Bryan Jacobs music composition and sound art

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instrument building / sound art

Phatic Expression: A Mechanical Sound Sculpture

date created: 2015
materials: wood, acrylic, slidewhistles, servo motors, arduino

Phatic Expression is a new media sound sculpture consisting of four mechanically-controlled slide whistles that are played by a mechanical lung. They are arranged in two pairs, each set working together in reaction to the other. Their choreographed movements are controlled by a small microprocessor embedded in the sculpture.

The sound and visual elements of the piece suggest that we might be watching a dialogue or conversation underway. At other times the sounds seem to be musically oriented. This piece is partly inspired by linguistic research suggesting melodic patterns such as simple sine wave contours are enough to convey linguistic messages. To me, this research highlights interesting connections between speech and music.

In Phatic Expression a variety of distinct sound textures are algorithmically generated in real-time as to not have exact repetition of individual events or sequence of events. The instrument/sculptureā€™s state oscillates between sparse and dense textures that utilize its mechanical nature to create precise hockets and uncanny synchronizations. The sounds of the motors are also as part of the sonic vocabulary.

This piece, like much of my recent work, explores the boundary between time-based musical composition, and non-time-based sound installation. Materials: wood, acrylic, motors, and electronics

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