Starting Soon


Robin Fox

On the surface the term 'monochord' is a musical oxymoron. Mono being one note and chord suggesting multiple notes clustered to form harmonic (or in harmonic) relationships. The monochord was an ancient Greek single stringed instrument that straddled the dual purposes of musical instrument and scientific measuring device. The literal translation is simply 'one string.' I was drawn to MONOCHORD as the title of this work as the kilometre long line of laser light is like a single string—which even crosses a 'bridge' as a guitar or violin string might. I was also drawn to the dual function the monochord played as both an aesthetic and scientific tool. This idea resonates with how I have come to understand my own work as a series of experiments with aesthetic outcomes. A methodology that allows me to work on the edge of the plausible.

The music for the MONOCHORD installation has two distinct characters. There is the music that underscores the static beam and the sound that accompanies the periodic audio-visual activations. For the static beam I have composed a series of ten-minute works that explore one of two ideas. The first was the provocation 'how can I pluck a synthesizer like a string?' So, there are a series of pieces for synthesizers either as old or older than I am that follow this line of sonic enquiry. The second idea was to create works that were an homage to the late Percy Grainger's radical notion of Free Music. The association with Grainger was made when I discovered that his father John Grainger had designed the version of the bridge that still stands. I call these works Grainger's Ghosts (referring to Percy not John) and have made them using gliding sine waves that intersect and interweave to create unexpected harmonic and rhythmic relationships.

The sound for the audio-visual activations is drawn partly from the voltage that moves the beam and articulates planes and patterns across the horizontal axis of the bridge, so in some instances the movement you experience is directly linked to the sound you hear at the level of voltage. The voltage is made both visible and audible at the same time. This produces what I have come to call a kind of mechanical synaesthesia. For me, the music and sound aspects of this installation are on an equal footing with the visual grandeur of the laser light. I hope you enjoy them together.
NIGHTLY, 6.30—9.30PM
Listen live at Birrarung Marr, or via your device anywhere along the river.
Lasers + fountains supplied by Genius Laser
Technical management by Additive
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