Beating Tones and Flapping Wings

Collaborative project with Denise Hawrysio

Commission for the Cut and Splice Festival 2010 at Wilton's Music Hall, London

John Wynne

Flappping wings

This installation occupied two rooms at Wilton's Music Hall in London. Commissioned for the 2010 Cut and Splice Festival, it was made in collaboration with Denise Hawrysio.









In the last 500 years, the standard 'A' to which musicians tune their instruments has varied widely from 403Hz to 567Hz before settling at the currently agreed 440Hz. A precise 440Hz sine tone has been recorded onto 40 cassette tapes: when these are played back on machines of varying quality and age, the result is a chorus of tones clustered around 440Hz which interfere with each other to cause a pulsing phenomenon known as beat frequencies, the perception of which changes according to the position of the listener and the inconsistencies of tape speed.

The flying radios are inspired by the pigeons which no doubt inhabited Wilton’s Music Hall during its years of dereliction: one of the boom boxes is transmitting to the flying radios a set of Shepard Tones, the aural equivalent of an optical illusion which gives the impression of a tone which rises in pitch continuously, forever.




Sound Click for an interview with Rob Worby on Hear and Now, BBC Radio 3

Click image at left for a short movie of part of the installation



Click below for text and images from the Cut & Splice publication

... John Wynne‘s deft installation exploring the aural illusion known as the Shepard Phenomenon, as well as a book of interviews and essays edited by Sound Threshold‘s Daniela Cascella and Lucia Farinati and designed in the style of photocopied electronics manual, added to the impression of Cut & Splice as a celebration of inventiveness, interference and hands-on sonic practice, as well as a conduit for radio’s more mysterious qualities.

Frances Morgan, Frieze Magazine