How to Play Experimental Music

You may have heard musical groups such as Stomp or Blue Man Group? The secret to their unique sound, and obviously their success is the odd instruments that they play. For instance, Blue Man Group uses primarily PVC pipe arranged in complex "drum organs" and in simple strips, and the Tony Award winning Stomp uses common parts that one might find on a New York street. Other experimental bands might use long strings to bow, perfectly tuned drums, modified pianos, etc. Others might consider experimental music to be computer/techno type music such as Mannheim Steamroller. Whatever, experimental music is an easy, and cheap (if you want it to be) way to be involved in music.


  1. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 1
    Don't think. Just grab some old drumsticks and head to your garage. Don't have any drum sticks? Pencils, dowels, anything will work for now, but it is a good idea to pick up some cheap drumsticks at a local music store. In the garage, jam out. Figure out how different things sound. Just have fun, and change the beat around. Play with friends, get an awesome rhythm going. Note: your sticks will break, so don't use anything nice.
  2. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 2
    Start looking at things and thinking what weird things you could do to it that would make it sound cool. What if I attached snare drums to a piano? I'm serious, I bet it would sound awesome.
  3. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 3
    Go out and by a cheap violin bow and some rosin (its the dried tree sap stuff string players smear all over the bow hair) Try bowing stuff. Random stuff. Cymbals and stretched out wire work nicely.
  4. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 4
    While you are at the music store, you can pick up some guitar, violin, cello, bass strings. By different sizes and pitches and the stretch them out on a frame of wood. You may need to make a resonator box in order to hear anything. Also try adding hammers (not the kind you build a house with, the piano kind.) that strike the strings With a little work and improvisation, you can make some really, really awesome sounds. Also, while looking through the music supplies, look for new ideas, and ask the attendant if you don't know about some things. Music store employees always know what they are talking about.
  5. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 5
    Enter the electronic world of music. Experiment with sounds on the computer, and get/make a MIDI controller so you can trigger the sounds remotely. Get creative with Computer Music technology. You can by little acoustic drum triggers that they use for writing drum music, attach them to anything, and hook them up to a digital drum brain. Hook that up to your computer/MIDI sequencer, and you have yourself a cheap digital drum, that can play anything. Get even more creative, devise a device that turns on and off radios that are set to different static frequencies. That's sure to sound cool. Also, play with old guitar/bass amplifiers and old synthesizers. Research circuit bending on the Internet and with a little electronics knowledge you can modify synthesizers and other circuits to sound funkier than they already are. Do what ever floats your boat, just not on new, expensive stuff.
  6. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 6
    Now take all of your experimentation and combine it together to make sort of a super-junk-instrument of doom. Our band calls ours the Gehttolyn. Use mic stands, drum stands, wood scraps, etc. to make a sweet console. Here are some instrument ideas to start you off: multiple balloons stretched tightly over a coffee can, CDs make a good cowbell, speaker grilles, sheet metal, tile pieces, flower pots, soda bottles of all types, cans, PVC pipe is awesome, wood blocks can be really good sounding.
  7. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 7
    Add in real instruments if you like. But try playing them differently. Look at a guitar like you never have seen one before. Say to yourself "What is that?" Play it weirdly.
  8. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 8
    Play with other people for best results.
  9. Image titled Play Experimental Music Step 9
    Have fun.


  • Not everything you make will sound good. In fact 99% of it will sound like crap. That's alright, the more you experiment, the better you get.
  • You can tune some things by adding or taking away a damper, such as a heavy, soft thing in the bottom of a bucket.
  • Check out ideas from other bands such as Stomp or Blue Man Group. Look at their videos and study how they made some of their instruments.

Things You'll Need

  • Everything ever created.

Article Info

Categories: Music Techniques