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PYRO WHISTLING COMPOSITION

Erik Hobijn


Pyro-acoustic whistling is done by blowing flame into steel tubes.
This organ uses gas burners as a vibration source, and long steel tubes as a sound box. The mostly low frequency tones occur when the gas burners are placed in the steel tubes. The length and diameter of the tubes and the diameter of the burners all modify the sound.

Sophisticated movement creates ranges of sound characters with the burners around the mouth of the steel tubes. With the correct technical adjustments, it is possible to create rhythmical explosions during the concert. The sound character is best described as "ambient".

By selecting medium fire, the boundaries of the musical spectrum are never absolute. The sound is influenced by many variables, therefore each concert is a singular event. The element of fire adds a recognisable character to the music. The soundscapes are a chemical process and are often named chemo-acoustics.

At this stage, a conductor and eight musicians perform the instrument. For the future, it is planed to have a midi interface and operated only by viewing musicians.

In contrast to my earlier (1989/95) instrument, the Dante Organ, which created rhythm, sound and image through the visual and physical impressive power of huge flame pillars, the Pyro-whistler enters the music world by creating low and soft frequency tones. This is from the fire hidden in the steel tubes. The very low tones, in some ranges barely perceptible, carry over enormous distance. It's like sending a space probe into the atmosphere. In some aspects, it resembles the sound aria of the communication between whales. These frequencies are strange; they can be sensed by the body, they carry over long distances, and at the same time, are sophisticated when you listen from very nearby. The experience of close range sound can be described as not just listening, but more as a kind of penetration into the human body. They go almost unnoticed, and detach an awareness of the low range theatre around us. I have often noticed that after practising with the organ, my hearing opened up towards the low sounds and I would hear them hours later, until my brain would starts it's filtering.

Human hearing is not sufficient; I suspect that the body could be used more as an absorbing instrument. The experiment is really about a body that is "hearing". Perception of music goes by more then one sense.

The search is not for perfection; the aim is neither to create an easy handling instrument that is gifted with clean tones, nor the creation of complete musical statements.

The combination of audio circumstances creating apparent musical accidents is interesting--this is the art of composing pyro-organic sounds. The instrument has to recall it's industrial roots--the industrial natural sounds made by the burners and the steel tubes. In this way, the technical domestication of fire turns into a musical instrument and starts it's own story.