Scrapheap orchestras

Tim Prebble introduced my family via his blog to this reality TV show about an orchestra performing on instruments made from scrap.

It was surprising how engrossed my kids became in the show but they don't watch much television, so maybe it was a novelty. I particularly enjoyed the instrument makers and the background information about Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

It would've been interesting to learn more about the musicians. I think an American version of the show could stretch to a season because it seemed like it was made with a small crew and more crews could generate a lot more content covering the participants.

Just before we got to the finale, I remembered where I'd seen a similar story and made my family watch this documentary about the Landfill Harmonic in South America.

In comparison the British reality television show seemed to be gentrified and dictated by the needs of television. The timeframe for production might've determined the need to use professional musicians and instrument makers. As a result it loses a lot of the human interest for me.

There's something about the South American 'underdog' story that makes it so much more poignant but I really enjoyed the orchestra and particularly the makers in the British show, which I think is reality television while the Landfill Harmonic piece seems more like a documentary.

There's a lot that 'reality' and documentary television share in common but I think there is a line that gets crossed by the former in terms of manipulating the narrative and/or outcomes that defines them as separate genres.