It's So Percussion... Our 5 Favorite Unconventional Drumbeats

Buy a five-year-old a fancy toy drum kit and the odds are you've wasted your money. But give that kid an empty 2-liter bottle, an overturned cooking pot and a wooden spoon, an oatmeal canister filled with dry beans or a set of car keys and that kid'll probably be occupied for several hours.

That's the idea behind experimental artists Sō Percussion, performing tonight and tomorrow at DiverseWorks. The performance, "Imaginary City," was commissioned by DiverseWorks and the Myrna Loy Center/Helena Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, and will feature videography by filmmaker Jenise Treuting depicting sprawling and expansive landscapes, including Houston's own skyline.

As the video above shows, there is no limit to the group's imaginary usage of household items. They make "drums" out of everything from bicycle spokes to necklace chains. And the effect is meant to sound more symphonic than rhythmic. But they aren't the first group to use non-traditional drumming in the studio or during performances. Below, some of Rocks Off's other favorite beats.

"Everyday," Buddy Holly

Crickets drummer Jerry Allison slaps his hands on his knees instead of hitting the skins, and Buddy Holly's producer's wife (got that) plays the celesta, a kind of tiny upright piano.

"The End," The Beatles

When The Beatles let under-appreciated Ringo write songs, the final product was usually ridiculous (see "Yellow Submarine"). But when they finally let him loose on the drums, on the last song they ever recorded, the result was awesome. It became Ringo's only drum solo as a member of The Beatles.

"Wipe Out," The Ventures

Two words: holy hell. Two more words: hand cramps.

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra

Five guys from Australia re-imagine the Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, complete with coconut-cum-horsehoof sound effects and slapstick comedy. Of the five guys, three play percussion.

Karen Carpenter

Rocks Off loves chick drummers, and drummers who sing. Karen Carpenter is two rolled into one.

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Shey is an experienced blogger, social media expert and traveler. She studied journalism at Oklahoma State University before working as a full-time reporter for Houston Community Newspapers in 2005. She lived in South Korea for three years, where she worked as a freelancer.
Contact: Brittanie Shey