Thursday, 8 April 2010

Alvin Lucier 'Music on a long thin wire' re-construction

Hi all,

I'm looking at getting the construction of this piece started next Wednesday night (14th April) and finished in time for the evening of the 22nd April for a performance.

In basic terms, the piece consists of a long wire (about 20-30feet in this case) stretched tautly across a room with an electronic drone note driving it, causing visual waves on the wire and a "complexity of evocative, ethereal chords".

Anyone interested is welcome to get involved with this. The first session will probably involve more of the construction and set-up side of things. Once this is done, we can start playing with different frequencies and volume levels, and observing the effects visually on the wire and audibly in the space, which should be really interesting.

The piece consists of:
  • A long piece of piano wire (generously donated by Paul at The Piano Shop in Holbeck)
  • Piano tuning pegs (also donated by Paul)
  • A large magnet (to be contributed by Daniel)
  • *Two wooden sound boxes - wood to be sourced, each about 60x30x10 cm, thin plywood top and bottom, hard wood sides and ends (anyone have any sheets and strips of wood knocking around?)
  • Two tables (Festival of passtimes tables?)
  • *Four G-clamps (anyone?)
  • A power amp (Stu)
  • An oscillator (Stu)
  • Two contact microphones (Stu)
  • A small PA system (Stu)
And to reiterate, we've been granted Alvin Lucier's permission to construct and perform this piece:

"Dear Stuart, Yes by all means go ahead an install WIRE. And good luck!

Cordially, Alvin Lucier"

Here's a good interview where Lucier talks about his experience of the piece:

And a more technical overview:



  1. Stu this sounds so good. I'll try to come on Wednesday after work if poss. Curious to see how we'd go about setting it up! xm

  2. Hey Stu
    Don't we still have a couple of sheets of oak MDF kicking about at home? You can use that if you can find it.
    Luce x

  3. you're more than welcome to use the FoP tables ja.i think Dave Ronalds is your best best for being a G-Clamp man; or perhaps Steve Allbutt!

  4. I might have a couple of speed clamps in the garage - but not sure until I've rummaged through it a bit. I'll try and have a look later.

  5. Thanks for the responses, it's taking shape, I can borrow some G-clamps from Lumen as it turns out. Are speed clamps better though Dave? They sound better.

    Just missing a sheet of thinner plywood for the tops of the sound boxes - 2 pieces about 5-7mm thick and 2x1 feet in area, to mix in a bit of imperial. There's a bit at my house that i've been eyeing up, but it's currently attached to a piece of furniture. It's an option though!

    Meeting Daniel - who it turns out has had parts to make this piece for a few years but hasn't found anywhere to do so - at about 6pm on Wednesday night to get started. As i've said, i don't know how far we'll get but it should be interesting.

  6. Daniel and I made some good progress with this last night, though we need a thinner wire to really get it going. The length that we have was too heavy to give the visual waves and associated sweeping variations in sound. What we had sounded lovely but didn't change much!

    We're re-convening on Sunday daytime to have another go. It looks like the best set up is above head height between the roof of the shed and one of the sticking-out wooden beam ends where the Tower Works paper mock-ups are sitting. This would help visually - it didn't look particularly elegant set up at knee height between the tables - and permit easy wandering/sitting beneath the wire. It would also make fuller use of the space and hopefully make the shed resonate in some kind of musical fashion.

    So, that's the plan, and hopefully it'll spring into life this time!


  7. And of course, anyone is welcome to come and join in! Let me know if you're interested and I'll keep you in the loop when we figure a meeting time out


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