it’s not. It’s science, as Quiet Ensemble explain on their website:
"Natura Morta” is a concert where the only instruments used are real fruits. We’ll only play the microvoltage/electric power contained within them. Each fruit has acid in it that produces electrical tension. Using a special technique, we can boost these frequencies making the inaudible audible, the sound of the vital energy of nature.
The individual fruits are raised on wooden platforms, standing on a transparent plexiglass plate lit from under. Each time a fruit plays, its base will lit [sic] up, staining the surrounding space, making it changeable and dinamic [sic]. Each platform is actually a midi controller with respective potentiometers which allow to modulate the sound wave’s single result and then working on some parameters such as volume, pitch or loops that make the show more accessible, creating rhythms and sounds of a live music concert. Each fruit produces different frequencies that will be accented with a large video projection visible behind the performers.
You can listen to the fruity sounds produced below, which sound a bit like dark techno-trance.
Images: Quiet Ensemble