Watch composer Bonnie Whiting from Seattle Classical. Seattle percussionist and composer Bonnie Whiting speaks to the importance of independence and the close bond between voice and percussion.

For percussionist Bonnie Whiting, any object can be an instrument


Seattle is a city that likes to experiment. From big tech to bold coffee, glass gardens to snow-capped mountains, Seattleites like to think outside the box — heck, even our hot dogs are a little unconventional. Our skyline's defining landmark is designed to look like a flying saucer from outer space.

So it's only natural that this same inventive spirit carries over into our music. From grunge to rock, pop, hip-hop, and the avant-garde, Seattle music has always been defined by open ears and open minds — shaped by a DIY aesthetic and set free to evolve and mutate in relative geographic isolation.

And those sonic experiments have led us to some pretty fascinating places. In this three-part series, Classical KING FM 98.1 explores the work of three artists who embody Seattle classical: the innovative, the unusual, and the unexpected.

If you want to be a percussionist in the 21st century, you've got to play a lot more than just drums. From flower pots to file racks and found objects, nothing should be off-limits. If you can hit, shake, or strike it, it's a percussion instrument.

That's what drew Bonnie Whiting to the big, wide world of contemporary percussion. There's a sense of flexibility and possibility — finding music in everyday objects. Whether you're toe-tapping and finger-snapping along to your favorite band or impatiently drumming your fingers on a desk, we all play a little bit of percussion.

That notion of immediacy and spontaneity informs a lot of Whiting's work. When she's not shaping young musical minds at the University of Washington, she's on stage playing her ever-expanding collection of hand-picked percussion instruments: everything from pots and pans to gongs and bongos.

And she's not afraid to use her voice. Whiting specializes in performing works for speaking and, oftentimes, singing percussion. She does all three in her new project Through the Eye(s). Created in collaboration with composer Eliza Brown, this percussion song cycle features the music and poetry of ten incarcerated women from the Indiana Women's Prison.

In this video, she talks with Seattle's Classical KING FM 98.1 about musical multitasking, finding your own voice, and percussion as the pulse of our humanity.

Watch more videos featuring Bonnie Whiting: