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Friday, April 05, 2019

College students make musical instruments from trash in the L.A. River | Arts & Culture - Los Angeles Times

Catherine Womack, Arts and culture journalist observes, The hills of Griffith Park are lush and green, and a wildflower superbloom is just a day-trip away, but down in the bed of the L.A. River, a different remnant of winter rains lingers: trash.
Flutes were made from Arundo donax, an invasive species that can look like bamboo but may impede the flow of water in the L.A. River.
Photo: Lindsay Morrison / The Soraya
Clinging to the branches of willow trees and large reeds in the riverbed by Elysian Valley, a.k.a. Frogtown, thousands of strips of plastic bags and tattered clothing flutter in the breeze. When heavy rains carried litter down the storm drain, the water may have continued into the ocean but the trash stayed.

For the last six months, Cal State Northridge students in art, music, anthropology, interior design and dance left their campus studios and rehearsal spaces for occasional trips here. They gathered some of that trash, as well as some of the river’s more natural materials, such as rocks and reeds.

Back on campus Friday, those students will play musical instruments made from their scavenging, and they will dance in costumes made from river detritus. It’s all part of Future Currents: L.A. River, a daylong festival designed to engage students and visitors with the river through creative projects. Presented by the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, the free event will take place throughout the center’s indoor and outdoor spaces on the CSUN campus...

And so CSUN students have gotten to know Arundo donax, learning about its history. For millenniums the reed has been used to make music. The ney, a popular Persian, Turkish and Arabic end-blown flute and one of the world’s oldest instruments, is made from carefully treated and prepared Arundo donax. Western reed instruments like the oboe and clarinet also rely on the uniquely structured material.

Source: Los Angeles Times