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So Percussion, Playing Pipes Bought for A Song

Adam Sliwinski of So Percussion plays the homemade aluminum pipe instrument.
Jacki Lyden, NPR
Adam Sliwinski of So Percussion plays the homemade aluminum pipe instrument.

Adam Sliwinski may be a classically trained musician, but he enjoys breaking from tradition. Part of the Brooklyn-based ensemble So Percussion, he prefers to make his own instruments rather than play the typical snare drum or timpani.

He and his bandmates Lawson White and Jason Treuting find their materials at Home Depot and other sources not normally associated with the arts.

On a recent outing to scout for a new sound, they purchased a variety of aluminum pipes in order to create a sort of homemade xylophone.

Sliwinski trimmed the pipes while Treuting and White figured out how to tune them to a C-major scale. The result was a dainty sound not unlike the ringing of hand bells.

As graduate students at the Yale School of Music, the group memorized complicated percussion pieces, rehearsing them for hours together in a basement. In 1999 the guys decided to take their act on the road.

The trio has since collaborated with musicians such as David Lang, a founding composer of Bang On a Can, an experimental music collective in New York City.

Their forthcoming album, Amid the Noise is scheduled to be released in September on Cantaloupe Music.

NPR's Elaine Heinzman produced the audio for this story.

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Longtime listeners recognize Jacki Lyden's voice from her frequent work as a substitute host on NPR. As a journalist who has been with NPR since 1979, Lyden regards herself first and foremost as a storyteller and looks for the distinctive human voice in a huge range of national and international stories.
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