“Reed, Whistle and Sticks”

“Reed, Whistle & Sticks” was composed in 1971. Initially I wanted to explore the idea of objects falling endlessly, of randomness and of pattern recognition in sound. A handful of short bamboo sticks dropped slowly onto a mixed surface of metal, wood, plastic, glass and cloth was recorded, looped and played back as a continuous stream.

Few things in Nature fall continuously; the sticks sound as if they ought to stop falling. If you listen carefully to a repeating loop of randomly changing, apparently chaotic, continuous sound, the brain begins to recognise identical returning patterns within the noise, before you consciously realise that the information is being cycled. This results in a kind of subconscious apprehension of structure from memories you didn’t know you had.

A falsetto keening, along with bell strikes marking changes in the playback speed of the loop, overblown penny whistles and loud cries, accompany the sound of the falling sticks in the original recording of the experiment.

Here is an audio excerpt of the original

And here is a video of a live performance that took place in 2015 at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne…

In this performance (which starts off sounding remarkably similar to the 1971 recording) the Therapeutische Hörgruppe Köln have simulated the keening falsetto with a slide-whistle and added the dramatic gesture of slapping the floor with rubber, kitchen gloves.

“Reeds, Whistles, Sticks, and Slaps”

Therapeutische Hörgruppe Köln is a media- and soundartist- collective, founded in 2008. Its members are Tobias Beck, Tobias Grewenig, Volker Hennes, Svann E. Langguth and Dirk Specht.

On the occasion of the live-performance of “Reeds, Whistles, Sticks and Slaps“ on 30.01.2015 Therapeutische Hörgruppe Köln was represented by Volker Hennes, Tobias Grewenig, Dirk Specht.