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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Listen to a real, live mouse organ

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Quiet Ensemble has constructed the cutest musical instrument ever: music boxes played by mice.

We know mice are pretty actually pretty smart (as seen by the trained rodents of MouseAgility) — but are they smart enough to play music? Well, it depends on the instrument.

Duo Fabio Di Salvo and Bernardo Vercelli — or Quiet Ensemble — have created a "mouse organ" known as the Orchestra de Camera. Thankfully, it's a little kinder than the Katzenklavier. Forty mice are put in 40 mouse wheels, which are rigged up to music boxes. When the wheels go round, the handle turns and the music plays.

The great number of carillons and the random actions of the living creatures makes unrecognisable the melodies (lullabies by Brahms, Schubert and Mozart ), creating an unexpected musical carpet determined by the mice.

This is, of course, not the first time the experimental artists have used the random elements introduced by nature in their work. "Quintetto" translated the movements of fish in vertical tanks, filmed with a video camera, into digital sound signals, while "Orienta; è qui ora, che decido di fermarmi" followed the paths of 25 snails to create a unique light painting.


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