When artist David McConnell goes to the symphony, his favorite part happens before the performance–the tuning of the orchestra. There’s just something visceral about it, he said. The musicians don’t worry about being in sequence or in harmony.
“It’s kind of like an accident,” he said, “a really beautiful accident.”
The Raleigh-based artist spent last weekend in a recording studio filled with hundreds of antique instruments in downtown Asheville, N.C. He tuned about a dozen instruments, including guitars and drums, and recorded each process like a song. The sounds will be part of the score for an installation (working title, “Phonosymphonic Sun”) that David has been working on for the past couple of years. The work will be part of the exhibition, “The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl,” opening Sept. 2, 2010, at the Nasher Museum.
David’s score will become a sort of symphony played on six different phonographs, which the artist took apart and put back together vertically. Some of the sounds will be “sonic artifacts” from the environment, he said. He’ll also sample records, including vintage bird call albums, lectures and a series of percussive recordings from the ’50s. And he’ll record several symphonies tuning up as part of the piece.
His favorite experience last weekend, he said, was finding out what a piano sounds like when he wrapped the strings in tinfoil. “It sounds like an organic fuzz pedal, a four-dollar fuzz pedal.”
IMAGE: David McConnell in the recording studio. Photo by David Colagiovanni.