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Vegetables aren't just food. They can also be transformed into musical instruments. That's the case for Chinese brothers Nan Weidong and Nan Weiping, who play anything from classical music to pop songs on instruments made entirely from vegetables.
Chinese brothers Nan Weidong and Nan Weiping play anything from classical music to pop songs on instruments made entirely from vegetables.
People could be forgiven for thinking Nan Weidong and Nan Weiping run a restaurant. But the bags stuffed with vegetables that the brothers lug back home are used for a very different purpose -- to make musical instruments. They grew up surrounded by vegetables on a farm, and now live in a narrow apartment in Beijing. They started learning conventional instruments from a young age, but only came up with the idea of playing music with vegetables two years ago. An important part of their work is to select the right vegetables.
Nan Weidong, big brother, said, "If the water content in vegetables evaporates, the tune will become higher than the basic tune or go out of tune. Therefore, the vegetables have to be solid and hard. We can't use vegetables left over from other days."
The brothers play anything from traditional Chinese flute music to modern pop. Different vegetables have different scales and are therefore suited to different melodies. No vegetable goes untested: a sweet potato becomes an ocarina, a bamboo shoot becomes a flute.
Nan Weiping, younger brother, said, "The deeper the hole, the lower the pitch. The shallower the hole, the high the pitch. The size of the hole also matters to guarantee the quality of the sound."
The Nan brothers have appeared on many talent shows in China and often receive payments of up to 8,000 US dollars for one performance. They manage to make a living from the shows, although they are few and far between, and each one requires the brothers to make a fresh new set of instruments. But unfazed, the Nan brothers say they will go on creating ever more elaborate vegetable instruments to play an even wider range of music.