The Music of Found Objects: Michael Pisaro’s “ricefall”

Not every piece of music requires years of training from its performers. Experimental composer Michael Pisaro’s “ricefall” doesn’t even require players to use a traditional instrument. Instead, the ensemble is equipped with handfuls of dry rice, which are dropped onto metal plates at different rates, according to the directions in the score. The result is a shifting cascade of sound.

When the International Contemporary Ensemble, otherwise known as ICE, visited DePauw University, they invited students in the school of music to join them in staging a performance of “ricefall.” This experience opened up ideas of what it means to make music together – and what even qualifies as music. Andrew Brown, who’s pursuing a degree in piano performance, was struck by the idea of using “found objects, where you don’t need to buy a $2,000 piano to make music. You can do it with everyday stuff.”

Ross Karre, both a video artist and the percussionist for ICE, created this video to capture the experience of the DePauw performance.


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