Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gordang Sambilan Sound Chamber in Ohio

Children enjoying Sound Chamber, which was repainted and moved to a city park in Troy, Ohio.

From: Sculpture Magazine-September / October 1992

Michael Bashaw, Sound Chamber
Troy, Ohio
To commemorate its 75th anniversary, the Hobart Brothers Company commissioned a participatory sound piece for its welded metal sculpture park in Troy, Ohio. Sculptor / musician Michael Bashaw created Sound Chamber in five months, with the help of Hobart engineers and welders. He modeled the $50,000 work on the geometric bamboo and tyvek paper structure he built at Paul Winter's Living Music Village in Connecticut in 1989. Bashaw explains that the structure, a "hybrid of cultures," is related visually to pagodas and conceptually to ceremonial drum huts (Sopo Gandag)of the Mandailing people of North Sumatra. Visitors to Sound Chamber animate drum gongs and kalimbas with their hands; they use mallets and sticks to draw music from tone rods, musical rasps and mbira ("tongues"), flat steel strips clamped to a resonating surface. A tide of 3,800 ball bearings rolling within an ocean drum adds to the percussive symphony. Bashaw intends the sculpture to bring people together, "celebrating the communal spirit in sound." Concerned about the work's proximity to residences, he softened volume and tuned the instruments to a melodic five-tone scale. Since Bashaw and his ensemble demonstrated the work's musical potential in a dedication concert, it has attracted neighborhood residents daily. Even without visitors, Sound Chamber's four wind harps and 360 chimes still emit an "unearthly" music in the presence of wind. -- Elizabeth Broadrup

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