Listen to this track by avant-garde-minimalist-ambient-folk-jazz-chamber-whatever collective Penguin Cafe Orchestra. It’s “Music For A Found Harmonium”, the opening track as taken from the 1984 album Broadcasting From Home. The track was initially inspired in just the way you might think; by PCO founder Simon Jeffes actually finding a harmonium in an alley in Japan while on tour there, and then building a piece of music around it.
It’s this kind of out of the box thinking that set him upon this road to start with. The music of Penguin Cafe Orchestra is driven by all kinds of sources, from classical music, to jazz, to folk music of all kinds, referencing traditional pop structure and melody using a variety of stringed instruments, piano, and brass. But, another source used to create the music is from “found sounds”, and in found objects too, from rubber bands to discarded harmoniums.
So, how did Simon Jeffes establish this musical approach, and what can be found in this tune that exemplifies it?