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Making It

What Fruit Sounds Like, When You Turn Its Natural Electricity Into Techno Beats

Quiet Ensemble plays fruit, converting its sounds into a techno soundscape.

What Fruit Sounds Like, When You Turn Its Natural Electricity Into Techno Beats

There’s something intrinsically human about taking mundane objects and converting them into instruments: The rings of a slice of wood become the grooves of a record, Jell-O becomes a band—and, for two young experimental artists, a cornucopia of fruit becomes a natural synthesizer. Listen to the results yourself:

In Natura Morta, Fabio Di Salvo and Bernardo Vercelli, of Quiet Ensemble, tap into the electrical energy contained in bananas, pears, and pineapples. "Each fruit has acid in it that produces electrical tension," they write. "Using a special technique, we can boost these frequencies making the inaudible audible, the sound of the vital energy of nature." The pieces of fruit are set up on their own platforms and hooked up to homemade MIDI controllers, allowing the artists to manipulate, amplify, and weave the individual sounds into a hypnotic techno composition.

Di Salvo, who has a background in interactive video, and Vercelli, who studied set design, began collaborating a couple of years ago after discovering their mutual fascination with the intersection of nature and technology—what Vercelli describes as "the delicate balance between chaos-control, visible-invisible and the greatness of small events." One of their first projects, Quintetto, videotaped the swimming of goldfish and used computer software to translate the movement into digital sound.

According to the pair, the step with Natura Morta is to refine its performative aspects: Each fruit will stand on a transparent Plexiglass plate, which will light up when it’s played. The sound frequencies will also appear as a video projection representing a "macro vision of the fruit." "Slowly," Quiet Ensemble writes, "the concrete images become abstract, the Natura Morta picture changes, reacting precisely to the sound waves, crashing and dissolving into pure shapes of colors and lights."