Time Traveling Object
“How would one make a new/existing design last long? Students will explore the past and future to speculate on generating a sustainable design that could exist in a distant time horizon.” — Environments 2017
In this assignment, we were asked to design a sustainable preservation system that would allow an object of our choice to persist into indefinite eternity. After we made our selections, we observed past experience, related artifacts and the surrounding contemporary context in order to predict and prepare for the future.
Object: The Aeolian Harp
An aeolian harp is a musical instrument that is played by the wind. It is the only stringed instrument that plays solely harmonic frequencies. The proposed sustainable preservation system will allow a rendition of this instrument to persist into indefinite eternity based on the anthropological and cultural analysis of related artifacts and the surrounding contemporary context in which these kind of objects exist.
I predict that in the generations and centuries to come, music will remain an identifying staple of all societies and cultures because of the emotional, psychological and physiological bond humans share with musical sound. Furthermore, the study of eurythmics shows us that music and the body are innately intertwined. The Dalcroze method, commonly known today as eurythmics, is a practice used to teach music by building physical awareness and experience of music through kinesthetic sensations. Eurhythmics often introduces a musical concept through the movement of the body before teaching anything about its visual representation. This is an example of how musical performance occurs even before audible music is created, and is indicative of a biorhythm that all humans innately possess.
- Research on Acoustics/Psychoacoustics, Eurythmics, Wind Instruments, Musical Techniques/ What is the context of the object?
- Influence of Object on People/ What is the importance of preserving the object?
- Wind, Sustainable Resources, Social-Trans-Cultural-Architectural System/How do we preserve the object?
- Proposed System Diagram/What is the object preservation design?
Researchers have found that flutes are the world’s oldest-known musical instruments.
Made of bird bone and mammoth ivory, the very first iterations of this wind instrument were found in a cave in southern Germany which contains early evidence of the first modern homo sapiens in Europe. They are estimated to be approximately 42,000 to 43,000 years old. These kinds of findings point to the role music could have played in the maintenance of larger social networks, which may have helped our species expand their territory at the expense of the more conservative Neanderthals.
The Voice As An Instrument
Gregorian chanting, resonance/vibration, foundations in religion as a unifying practice.
Many spiritual and meditative practices are bound and expanded upon through music and musical performances. EXAMPLES
Musically generated ecosystem — wolves howling at the moon, birds singing, whales singing, plants growing to music
During a time where mixtapes, CD’s and MP3’s have rapidly become obsolete, preserving music has become a daunting challenge in the context of the ever-changing technological landscape.
Social and political changes/strife, other arts, other cultures, expanding technologies, etc. contribute to the development of musical genres, styles and techniques.
The music box is a percussive instrument that consists of a crank, a cylinder with calculated extrusions, and a comb-like pick. As you turn the crank, the extrusions on the cylinder will pluck the teeth of the pick causing them to vibrate at different speeds. In modern times, the resonant frequencies sound whimsical and reminiscent of fairy-tales. They are often visually themed that way. Artisans and instrument makers adorned the outside casing of music boxes (often made of wood or tin) with decorative illustrations, symbols, gems, and trims. These are peripheral artifacts that introduce the culture and context from which the song comes.
The performative nature of this machine communicates a simple message that is experienced across a fleeting fragment of time. As long as the mechanism remains operational, this performance may be experienced again and again through time. Culture and place may recycle or redefine the message’s meaning, but the compositional structure of the performance remains the same.
However, there are many other composing techniques that consist of different concoctions of structure vs. spontaneity.
Aspects of new music and contemporary musical notation have some aspect of indeterminacy and require a degree of improvisation to be performed.
“How strange, how new, how expressive, how beautiful were his ideas in improvising.” C.P.E. Bach on his father
Composers often leave a wide range of choices up to the performers while providing a basic framework.
The music can garner or encourage the development of an intimate relationship between the musicians who play it, allowing them to expand upon or embellish each other’s ideas. This musicality between musicians is what has made performers like the Grateful Dead___etc. great.
A creative dialogue/collaboration between the performer and the composer — in the context of this preservation system, would be an intergenerational collaboration.
Performers are the co-creators of music that is constantly re-invented and re-innovated every time it is performed.
Con: performers must be willing to devote time and practice the the nuanced understanding of creative improvisation, as like with any skill. Reliant on the continued relevance of the performing arts in society.
I predict that in the generations and centuries to come, the performing arts will remain a staple of many societies and cultures because of the emotional, psychological and physiological relationship humans have with music. The study of eurythmics shows us that music and the body are innately intertwined. The Dalcroze method, commonly known today as eurythmics, is a practice used to teach music by building physical awareness and experience of music through kinesthetic sensations. Eurhythmics often introduces a musical concept through the movement of the body before teaching anything about its visual representation. This is an example of how musical performance occurs even before audible music is created, and is indicative of a biorhythm that all humans innately possess.
Luigi Russolo, Ugo Piatti and the Intonarumori
In the early decades of the twentieth century, Futurism, one of the precursors to better known early modern movements such as dadaism and surrealism. Futurism was concerned with the idea that modern life had been warped by industrialism, and one of it’s core beliefs was that contemporary art should embrace the abrasive and bold nature of the modern age. The musical instruments were named according to the sounds they emitted:
“Hissers, bursters, rustlers, croakers…” During their existence, the instruments functioned using a drum-like membrane with strings that would prod and pull to create sounds.
Having been a musician for most of my life, I grew up around sheet music when practicing for concerts and learning new songs. There is a process to analyzing written music: First, skim the entire composition, taking note of things such as time signature, key, title, composer and length. Next, look back at the general patterns of notes in the measures- is it layered and dense or sparse and light? Are melodies often re-used or re-interpreted/altered? Are there any directions from the composer that the musician must follow? What’s very interesting about sheet music is that instructions are both communicated verbally and visually. The usage of visual cues in communicating to musicians is a way of bridging the gap between human language and the performance of sounds.
Visual Translation of Sound
The works of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki are famed for their unique visual notation style, whose line weights and use of blank space communicates viscerally and provocatively to his audience.
Architectural Translation of Sound
As an extension of the movement of new music visual notation, work addressing and creating sonically-generated infrastructures emerged. The fusing of the ancient greek terms “poly” (“many”) and “topos” (“place”) was first seen used by the Greek-French composer Iannis Xenakis to describe his spatial creations that merged elements of sound, architecture, color and. In 1947, Xenakis entered a collaboration with the esteemed architect, Le Corbusier, to work on engineering computationally-driven designs. One of these collaborations birthed the Philips Pavilion (1958), designed for the World Fair representing Brussels.
“The Polytopes are closely tied to a specific architecture or to an archeological site and add a system of cartesian coordinates composed by points of sound (speakers) or of light. Starting from these axiomatics entities, Xenakis builds some figures or volumes with music and light. He thus starts a search for a parallel formalisation through the different media. The components of this diachronic ensemble are each treated independently, the synthesis and attribution of sense depending on the spectator, who becomes the interpreter”. (Translated from French from http://www.iannis-xenakis.org/fxe/archi/archi.html)
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum — Archaeoacoustic Analysis
My proposed preservation system references the structural properties of sound and the social venues of both ancient and modern civilizations. Similar to the greek agoras, vast open spaces that once hosted markets and assemblies, and Japanese gardens that allow visitors to reminisce on the olden and faraway natural landscape, the scale and context of this monument speaks to the compelling human need for community and a strongly drawn fascination with the natural world. Inspired by Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion (1958), the monument’s architectural system is comprised of harmonic curves which reflect the patterns of sound vibration through air and matter.
This system proposes a musically generated ecosystem, where the structure itself serves as both instrument and place of congregation. As wind blows through and across the instrument, the wire cables will vibrate at individual harmonic frequencies.
The performative nature of this instrument can be continually experienced upon its activation by the wind. As long as the mechanism remains operational, this performance may be experienced again and again through time. Culture and place may recycle or redefine the message’s meaning, but the compositional structure of the performance remains the same.