Landfill Harmonic – Creating Beautiful Music on Instruments Made From Trash

In Cateura, a slum built atop a landfill in Paraguay, young people are discovering the joys of art, music and creativity. They don’t have money to buy expensive instruments — a violin is worth more than a house around in these parts. Instead, they have learned to play on instruments skillfully crafted from trash found in the adjacent landfill. Nicolas Gomez, who is known to his peers as “Cola,” builds these violins, cellos, flutes and more in his studio (which he also built).

Instrument-maker Nicolas "Cola" Gomez and Favio Chavez, Director of the Orchestra, in Cateura, Paraguay.

Instrument-maker Nicolas “Cola” Gomez and Favio Chavez, Director of the Orchestra, in Cateura, Paraguay.

Goodlifer: Landfill Harmonic - Creating Beautiful Music on Instruments Made From Trash

Violins made from recycled landfill trash.

Under the direction of Favio Chavez, these youths have formed an orchestra that has come to be called the “Landfill Harmonic.” This is also the name of an upcoming feature-length documentary about these kids and their remarkable journey into the world of music.

Goodlifer: Landfill Harmonic - Creating Beautiful Music on Instruments Made From Trash

The film “shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.”

This is where the magic starts. Nicolas Gomez, better known as "Cola," building a recycled violin in his (also homebuilt) studio in Cateura.

This is where the magic starts. Nicolas Gomez, better known as “Cola,” building a recycled violin in his (also homebuilt) studio in Cateura.

Watch the trailer, above, and visit the film’s Facebook page for more information about the release date.

Landfill Harmonic - Creating Beautiful Music on Instruments Made From Trash

“Without music,” one girl says, “my life has no meaning.”

Landfill Harmonic - Creating Beautiful Music on Instruments Made From Trash

Images courtesy of Landfill Harmonic

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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  1. I wonder if there’s any way I can buy one of theses instruments? I’m currently looking for a new violin for my Orchestra.

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