magnitudes of tempered consonance
It takes effort to tame the sound of lightning.
Magnitudes of Tempered Consonance is an installation that allows participants to perform tuned "lightning" through audible, musically-tempered electrical flames. At the heart of the piece are two electrical spark-gap devices commonly referred to as Jacob's Ladders. When energized, each of these produces a visible and audible electrical spark that widens as it travels up the gap between the antennas. The devices are triggered by 16 ropes arranged in a semi-circle which hang from the ceiling of the installation's walk-in enclosure. Firmly pulling any of these ropes energizes the Jacob's Ladders, with each rope resulting in a flame that makes a sound at a different musical pitch.
The design of the hanging rope interface refers to the ropes used to ring church bells where players are required to physically exert themselves, moving from rope to rope in order to produce melodies by ringing differently pitched bells. The human energy required to play such instruments is psychologically proportional to the great magnitudes of energy that are released by the electrical arcs. Some participants even come to feel as if, by pulling the ropes, they are actually generating the electricity that is being released from the Jacob's Ladders. The installation can produce multiple simultaneous notes, allowing for chords or multiple players.
In this system, pure electricity is the transductive medium for musical sound. The electrical arcs are used in place of loudspeakers. This novel means of sound reproduction constitutes a departure from our expectations of an electronic musical device. Magnitudes of Tempered Consonance creates musical consonance through the tempering of great magnitudes of energy.