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The Storm by Jack Pavlik

The Storm by Jack Pavlik is a great example of using the characteristic sound of a specific material without a lot of machinery. There's just one band of spring steel, rocking back and forth, powered by a single motor. As you can see the movements are small, yet the sonic effect is overwhelming.

Jack Pavlik made more installations with multiple bands, but I find this one to be a great example of effective use of some basic material. The characteristics of the sound create the feeling of an upcoming storm. The shadows on the wall make it a beautiful thing to look at.


Royal College of Art & Yamaha

The Tenori-on shows how Yamaha likes to experiment with musical instruments. At Futuresonic 2009 Yamaha presents a new collection of unusual experimental instruments in collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

With the title ‘Making Fun Serious’ the exhibition shows concepts of the Royal College of Art students. They try to transform the mundane actions of daily life into a music performance. This results in projects like:

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Marrakech: People singing in the streets

This week I’ll take you to Morocco again, where the sound in the streets can be so very different from what I hear every day. While sitting in a small hotel room in Marrakech, resting after a long walk in the city, this is what I heard.

Is it a wedding? Can someone tell me what they are celebrating? The group passes and moves away. While we can hear the music speed up in the distance, the sound in the street returns to normal.

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Traveling Sound Museum: listen to the past

Have you ever wondered what the world sounded like a thousand years ago? The Traveling Sound Museum gives you the unique chance to listen to the ancient soundscape of the world. The sonic history of our planet, captured in sound jars.

The Traveling Sound Museum is a great looking piece, influenced by the 19th century American salesman. But it also aims at raising questions about museums, collections, and institutional truth and honesty. What moment in history would you want to hear?


New page: Events for sonic inspiration

I just added a new page to Everyday Listening. Click on Events to see a calendar with all kinds of inspiring festivals and events worldwide. It's not that full yet, but I'll keep entering new events as soon as I find out about them.

Do you know of any suitable events I could add to the calendar? Sound art, experimental electronic music, future media, that's the kind of thing I'm looking for. Please send me a message to let me know. Thank you!


Let these Little Helpers surprise you

I love the way Little Helpers surprises passers-by with its tiny rattling noise. This project, created by Will Schrimshaw consists of small pieces of electronics attached to a fence, a railing or a lamp post. Motion sensors track if a person is approaching and start little motors which start banging the object it’s attached to.

It’s interesting to see how some people just ignore it, or don’t seem to notice it at all, while it scares others. Because the Little Helpers are autonomous they react on movement and are not connected to anything, it almost seems like they’re alive. It would definitely put a smile on my face if I would be surprised by one of those things on my way. And maybe that’s reason enough to create a project like this.

Little Helpers is one of the projects featured at the Futuresonic festival.


Akousmaflore: sensitive musical plants

One of the projects presented at the Futuresonic festival this week is Akousmaflore by Scenocosme from France. Akousmaflore is a small garden consisting of plants hanging from the ceiling. By touching the plants, or coming very close to them you cause them to produce sound. It’s like an interactive garden.

The sounds come from speakers placed around the room, so it’s not like each plant has its own speaker. This makes the plants like a musical interface rather than an instrument themselves. One of the aims of the project is to bridge the gap between nature and technology. It certainly creates a beautiful image, as you can see in this video:


Mexico: San Miguel de Allende

This week sounds from another place in Mexico. Drive a few hours from Mexico City to the northwest and you will arrive in San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful and colorful little city. It's sunday, I walk over the square in the heart of the city and it's very crowded. Lots of Mexican tourists seem to spend their weekend here. People are selling icecream and al kinds of other things.

Suddenly the band begins to play in the middle of the square. Their lively sound fills the square, people gather around and couples start to dance to the music. Do they play out of tune? No one seems to notice or no one seems to care. Hey, it's sunday, the sun shines, we have music! I wish I made a longer recording of that magic moment.

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Futuresonic festival: Art, Music & Ideas

The Futuresonic festival takes place this week (13-16 May 2009) in Manchester, UK, together with the Social Technologies Summit. There will be a lot of artworks, an impressive music programme and talks by visionary thinkers from around the world. I would love to go, too bad I have other occupations.

One of the exhibitions is Futuresonic Sound Art, showing projects by Royal College of Art & Yamaha, 2D barcode graffiti sound project, premieres with Jodrell Bank Observatory and Liverpool Cathedral, SoundNetwork and The Owl Project.

The music lineup looks very promising, with performances by Murcof, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Xela, Daedelus, Tim Exile, Kode 9 and Philip Glass, to name a few! We’ll take a closer look at some of the Futuresonic projects during the coming days.

Photo courtesy of


The Vienna vegetable orchestra

This is not the latest video on the net, I know, but still a fun one to watch: the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra performs live on their home-made carrot flutes, cabbage drums and pumpkin basses.

It’s surprising the kind of sounds you can get from some fresh vegetables. I don’t think you can use those instruments for more than a day. And what happens with them after the performance, soup maybe?

The orchestra was formed in 1998, yet it still performs almost every month. For the tour schedule look at their website