Mechanics of music: Motors, acoustics fuel composer’s sound

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The 80-piece orchestra played an otherworldly array of sounds through the concert hall.

Some songs are quaint and slow-burning. Others are snazzy and up-tempo. The sounds developed slowly, hints of xylophone, Asian string instruments and mournful trumpet. Percussion gallops in and out of the melody.

But only one man controlled the music.

Composer Pierre Bastien built the mechanized music-maker, which he named Mecanium, out of electric motors, acoustic instruments and Meccano girders, brackets and hardware.

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