Swords Into Chords

As I have mentioned here probably enough times to now be annoying, I am working on a new piece for Sarah Cahill’s “A Sweeter Music” project, for which she has commissioned 18 composers to write piano music on the subject of peace. My piece is for piano, voice, and electronics, where the piano serves as a real-time modulator for Sarah’s voice as she reads the following text:

すべての武器を楽器に
Subete no buki o gakki ni

which translates to

“Turn all your weapons into musical instruments”

It’s the ancient Japanese take on the swords-to-plowshares meme.

As I sat semi-randomly surfing while I mused on notions of transformations, material, musical and metaphorical thinking (both about my piece and dutifully pondering what to write for this column), I chanced on a cool webpage which encapsulates the notion of positive transformation, turning bad into good with a musical component.

The Simon Lee Recycled Guitar!

Clicking around at the Ethical Superstore, which is itself A Good Thing, I found Simon Lee Recycled Guitars, made from recycled plastics such as factory reject yogurt cartons with foil fragments, domestic bottles and containers, trimmings from industrial pipes, etc. So far, so cool. But then I found:

The Simon Lee Pirate Guitar!


It’s made from “sparkling fragments of crushed CDs … seized during a raid on illegal CD production facilities.” Now that’s truly turning weapons (of theft and infringement) into musical instruments. I can’t tell you how much I love this idea. I hope they are good guitars. Anyone ever given them a try?

More information about Simon Lee Recycled Guitars and the Pirate model here and here.

Wishing all of you all the best for the holidays, and and a hearty “Yoi otoshi wo” from your Tokyo Corresepondent. I am looking forward to meeting you again soon in 2009!

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