Instruments make music, but how? Can other objects produce music or, at least, generate sounds akin to how a shell seems to echo the ocean when held to your ear?
In 2019, British artist Oliver Beer placed microphones in 32 sculptures from The Met. He chose these artifacts—utilitarian pots and jars, ornamental busts and vases, and contemporary pieces, all with diverse histories across cultures and periods—because they could each ‘sing’ one of 32 consecutive notes.
Beer called the project Vessel Orchestra.
Suddenly, these hollow objects, previously inanimate in the museum’s collection, could take on a new life as they harmonized. Beer simply amplified and shaped “the ambient tones resonating within each vessel, transforming them into an arresting and unexpectedly versatile musical instrument.”
Then get hands-on with this corresponding art and science activity: “Make a musical instrument and a special tool to discover what sound looks like.”
“Using everyday ingredients and tools from your kitchen cabinet, embark on a hands-on process that prompts you to ask questions, mix compounds, and analyze materials like a scientist at the Museum.”
And after that, explore Chladni patterns and more sound on TKSST, including these selected videos:
• Making sounds visible: Sound vibrations transform colorful sand patterns
• Chladni Plate: Sand Vibration Patterns
• Sound is a vibration, a demonstration
• The Science of Hearing
• Odyssey of the Ear, an animated tale of sound
• The Science Behind String Telephones