Glass sounds to me are probably one of the most amazing and mesmerizing natural sounds existent. Playing wine glasses requires a hard challenging training, during which you need to have the similar glasses, perhaps an immobile/stationary setup, and lots of patience. Even then, the sounds that are coming out are rarely balanced, or equal. Playing wine glasses (glass harp) has been a hobby of mine for years, but I’ve never had the chance to stay in one place, setup 20-24 glasses, and practice playing. It’s a hard thing, trying not to break the glasses, and orchestrating lots of glasses.
This lead my interest in designing a better wine-glass instrument. I wanted it to be relatively more portable, safer, accurate, and have less glasses. My goal was to make a PID-Loop controlled wine glass playing machine. The ideal design would accept midi inputs, and the user/player would plug a midi keyboard and play.
During my initial research I’ve seen a few inspiring instruments that could be related to Conversus Vitra, however none of them are closely related to it. So I’ve decided to build “it”. When it comes to the instrument’s site specificity, where to install or “play” my forthcoming instrument has been the biggest question in my mind for the past couple of months, and although research did help, nothing really changed the way I think about my decision.
Considering the background of the instrument I’m building – playing ordinary wine glasses are a thing of the past. It changes from continent to continent. While in England, more wine glasses were played in concert halls, in Italy street performers took the instrument further, cased the glasses, and it is still being played on the street. This has been bothering me a lot as I haven’t really started designing the new instrument with the venue/audience in mind. However after the readings, I’ve concluded that it is actually a hybrid instrument. It’s acoustic and electronic. Without the motors, servos and the pumps it’s impossible to get a sound. So I feel like the instrument doesn’t belong in a classical music “concert hall”. It’s too new for such venue. But at the same time – it’s a complete redesign of an already existing instrument being played in concert halls even nowadays. So it also belongs to concert halls as well. What I’ve decided is a venue that’s a hybrid of both. Not a new venue, but also a venue that’s technically well equipped to handle hybrid instruments. After searching for the best potential places in Pittsburgh, I’ve decided that Kresge hall is probably the best candidate. Not because it’s right next door and accessible – but because it’s been a home for noise musicians, electronic musicians, classical musicians, and experimental robotic musicians in the past as well. After checking out the previous performances’ videos from last year’s noise festival (videos listed below) I think Kresge Hall would be the best place to showcase the instrument. I think CMU is perhaps the best place for such concert as it’s a technical school with amazing musicians in it. I feel that with enough word-of-mouth and posters, better engagement is easily achievable.
In the event of its unavailability, or schedule conflicts – I will try alumni concert hall, for the sake of it being a concert hall, and worst case scenario, like the way people play their guitars on the beach, or in the new york city subway, I’ll have to take my instrument out of it’s potential comfort zone, and I’ll play it in the STUDIO, or somewhere else, where it’s not necessarily meant to be played. – Although I have to add that I’ve seen people play wine-glasses outside concert halls, I haven’t seen people play harp or timpani on the streets just yet. If I can’t get kresge, It’ll become a minor psychological problem for me.