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Entries in instruments (32)



An interesting question: what happens if you put 14 acoustic guitars on the floor and play them randomly? You would assume it would result in uninteresting noise, but listening to Playa by Ruben Dhers proofs the result can also be quite enchanting. 31 DC motors play the guitars using fans, and a computer controls the installation. The speed of the fans varies, causing a pleasant change in dynamics, and when they swing back and forth a higher speeds it feels like we’re listening to waves of guitar strings. 

Playa can be seen in real life at the Neues Museum Weimar, Germany. 


Power Model VII

Power Model VII (White Power) is a sound installation by Henrik Rylander. All white keys of three electric organs are pressed down with clamps, creating a suspenseful soundscape that sounds surprisingly un-static. 

Playing all those notes at the same time results in a massive sound blanket. Watch the video for an impression: 



If you can’t play the piano, you can build a machine that will play it for you. Maybe that’s what Akko Goldenbeld was thinking when he created Stadsmuziek. The installation resembles the system of an old hand-operated street organ, but now the resulting music is certainly a bit more ‘experimental’. 

I like the idea, and the fact that the system isn’t perfect. The screeching sound of the turning wheels complements the sound of the piano nicely. If only it could be played with a bit more expression..


La Chambre des Machines

Have you ever heard of Luigi Russolo, the writer of the manifesto The Art of Noises? He was the one who in the first half of the 20th Century introduced noise as a musical element. To create this noises he built his Intonarumori, instruments that produced noises similar to the machines that came into being during the industrial revolution. 
La Chambre des Machines, created by Martin Messier and Nicolas Bernier shows us a nice contemporary version of those noise makers. 


Stop/Run by Ed Devane is a collection of nine strange, hand-made instruments. He asked seven composers to create a piece for this ensemble, to be performed at the opening of a week long installation in Severed Head gallery, Dublin, Ireland.

The combination of acoustic and electronic means give the composers a wide range of sonic possibilities. Listen to the pieces recorded on during the opening event:

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Ice Music

More icy sounds of winter, made by Terje Isungset from Norway. Since 1999 he has been working with ice the main material to build his instruments. His first Ice Music album was recorded in the Ice Hotel in Sweden in 2001.

The sound of the ice instruments is never the same, as the material changes and changes in temperature change the timbre of the instruments. And apparently, the colder it gets, the better the ice sounds. For a list of concert dates visit Terje Isungset’s website.


Lego Tinguely 2: a Lego Rhythm Machine

Last year I saw Pierre Bastien play live. Interesting how machines can act as a musical instrument and provide musical layers to improvise on. But it also appeared hard to keep it interesting as there is not much variation in the turning of a wheel. 

Roman Gerold was kind enough to share his latest experiment with me: Lego Tinguely 2: a mechanical rhythm machine made of Lego. A great idea to use such simple building blocks to generate noise and rhythms. Its sounds could play a role in a musical setting as well, if used in moderation. 



It has been quite some time since I found this Gloggomobil on Noise For Airports, yet for some reason I did not share it with you yet. Which is strange, because I love beautiful, handcrafted toys, especially when they make sounds.

Children (and their parents!) can create their own compositions by pushing the black pegs in the holes on the drum. Very simple, yet very nicely constructed. The Gloggomobil was designed by Herbert Bächli and can be ordered online here. There is only one downside: the price is with $1102.00 a tad high. 

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Seven Thousand Oaks

Touch at a Distance was a day organized by Seven Thousand Oaks, Festival of Art and Sustainability at the Heide Sculpture Park in Melbourne. Artists from around Australia contributed to the event. Watch the video to learn more about Touch at a Distance and Seven Thousand Oaks.

I love the description of sound artist and saxophonist Jim Denley, about how his “music is woven into the world or the world woven into his music”. The artists were spread out in the park, to add their own sonic touch to the local soundscape. 


Color a Sound

Installations don’t have to be complicated to be fun. Color a Sound is more like an instrument, and it is not very difficult to operate: you use a colored marker to draw lines or shapes and you will hear the result immediately.   

To keep things simple and easy to operate, also for a untrained musician, only the major scale is used. Blue dots can be drawn to trigger the sounds of a vintage 808 drum computer, although this does not seem to work very well because it is impossible to keep it running at a constant speed.