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This Ain’t No Disco

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David Byrne is behind a public sound art project set to open this summer in New York’s Battery Maritime Building, an old waterfront structure. Keyboards, to be played by passers-by, will blow air through exposed pipes, creating deep flute-like sounds, trigger vibrations in steel girders so that they hum, and strike metal columns to ring with gong-like sounds. “It sounds really simple, but it’s kind of a lot of fun,” said Byrne, who started the Talking Heads. “It’s more than fun — it’s awe-inspiring.” Byrne hopes his installation will infuse the landmarked Battery Maritime Building with some musical fun. People of all ages and levels of musical ability can participate with equal success, he said. Whether the building’s natural sounds count as music “depends on your definition of music,” said Byrne, who partnered with Creative Time for the project. The notes range in pitch and volume, at the will of whoever sits down at the keyboard. Each key will act on a different part of the building, producing a different sound, all naturally, without microphones or speakers. “It’s not tuned perfectly — you can’t sit down to play Bach,” Byrne said. The Battery Maritime Building’s age and character makes the music possible. The building’s exposed metal pipes and girders are what make the installation work. “If they’re all sheetrocked, if they’re made pristine, there’s nothing left to make a sound with,” Byrne said.  Source: Downtown Express, May 16, 2008 [READ ARTICLE]  New York Times, 5/30, 2008Includes video of building sounds [READ ARTICLE]

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