I'm singing The music goes round and around and it comes out here. (Recorded by Tommy Dorsey)
Can I spot the instrument? Yes and no. On the far left side of the photograph is a person sleeping on the steps and a photographically amputated leg. Just behind them on the step riser are little tiny rectangles. Those are air intake holes that work in conjunction with the tubes under the steps and a resonating cavity. The wave action and the air work together to make the music. The music comes out of holes in the top step, which I cant see.
N. B. Yes, I am sometimes haunted by tubas myself. I'd like to get help, but I can't find a psychiartrist who is also a musician. - Q. Gen.
It would be interesting to know how Nikola Basic came up with the idea.
Daniel E. Jolley
Since the picture is not of very high resolution, I figured the only logical instrument would be the steps using the sea. Googled Google images for "musical steps seaside". Saw a picture of the sames steps which directed me to a page on Pinterest. The brief explanation of how the musical steps worked.
My first thought was that the steps might be a keyboard of some sort, but that seemed unnecessarily complicated. Started to Google "sea powered instrument" got as far as "sea powered" when the choice of "sea organ" appeared, and that was that.
You would love Croatia. I visited in mid-September several years ago. Zadar is a medium-sized town with several interesting churches and a city gate with the Venetian lion, but by far the best feature is the Sea Organ. My husband and I spent one warm evening sitting there watching the ships going in and out of the harbor and listening to those deep soothing tones. Strangely, even when you are sitting near the air inlets, the sound the organ makes seems to come from far away.
I’m sure many ancient peoples had instruments like this. Probably not on such a grand scale and probably not with concrete.
Have you looked at other musical structures? I found the Regenwasserspiel of Dresden and the Singing Ringing Tree of Burnley intriguing.
N.B. The Singing Ringing Tree was my back-up for this week's quiz. Thanks for bringing that up. The Regenwasserspiel is also fascinating! - Q Gen.
There are several YouTube clips of it where you can hear what it sounds like. I dunno, I think I might find it kind of annoying. Do you know the term for music that doesn't repeat (like you hear in acupuncturists/offices)?
Jerry wants to go to Croatia, too. I hear parts of it look like Big Sur.
You're guilty of me having a huge increase in my "must visit" bucket list. I need to finish my opera or launch my breakthrough invention and become a billionaire now. Speaking of which, another magical man made music place that I badly wish to visit (no, it's not a quiz suggestion) is attached.
I have a friend who vacationed in Croatia last fall - the photos were beautiful; however, he did not go to Zadar. I wrote to him just after the quiz to see.
It really is an interesting instrument! In essence it is played by Mother Nature. Really neat!
No idea why the Greeks and Romans didn't come up with something similar, maybe they were too busy fighting. Visions of Spartans and Centurions come to mind - too busy to stop and hear the music maybe? :)
Never thought about visiting Croatia until recently, but it is a place I too would like to visit. I believe Nikola Tesla was born there.
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1. The steps are part of a Sea Organ.
2. Zadar, Croatia
3. The waves push air through the tubes and musical chords sound.
How Ida Solved the Puzzle
I think I cheated in this one, since the answer to the quiz was in the questions themselves. Googled "musical instrument in beach steps" and an image similar to this one appeared on top, that took me to a site that held all the answers, a few picture, and tons of info in this unique Sea Organ : www.oddmusic.com/gallery/om24550.html
I remember, when I was a kid, that my uncle and wife had gone to Yugoslavia (as called then) and how surprised I was to see in the video that the beach was cemented, and the pic took me to those images rightaway. Don't know if it's the same beach, since the organ was only built in 2005 or if, in general, beaches in the Balkans are all sandless.
Went through a few videos and this one was particularily interesting: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBhk5KFwLVc It also explains that the Sea Organ is not only a musical instrument, it also saves the energy, which is used to create a light "salute to the sun" at dusk every day.
I could hear a very prominent G in the sound, and, when looking at the pitches used for the pipes, it clearly leads to it, since most of it has G and its "friends" (Ds and Bs mostly, with also Es and As, forming the G pentatonic scale). So I wouldn't call it totally "random" but a random selection of sounds and times in the G pentatonic scale, which will sound a little bit oriental (note, in Eastern Europe, the B is called h, they use B for the b flat).
The Wave Organ is a wave-activated acoustic sculpture located on a jetty in the San Francisco Bay. The concept was developed by Peter Richards and was installed in collaboration with sculptor and master stone mason George Gonzales. Inspiration for the piece came from artist Bill Fontana’s recordings made of sounds emanating from a vent pipe of a floating concrete dock in Sydney, Australia.
In 1980, Richards (a Senior Artist at the Exploratorium for many years) received a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that enabled him to conduct an extensive period of investigation into the physicality of the Wave Organ phenomenon.
A prototype, built at the same location, was presented as part of the New Music ’81 Festival. Though very rudimentary in nature, it generated enthusiasm and support for a permanent work. Permit acquisition and fundraising efforts by Frank Oppenheimer, Founding Director of the Exploratorium, began soon after, but actual construction did not start until September 1985, seven months after Oppenheimer’s death. The Wave Organ was completed in May 1986 and was dedicated in June to the memory of Frank Oppenheimer.
The Wave Organ is located on a jetty that forms the small Boat Harbor in the Marina district of San Francisco. The jetty itself was constructed with material taken from a demolished cemetery, providing a wonderful assortment of carved granite and marble, which was used in the construction of this piece. The installation includes 25 organ pipes made of PVC and concrete located at various elevations within the site, allowing for the rise and fall of the tides. Sound is created by the impact of waves against the pipe ends and the subsequent movement of the water in and out of the pipes. The sound heard at the site is subtle, requiring visitors to become sensitized to its music, and at the same time to the music of the environment. The Wave Organ sounds best at high tide.
The musical Sea Organ (morske orgulje) is located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, and is the world’s first musical pipe organs that is played by the sea. Simple and elegant steps, carved in white stone, were built on the quayside. Underneath, there are 35 musically tuned tubes with whistle openings on the sidewalk. The movement of the sea pushes air through, and – depending on the size and velocity
of the wave – musical chords are played. The waves create random harmonic sounds.
This masterpiece of acoustics and architecture was created by expert Dalmatian stone carvers and architect Nikola Basic in 2005, who recently received the fourth ex-aequo European Prize for Urban Public Space for this project. Many tourists come to listen to this unique aerophone, and enjoy unforgettable sunsets with a view of nearby islands. Famed director Alfred Hitchcock said that the most beautiful sunset in the world can be seen from precisely this spot on the Zadar quay. That was how he described it after his visit to Zadar, a visit he remembered throughout his life by the meeting of the sinking sun and the sea.
The Sea Organ (morske orgulje) is is a natural musical instrument, seventy meters long with thirty-five organ pipes built under the concrete. The musical pipes are located so that the sea water and wind movements produce musical sounds that are heard by passers by so that it achieves a communication with nature and promotes a unity of architecture and environment. As sea forces and energies are unpredictable in terms of tides and winds, this organ offers never-ending concert of numerous musical variations in which the performer is nature itself.
Thanks to the Sea Organ music project, the inhabitants of Zadar have been restored once more to their relation with the sea. Chaotic reconstruction work undertaken in an
attempt to repair the devastation Zadar suffered in the World War II turned much of the sea front into an unbroken, monotonous concrete wall. Now, the inviting white marble steps lead down to the water. Concealed under these steps, which both protect and invite, is a system of polyethylene tubes and a resonating cavity that turns the site into a huge musical instrument, played by the wind and the sea.
Each musical organ pipe is blown
by a column of air, pushed in turn by a column of wave-moved water, through a plastic tube immersed into the water. The pipes' musically tuned sounds emanate to the surroundings through apertures in the vertical planes of the uppermost stairs. The 7 successive groups of musical tubes are alternately tuned to two musically cognate chords of the diatonic major scale. The outcome of played tones and/or chords is a function of random time and space distribution of the wave energy to particular organ pipes.
Air Holes along the top row of steps let the Sea Organ breathe in air to be transformed into musical sounds as the next wave plays its song. Below, the sound apertures are visible along the center of the walkway.
In this part of Croatia the prevailing musical tradition is the spontaneous four-voice male singing, with melodies and chords conforming to the diatonic major scale. The 5 musically tuned pipes of each section are arranged in 1.5 meter spacings. A listener, standing or sitting on a chosen point on the scalinade, should be able to hear 5 to 7 musically tuned pipes play their natural music. Thus, whole five-pipe sections are tuned to one musical chord. The citizens of Zadar are extremely proud of the first natural musical organ driven by the sea waves ever to be constructed. This installation, absolutely unique in the world, was designed to let people enjoy the point where the medieval town of Zadar embraces the Adriatic.
The hidden structure of the musical Sea Organ, and the tuning scheme, detailing the chords and musical notes played by the sea
Watch audio slide show of the Wave Organ. Click here.
The High Tide Organ is a tidal organ 15 metres (49 ft 3 in) tall constructed in 2002 as part of "The Great Promenade Show" series of sculptures situated along Blackpool's New Promenade in the UK. The artwork, described as a "musical manifestation of the sea", is one of a few examples of a tidal organ; others include the San Francisco Wave Organ and the Sea Organ in Croatia.
The sculpture was designed by the artists Liam Curtin and John Gooding, and was constructed in concrete, steel, zinc and copper sheet. The harnessing of wave energy, and the sculpting of the concrete and metals, is said to produce a unique interpretation of Blackpool's natural and man-made
The Singing Ringing Tree is a wind powered sound sculpture resembling a tree set in the landscape of the Pennine hill range overlooking Burnley, in Lancashire, England.
Completed in 2006, it is part of the series of four sculptures within the Panopticons arts and regeneration project created by the East Lancashire Environmental Arts Network (ELEAN). The project was set up to erect a series of 21st-century landmarks, or Panopticons (structures providing a comprehensive view), across East Lancashire as symbols of the renaissance of the area.
Designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu, the Singing Ringing Tree is a 3-metre tall construction comprising pipes of galvanised steel which harness the energy of the wind to produce a slightly discordant and penetrating choral sound covering a range of several octaves. Some of the pipes are primarily structural and aesthetic elements, while others have been cut across their width enabling the sound. The harmonic and singing qualities of the tree were produced by tuning the pipes according to their length by adding holes to the underside of each.
In 2007, the sculpture won (along with 13 other candidates) the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence.
environments. The instrument is played by the sea at high tide through eight pipes attached to the sea wall. These are connected under the promenade to 18 organ pipes within the sculpture. The swell of seawater at high tide pushes air up the sea-wall pipes and causes the organ pipes to sound. The best time to hear the High Tide Organ is two to three hours before or after high tide. On very calm days the organ is silent for part of its cycle. The pitches of the pipes are based on the harmonic series in B flat.
The High Tide Organ is one of a small group of musical instruments that operate without further human intervention, among which the aeolian harp and the wind chime are the most notable.