travis weller
composer / performer

April 11, 2009

Listening for lines of silence

Filed under: new music co-op — travis @ 4:49 am

As part of NMC’s upcoming performance we are setting up an early version of Alvin Lucier’s Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas featuring unattended snare drums placed carefully within the room according to the crests and troughs of resonance of sine waves from two loudspeakers.

The process of setting up this piece is quite mysterious, and requires much trial and error. Charles Curtis, our guest artist, has pulled it off many times — but insists that each time is quite different as each room is a new landscape with unique constructive and destructive interference patterns resulting from different arrangements of walls, speakers, and the delicate adjustments of the snare assembly in the drums, etc.

The process goes something like this: first, you turn on the sine waves. Then you silently listen to the invsible waves of interference moving past you — a ghostly presence almost like the air pressure of the room is greater on one side of your head than the other. Then the wave front slowly moves around behind your head and continues past you. These areas of pressure excite the snares of each drum and they resonate quietly as the wave fronts navigate the room. If you manage to move the drums into ideal locations, the successive vibrations of the drums betray the route of the invisible waves as they move.

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