Sean Friar GS bows a car fender during a rehearsal of his “Clunker Concerto.”
Sean Friar GS bows a car fender during a rehearsal of his “Clunker Concerto.”
Courtesy American Composers Orchestra

A car fender isn’t just a car fender to composer Sean Friar, a graduate student in Princeton’s music department. It can be a musical ­instrument.  

Friar knows just where to bow a fender to make specific pitches. That fender from a Toyota Corolla that he scavenged in a junkyard is just one of a number of old car parts played by four percussion soloists in his piece, Clunker Concerto, in which Friar sought interesting ways to blend the sounds of ­hubcaps, a tailpipe, brake rotors, and pipes with those of traditional orchestral instruments.  

“What I tried to do was get into the details of the sounds so that they weren’t just add-on or decoration, but were really an integral part of the music,” he explained. Clunker Concerto premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in March.

Clunker Concerto