Welcome to Broken Orchestra Typewriter

Hi there. Please start typing…

This is the Broken Orchestra Typewriter - a living composition made up of hundreds of musical ideas that composes music as you compose letters and words. Try typing the same word a few times and see what happens...

The sounds you are hearing come from recordings of broken instruments, and are part of a project that has inspired people to ‘adopt’ hundreds of badly damaged instruments and raise funds to repair and return them to the public schools.

As you type, hundreds of musical ideas are being ordered, processed, layered, filtered, and repeated according to the words you choose and how you type them. Each time you hit the spacebar you re-calibrate the system and deepen the algorithm that composes along with you.

You can use the Controls to adjust, playback, save and share your composition. Thanks and have fun!

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Headphones recommended. Turn up the volume!

Enter you email and we will send you a link to your piece that you can share:

Your privacy is important to us. We will never share your email address.
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Broken Orchestra

This portal is dedicated to Symphony for a Broken Orchestra and its mission to fix and repair hundreds of broken instruments and return them to public schools. It features:

Broken O Typewriter - a living composition made up of hundreds of musical ideas played by broken instruments through your computer keyboard;
Symphony for Broken Instruments + Suites - a live recording of the symphony by David Lang for over 400 student, amateur and professional musicians; and Suites for a Broken Orchestra, new works by renowned producers reimagining the broken orchestra;
Broken Instruments Sample Pack - a free download of our sample library

In early 2017, Found Sound Nation catalogued and recorded the sounds of over 800 broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system. These recordings were part of an effort, led by Temple Contemporary, to create a Symphony for a Broken Orchestra and inspire the public to ‘adopt’ hundreds of school-owned broken instruments and raise funds to repair and restore them to the schools. As of Fall 2018 roughly 1,000 previously broken instruments were ‘adopted’, repaired and returned to the Philadelphia public school district. If you would like to make a donation please visit The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. We hope this archive can inspire continued interest in this project and our collective reinvestment in music in schools.

Symphony for a Broken Orchestra was commissioned by Temple Contemporary at The Tyler School of Art. Major support is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Barra Foundation.

Symphony For Broken Instruments

“Last year I got an amazing phone call, out of the blue, from Robert Blackson, who runs the contemporary art gallery at Temple University. He told me that he had somehow – miraculously – gotten access to all the broken instruments in the Philadelphia public school system, and he asked if I had any interest in writing something for them. In fact, I did! Robert didn’t know it, but my first thought about these instruments was autobiographical. I am only a musician because there were robust music programs in the public schools that I attended as a child – a public school music education is why I am here today. My first thought was that 1500 broken musical instruments meant 1500 missed opportunities to change school children's’ lives, the way my life had been changed.

What I hoped to do in these pieces was to give untrained and lesser trained performers the chance to do what our most trained and sophisticated performers do all the time – to work really hard together, to solve a tough musical problem together, to make something beautiful together. Our ensemble has a range of everyone in the city – from school children just learning how to play to amateurs to future professionals to members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. People from all across the city, coming together, making music. It is a beautiful sight. Of course, in this piece, one of the problems these musicians have come together to solve is that their instruments don’t work as they are expected to. Some are barely changed, some are just more complicated to play, and some are now incapable of doing what they were designed for. Part of each player’s job is learning what each instrument can and cannot do, and then adapting himself or herself to it. These instruments, like the people who play them, are unique, extraordinary. It has been a joy to work with them.”

David Lang, Introduction to Symphony for Broken Instruments
Recorded live on December 3rd, 2017 at the 23rd Street Armory, Philadelphia
Engineered & Mixed by Devin Greenwood & Arun Pandian

Press

"Parents are used to hearing that school budgets are putting the squeeze on activities like music and sports. But rarely has a solution to such a problem been as elaborate and artistic as the “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.”

Ted Loos, The New York Times
November 6, 2017

“The piece repurchases the dreams that these instruments represent for children, whether it’s performing Mozart with a chamber ensemble or wailing on a tenor sax. Making new art is the best redemption imaginable for a broken instrument.”

Kristen Capps, The Atlantic
December 4, 2017

“Has a symphony ever been so noble, yet so whacked? Even before its premiere on Sunday at the 23rd Street Armory, the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra had fulfilled its larger function in the musical ecosystem: By simply writing a major work for 400 broken school instruments, the much-awarded composer David Lang had called attention to the need for more functional musical instruments for the betterment of the educational system and the community at large.”

David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer
December 3rd, 2017

Suites for a Broken Orchestra

In early 2017 Found Sound Nation catalogued and recorded the sounds of over 800 broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system. As these recordings became the raw material for David Lang's new orchestral work Symphony for Broken Instruments, we quickly realized that we were in the process of archiving a unique collection of sounds - a trove of singular, never-to-be-played-again instruments. We invited a larger community of producers to creatively reimagine these broken instrument samples, generating new works in any style and by any means they wished.

With over 120 submissions from around the world, Suites from a Broken Orchestra presents our favorite submissions from the Remix Contest, alongside a selection of commissioned tracks by acclaimed producers and musicians including Daedelus, Julia Holter, Ian Chang (Son Lux), Miho Hatori, Half Waif and Angelica Negron. The Symphony was part of a larger effort, led by Temple Contemporary, to inspire the public to ‘adopt’ these instruments and raise the funds needed to repair and restore these instruments to schools.

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Broken Orchestra Remix Contest:

From December 2017 to February 2018 the Broken Orchestra Remix Contest invited musicians and producers from around the world to remix the Broken Instrument sample pack. The single criteria was to use only the sound library as the raw material for creation and embrace the instruments’ brokenness.

Remix Contest Winners: Diego Abelardo, Pablo Mirete, Krunal Kumpavat & Saskia Teles Peter
Executive Produced by: Kyla Rose Smith Mastered by: Luisa Puterman

Special thanks to the incredible musicians and students in Philadelphia who recorded the sounds of over 800 broken instruments with us: Adam Abramson, Aiden, Alex Vogelsong, Alyssa Almeida, Andy Thierauf, Ardath Belzer, Ben Mulholland, Carlos Santiago, Colleen Law, Connor Przybyszewski, Dan Blacksberg, Daniel Nosheny, David Fishkin, Elena Moon Park, Elliott Levin, Emily Schuman, Emma Method, Eric Derr, Erica Corbo, Jay Krush, Jeffrey Ferguson, Jeremy Thal, Jesse Kudler, Joshua Machiz, Joshua Neale, Julie Lipson, Justin Walcroft, Katelyn Cyril, Kevin Vu, Koofreh Umoren, Laura Neuman, Martin Ventura, Matthew Engle, Mel Gervasio, Mick Ricereto, Patrick Oberstaedt, Pete Angevine, Steve Davit,Tessa Harrison, Tom Kraines, Tracy Nguyen, Tyler Illis, Veronica Jurkiewicz, Wilson Shook, Zachary McKenna, Zephyr Kremer, Zubin Hensler

Broken Instruments Sample Pack

The Broken Instruments Sample Pack is a free download of Found Sound Nation's favorite sounds from the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra Project. To receive the sample packs please complete the form and we will send you download links to both the Full (2.3GB) and Selects (800 MB) Broken Instruments sample banks. Feel free to email us at around@foundsoundnation.org if you have additional questions or ideas:
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Request Sample Pack Download

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All samples were recorded by Found Sound Nation at Temple Contemporary in Philadelphia from November, 2016 - January 2017. Special thanks to the incredible musicians and students in Philadelphia who recorded with us: Adam Abramson, Aiden, Alex Vogelsong, Alyssa Almeida, Andy Thierauf, Ardath Belzer, Ben Mulholland, Carlos Santiago, Colleen Law, Connor Przybyszewski, Dan Blacksberg, Daniel Nosheny, David Fishkin, Elena Moon Park, Elliott Levin, Emily Schuman, Emma Method, Eric Derr, Erica Corbo, Jay Krush, Jeffrey Ferguson, Jeremy Thal, Jesse Kudler, Joshua Machiz, Joshua Neale, Julie Lipson, Justin Walcroft, Katelyn Cyril, Kevin Vu, Koofreh Umoren, Laura Neuman, Martin Ventura, Matthew Engle, Mel Gervasio, Mick Ricereto, Patrick Oberstaedt, Pete Angevine, Steve Davit,Tessa Harrison, Tom Kraines, Tracy Nguyen, Tyler Illis, Veronica Jurkiewicz, Wilson Shook, Zachary McKenna, Zephyr Kremer, Zubin Hensler

Broken O Typewriter

Broken O is a living composition made up of musical ideas played by broken instruments through a typewriter. As you type, hundreds of musical ideas are ordered, processed, layered, filtered, and repeated according to the words you choose and the speed at which you type them. The Typewriter was created by Christopher Marianetti and Pete Wise and is dedicated to the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra project which collected, catalogued and repaired over a thousand broken musical instruments for the Philadelphia public school system in 2018.

The Typewriter works by layering musical samples associated with your most frequent letter choices - the more words you type the deeper you dive into a unique musical ecosystem specific your words (letter combinations). Each time you hit space bar you re-calibrate your letter system's frequencies, rankings and probabilities. This will alter your system's preference of certain musical ideas over others - activating ideas according to an ever changing table of probabilities. By pressing either ‘shift’, comma or period, you can move between four orchestral sound worlds (trees).


space Update letter system (preferences)

shift or , or . Shift orchestral sound world (trees)


The algorithm is based on Zipf’s law - a statistical phenomenon (power law) that is frequently observed but remains still somewhat of a mystery. One well known example seen in language demonstrates that the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank, given a large sampling. So the most frequent word will occur roughly twice as often as the second most frequent word, three times as often as the third most frequent, and so on and so on. Zipf’s law has been observed across all languages, even ancient ones we haven’t been able to translate yet, as well as in city populations, earthquake magnitudes, last names, website traffic, the firing patterns of neural networks and much more. Go Zipf Go.

The Typewriter features samples of Broken Orchestra Remixes by: Elijah Jamal, Daedelus, Mustelide, Mitya, King Shi, Dima Kay, Vladimir Zhukov, Angelica Negron, Sunitram, Ben Brody, Mino Hatori, Half Waif, Keith Sweaty, Krunal Kumpavat, Stephen Adams, Pablo Mirete Godoy, Elyse Tabet, Gizem, Enrico de Trizio, Apenino, Jett Ilagan, Ian Chang, Eric Hogg, Diego Abelardo, Daniel Ortiz, Dj Carlos, Gavin Brivik, Gabriel Francisco Lemos, Andy Li, Hugh Sheehan, John Boswell, Thiago Pospichil Marques, Max Bonifacio, Julia Holter, John Darling, Justin Jaramillo, Alex Chumak, Ana Lopez Reyes, David Donaldson, Arthur Decloedt, Alexandre Moreno, Josh James, Michael Kim-Sheng, Robert Trusko, Joshua Lim, David Crowell, Kevin Brezolin

Privacy and Terms and Conditions of Use

Conditions of Use for Symphony For A Broken Orchestra Sample Pack

These recordings have been made available on under a creative-commons licence with the intention of fostering and inspiring creativity in the field. Please provide the following credit for any usage of the samples:

All samples provided by Found Sound Nation and Symphony For A Broken Orchestra. Symphony for a Broken Orchestra was commissioned by Temple Contemporary at The Tyler School of Art. Major support is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Barra Foundation.

Your privacy is critically important to us.

It is Found Sound Nation’s policy to respect your privacy regarding any information we may collect while operating our website. This Privacy Policy applies to foundsoundnation.org (hereinafter, "us", "we", or "foundsoundnation.org"). We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting personally identifiable information you may provide us through the Website. We have adopted this privacy policy ("Privacy Policy") to explain what information may be collected on our Website, how we use this information, and under what circumstances we may disclose the information to third parties. This Privacy Policy applies only to information we collect through the Website and does not apply to our collection of information from other sources. This Privacy Policy, together with the Terms and conditions posted on our Website, set forth the general rules and policies governing your use of our Website. Depending on your activities when visiting our Website, you may be required to agree to additional terms and conditions.

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