Recycled Percussion

For several years I’ve been collecting re-usable items based on their sound potential. Finally this July, I found the time to put them to good use and build a few small recycled percussion instruments, using keys and plastic bottle-caps.

This key-chime is the second one I built. I used three sizes of plastic jar caps as supports for the three stages of the chimes, separated by large wooden beads- so it spins! The first key-chime I built was over 20 years ago and the placement of the key is graduated according to the pitch of the key. It took a lot of time to pitch each of the 60 keys. For this new chime, I opted for a random placement of keys and I think the effect is also quite lovely.

For years, I’ve admired the hand-made percussion instruments built by Marcos China, from Brazil. I believe he is the developer of this idea of a water-fall effect using recycled bottle caps of different sizes. I think the sound is completely magical, so I built three sizes. The largest (featured in the video) is graduated, strung on a recycled lanyard from the Montreal International Jazz Festival. As well as keys and bottle-caps, I have trouble throwing-out festival lanyards collected on tour.

Drilling holes in plastic bottle-caps, tying with 2 mm diameter multi-coloured paracord. I used monofilament for suspending the keys but for the bottle-caps I wanted something easier to manipulate and a little less likely to get tangled. The nylon paracord is great, the colours are optional.