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Listen to a real live mouse organ

Experimental artists may have constructed the cutest musical instrument ever: an "organ" played by mice with a penchant for Brahms, Schubert, and Mozart.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

We know mice are pretty actually pretty smart (as demonstrated by the trained rodents of MouseAgility), but are they smart enough to play music? Well, it depends on the instrument.

Duo Fabio Di Salvo and Bernardo Vercelli -- or Quiet Ensemble -- have created a "mouse organ" known as the Orchestra de Camera. Thankfully, it's a little kinder than the Katzenklavier. To work, 40 mice are put in 40 mouse wheels, which are rigged up to music boxes. When the wheels go 'round, the handle turns and the music plays.

The great number of carillons and the random actions of the living creatures makes unrecognizable the melodies (lullabies by Brahms, Schubert, and Mozart), creating an unexpected musical carpet determined by the mice.

This is, of course, not the first time the experimental artists have used the random elements introduced by nature in their work. "Quintetto" translated the movements of fish in vertical tanks, filmed with a video camera, into digital sound signals, while "Orienta; è qui ora, che decido di fermarmi" followed the paths of 25 snails to create a unique light painting.

This story originally appeared at Crave Australia.