"This is free. I want the poorest children to take part in this."
June 25, 2015 3:09 PM   Subscribe

In Paraguay, there is a special place named Catuera. It is remarkable for several reason, first is that it is the main trash dumping area for the country. The second is that there are about 10,000 people living there, making a living scavenging and reselling parts that they find. Third, they have an amazing orchestra.

It started when Luis Szaran, an accomplished musical director, wanted to start a program to teach children living on the margins to play musical instruments as a means to enrich their lives and provide the possibility of social transformation. The project eventually led him to Catuera, a giant landfill, where once the idea was accepted by the community, they discovered that the people who wanted to be involved, far surpassed the available instruments.

Then, among a number of people who were trying to build instruments in a more traditional manner, came Nicholas. He was a scavenger, skilled in recycling, with a talent for building and fabrication. Someone brought him a violin and asked him to see if he could make something similar out of the materials they had on hand; junk.

From there things started to get pretty amazing.

The Landfill Harmonic has a Facebook page, as well as a small YouTube channel.
posted by quin (11 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
F'in brilliant!
posted by carter at 4:47 PM on June 25, 2015

Best of the web world
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:04 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wonderful, thanks for posting! Their name works better in English, I think: The Land Fillharmonic ;-)
posted by Quietgal at 7:32 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Truly the very best example of education. Thank you so much for sharing.
posted by harrietthespy at 8:20 PM on June 25, 2015

This is great, thank you for sharing. They have a donation page.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:38 PM on June 25, 2015

Interesting that they seem to be using 'real' bows, I'm imagining the order they placed to buy a crate of bows and strings and bridges and nothing else. I wonder if it's more difficult to create a bow than the instrument out of reclaimed stuff--I can't see why, do we have any luthiers here who can explain?
posted by epanalepsis at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2015

Berta Rojas, the amazing Paraguayan guitarist has spent a lot of time with the orchestra trying to raise awareness for their project.
posted by cleroy at 12:24 PM on June 26, 2015

Just dropping my 4 year old MeFi coinage, here, because it's relevant...

posted by symbioid at 1:39 PM on June 26, 2015

Holy shit, the sounds being produced. This seriously sounds amazing!
posted by symbioid at 1:44 PM on June 26, 2015

'real' bows

It's probably kind of hard to get virgin horsetail hair for the bows; importing inexpensive mass produced bows from, say, China might be worthwhile. The bow's spine is also pretty hard to make correctly. They probably got tired of improvised bows breaking all the time.

I wonder what they use for rosin? The friction from the rosin and the microscopic 'saw teeth' of keratin are required in order to generate the vibrations needed to produce sound.

The body of the violin amplifies and shapes that sound.

I wonder if they use actual old-timey gut or if they use synthetic strings?
posted by porpoise at 4:39 PM on June 26, 2015

posted by jacquilynne at 11:43 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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