One of the curses I've faced as a recording engineer is that the symphony of every day life drills itself through my skull. It can be quite distracting. People try to converse with you, and all you can focus on is the groovy rhythm coming from a rattly interior bit. Avant-garde musicians and composers have been attuned to the music life creates for many years. John Cage, for instance, wrote pieces that use big fans as an orchestral section. Cage's 4'33 would be the perfect cellphone ringtone, but until that's available, I'd settle for a piece penned by University of Maine music professor Philip Carlsen.
Inspired by Cage's work, professor Carlsen came up with "Car Life: a traffic jam session for automobile orchestra." There aren't too many traffic jams at the Framingham, ME campus where the performance occurred, but for a fleeting moment in time, you could close your eyes and imagine yourself in Manhattan. Initially, the idea was to arrange the automotive orchestra by the timbre of their horns and also incorporate warning buzzers and alarms, but it ended up as a more random affair. There was a "chorus" of Toyotas, however. Like many modern artistic endeavors, not everyone will get it. It's as much a cacophony as incidental music or musique concrete ever was, but we definitely appreciate Carlsen's goal of encouraging people to tune in to the sounds of the world as a type of music.
Click here to hear the symphony