A ‘musical manifestation of the sea’ is created by this sound sculpture.
Built in 2002 and designed by Liam Curtin and John Gooding, this organ stands next to Blackpool’s promenade. A narrow tall rusting sculpture shaped like a fern in spring beginning to unfurl, forms the most visible section of the wave organ. The sculpture uses church organ pipes that are sounded by air being forced through them by the ebb and flow of the sea waves. The music made depends on the vigour of the sea, sometimes it intermittently moans and groans, at other times it resembles a lazy orchestra of train whistles, or a slow-action replay of a nightmare recorder lesson.
South Promenade, Blackpool FY4 1BB. Sounds best 2-3 hours before or after high tide. If the sea is calm, you won’t hear anything!
Looking like a cluster of igloos, this sound sculpture is ideal for traditional Icelandic singing.
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“It is great fun visiting this work of art, trying to sing in all the domes teaches one a lot about acoustics. This area is quiet and tranquil and one doesn’t have to feel embarrassed about raising one’s voice to sing out loud”
Constructed from smooth thick concrete, each of these reverberant chambers has been tuned to a different frequency corresponding to a tone in traditional Icelandic five-part harmony. It’s by German artist Lukas Kühne and is called Tvísöngur or The Duet. You can hear the resonances either by singing, or through the wind whistling through the openings.
Here is a short snippet of singing without (anechoic) and then with the sculpture.
Richard Serra’s giant concave artworks can produce an astonishing diversity of sounds.
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I stumbled across this Richard Serra sculpture when flying back from Tononto Airport. Clapping is one way of exploring the space, it’s like having a giant sound-effects unit to play with. Get the right place, and the focused reflections from the arcs follow repetative patterns creating Gatling gun echoes.
It’s also fun to listen out for people with noisy roller suitcases walking down the middle. What’s nice about this sculpture is being outside a gallery means the public can play with the sound. Here is a spot of impromptu singing exploiting the acoustic.
Pearson Airport. Terminal 1, after security, International departures, hammerhead F.
This large sculpture plays with the sound of the wind and waves.
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If you stand in the center of the structure, the sound of the wind and the waves at the bottom of the cliff are intensified. The experience makes you feel as though the elements are swirling around your head.
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Created by Basque artist Eduardo Chillida, this curved concrete sculpture creates a clear and strong amplification of the sounds of the sea crashing at the bottom of the cliff. You have to stand in the center of the sculpture. Close your eyes, you will hear the noise of the waves breaking against the rocks, but the sound comes from the upper area of the sculpture. Apparently it is an accidental sound scuplture, with the artist being surprised when he first heard it.
Thanks to J.Oscar for providing some first hand experience of what is going on (see first comment). It’s a reflection from the underneath of the upper ring. But the other key acoustic element is the lack of any sound straight from the breaking waves to your ear because the edge of the cliff is in the way. This lack of direct sound is what causes the image to falsely appear to come from above, and also why you’re surprised to suddenly hear the sea as you walk into the focus point.
Does anyone have recordings?
The scultpute can be found in the grassy Parque del Cerro de Santa Catalina, at the top of Cimavilla, Gijón.
An accidental sound sculpture created by a wierd flutter echo.
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This doesn’t appear in travel guides to Oslo, but every sound tourist should look it out if they’re in town. Here is me describing the strange acoustic, and as I walk into the middle of the ticket hall you can hear how my voice takes on a strange warbling. (The end of the audio when I walk out from the centre is the most dramatic).
Flutter echos are caused by repeated reflections arriving at regular intervals. In the graph below, you can see them as a set of clearly spaced spikes in the response to the room to a balloon burst. A warble is heard when the reflection pattern has some subtle irregularity about it. There also has to be a delay of more than about twenty-milliseconds for the brain to sense a temporal fluttering.
The architect Arne Eggen kindly sent me an article about the station that includes a plan for the ticket hall. The red lines are added by me to show that the inside space isn’t a simple cylinder but two half cylinders of different radii joined together. This means focussed reflections from the top half-cylinder arrive quicker than those from the bottom half-cylinder. But it is actually more complicated than that, because the domed roof also plays a role in breaking up the regular reflections.
The other thing I learnt from the architect was it wasn’t deliberate. And the railway company didn’t like the effect when it was first built. However, once musicians and others started visiting the remarkable acoustic as a tourist attraction, the train company grew to love it and put a plaque on the floor that says ‘Akustik Skulptur.’
High on the Pennine Moorsthis sculpture uses wind to generate discordant and haunting sounds.
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This piece of public art is high above Burnley on the Pennine moors. It uses the prevailing westerly winds to generate discordant and haunting sounds to accompany the view from Crown Point. It was designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu in 2006 and won a Royal Institute of British Architects award. Not all the pipes create sound – some are just there to create the dramatic shape. The pipes that ‘sing’ create an unearthly choral sound, which is only audible at relatively close range on a windy day.
The organ buried in the promenade makes a haunting but harmonious sound through the motion of the sea.
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Driven by waves this organ creates notes at random. Despite the unpredictability of the sounds, overall what is heard is surprisingly harmonious. This happens because the different organ pipes have been carefully tuned to only produce certain musical notes that sound good together .
The sculpture is seventy meters long and has thirty-five organ pipes built under the concrete; as you move along the promenade the sounds and harmonies change. The movement of the waves push air in and out of the organ pipes to create the notes. It was designed by architect Nikola Bašić.