Radical glass music round up

01 ASUNA+Minoru Sato

‘Superposing Five Harmonic States’ (38:04)
From ‘Texture In Glass Tubes and Reed Organ’ CD, Spekk 2007

02 Orbes (Sophie Durand+Manu Holterbach)

‘Au Rivage Des Voix Mortes’ (16:34)
Live Les Voûtes, Paris, April 6, 2003
From the Cloud Of Statics CD ”Verres Enharmoniques: Un’, 2006

03 Nicole Reisnour

‘Night in August (’99)’ (53:38)
From The Somnambutone show on free103point9 Online Radio
Broadcasted April 30, 2007

Total time: 1h48′

. . . . . . . . . .

In 1974 you were rumored to be following up Dark Side Of The Moon with an album played entirely on household objects. How far did you get?
David Gilmour: We did spend a lot of time with rubber bands stretched over matchboxes. All we got out of it was probably a sixteen-track tape with tuned wine glasses. Wetted finger. Wine glass. All tuned up. Then you’d tune it up to a semitone higher. We used it for the opening of the Wish You Were Here album. It’s a lovely sound. [from interview]

During the dinner the band tuned up wine glasses and played the intro to Shine On You Crazy Diamond (it was originally done with wine glasses at Abbey Road studios!). David was dared to use the glasses at the following night’s concert in Munich! Which he did for the rest of the tour! [from a Gilmour’s fan website]

As soon as Benjamin Franklin completed his glass harmonica in 1761, he went on tour demonstrating the instrument all over Europe. Mozart was eventually requested to compose for it in 1791, hence launching an endless series of composers writing for the latest technological achievements of the day – the mid-18th c. automatons and mechanical instruments music being the actual birth of industrial music as we know it. The scientist and magnetism specialist Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) even used the glass harp to put his subjects into hypnotic trance. But composers loved it. From the glass harmonica to the Harry Partch’s Cloud Chamber Bowls ; from the Cristal Bachet to . . . er, Pink Floyd, composers have been drawned to the purity of glass sounds. This is a selection from 21st century retakes on glass music. Warning: no Christmas carols here, but rather uncompromizing drone music – this is what a continuo is made of, after all!

. . . . . . . . . .

Japanese Minoru Sato & ASUNA (Naoyuki Arashi) recorded 5 different tracks of harmonium (a reed organ), the sustained notes recorded into a specific glass tube like the one pictured at the top of this post – the glass tube adding its own frequency and harmonics to the organ notes. Their composing method is pure minimalism, since each track starts 1 minute after the previous one (according to diagram above), slowly building an impressive, resplendent organ drone. [You might want to check their radical‘Valve/Membrance’ video on youtube and an interesting documentary on Archive.org.]

. . . . . . . . . .

French duo Orbes devised their own system of tuned wine glasses, with added water pumping under the table allowing them to alter the ringing pitch with their feet. Their clear and refined sonorities have a decidedly french flavor, not unlike harpsichord composer Louis Couperin. You know, ‘Les Folies Françaises’!

. . . . . . . . . .

There’s still plenty of good music to be made with ordinary tuned wine glasses, though. Nicole Reisnour created this gorgeous piece for a radio program called The Somnambutone whose motto is to ‘broadcast sounds to accompany dreams’. American pianist and gamelanist Reisnour studied at Mills College with teachers like Fred Frith, Annie Gosfield, Alvin Curran and James Tenney. She is a microtonal composer as well, with works for string quartet and chamber orchestra. ‘Night in August (’99)’ is an enchanting work for several wine glasses (my guess is 6) probably with the use of rerecording. It is build on ascending and descending scales and micro-intervals, with a mesmerizing effect on this listener. This is eventful music, not static droning, each new sound adding its exquisite magic to the ringing tones. [Picture above shows a polish Glass Duo member. I wasn’t that excited about Reisnour’s picture on her myspace page]

Download (146Mb) via Megaupload or Send Large File.

5 Responses to “Radical glass music round up”

  1. 1 fmass April 16, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    nice one
    FM london

  2. 2 H.C.Earwicker April 17, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Hi, Tony. Awesome music, especially the second piece. Thanks a lot!

  3. 3 eyevocal June 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Are you at all familiar with Canada’s own Glass Orchestra? Here’s a blog post I found with their first album:


  4. 4 continuo June 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    You’re a genius!!!

  5. 5 Cal August 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Please re-up this series. Thanks in advance.

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