Go Deeper

Matmos and So Percussion Play the Cactus

Posted July 13th, 2010

So Percussion band member Josh Quillen explains how to play a cactus:
“You take a contact mic, like a guitar pickup, and stick it to the green part of the cactus which is basically hollow and spongy and filled with water. When you pluck the spines it sounds sort of like a thumb piano, and each of the spines gets a little different pitch.”

John Cage pioneered the playing of amplified cacti in his 1975 piece, Child of Tree. Check out this video video of So Percussion and Matmos playing the cactus on a recent tour. Hopefully they keep a supply of bandaids on hand…

Both artists will be performing in the Live Arts Festival’s Bang On A Can Marathon in September. Stay tuned for news about their new collaborative album, Treasure State.

–Ellen Freeman