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This Boston percussionist keeps the beat on bikes

Reynaliz Herrera will perform Sunday for Harvard Museums of Science & Culture’s virtual World Bicycle Day Celebration.Meg Ramirez

Think “Stomp” with bicycles.

That’s the foot-tapping vibe you get from Boston bike-percussionist Reynaliz Herrera’s performances.

“I usually use all kinds of bikes — mountain bikes or big hybrid bikes for more bass-like sounds, road bikes for more high-pitched sounds,” explained Herrera, who has been making bike-music for 9 years, ever since earning her master’s in percussion from Boston Conservatory (now known as Boston Conservatory at Berklee).

The composer’s unique brand of theatrical percussion will be featured during Harvard Museums of Science & Culture’s free virtual World Bicycle Day Celebration Sunday from noon to 1:15 p.m. In theory, you’ll be amped for cycling by 1:16 — and after listening to Herrera, you may have the urge to drum on your handlebars.


Viewers will specifically catch Herrera “using a road bike I got secondhand” for an original solo piece called “Ideas, Not Theories — Bicycle Beats.” She’ll also perform an excerpt from her full-length program where she plays four different musical parts on three different bicycles on a split screen.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1984, Herrera has lived in Boston for about a decade. After graduate school, she was contemplating street performance — but percussion instruments are heavy.

“So one night I just thought: What if I just drum on my bike?” I got super excited about the idea and after busking a couple times, I started writing full pieces for bikes and then full programs using the bicycles as instruments.”

Herrera eventually founded Ideas, Not Theories, her theatrical percussion company featuring a rotating cast of performers who play her original music for bicycles and other unconventional instruments. The music itself might come from “the tubes from the frame, the chainwheel, the wheels, seat, spokes, handlebars,” Herrera explained. Her composition process starts with exploring and cataloging the particular sound of each bike.


Reynaliz Herrera (in suspenders) performed with Ideas, Not Theories at Illuminus Boston.Aram Boghosian

Aside from pedal-powered music, the lineup for Sunday’s event includes basic bicycle maintenance lessons — from changing a tire to fixing your chain — bicycle safety tips from MassBike, and learning about urban bikeways.

The United Nation’s World Bicycle Day was officially on June 3. Harvard Museums of Science & Culture moved their celebration to the weekend to make the program more accessible, said Susan Thompson, director of Institutional Advancement at HMSC. The idea is “celebrating the power of the bicycle to help protect the natural world that we share with museum visitors,” Thompson said. “Afterward, we hope our audience will jump on their bikes for an afternoon ride.”


Sunday, noon-1:15 p.m. Register at Reynaliz Herrera will perform again on June 18 in Somerville. Learn more at

Lauren Daley can be reached at She tweets @laurendaley1.

Lauren Daley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.