Tanpura Study #2 (sa, ma, pa in C#) (2014)

Pepperhouse Studios,
Kochi, Kerala, India
July 2014 (Kochi Artist in Residency)

found ceramic pots, wiring, lights, speakers, cotton, television, DVD with sound

This work was installed as part of an exhibition at the culmination of the Kochi Artist-in-Residency program at Pepperhouse Studios in Kochi, India (KOCHI A.I.R/Pepperhouse Residency). Fellow artists from Australia Meagan Streader and Michael Candy exhibited works in the adjacent warehouse spaces within the Pepperhouse grounds. Predominantly a sound-based work, it was installed during the months leading up the second Kochi-Muzuris Biennale. The following text was mounted in the space as accompanying information.

“Tanpura Study #2 (sa, ma and pa in C#) is a spatial musical exploration of the Indian classical instrument, the tanpura. Three separate recordings of a tanpura playing the notes shadja, madhyam and pancham in the sargam system of Indian classical (do, fa and so in the European solfège system) and in C# have been taken and then paired with three pure sine wave tones of identical frequencies. The six recordings are looped endlessly through speakers contained within each of the locally-sourced ceramic pots, which act as resonating chambers. As each recording is of a slightly different length, the tones, all played simultaneously, create a form of generative music - music made autonomously by the interaction of different elements within a system. The ways in which the frequencies mix in the room relative to the air pressure and the placement of the listener create an explorative sonic environment, as the listener is free to interact with the timbre and surface of the tanpura as it is juxtaposed with the sounds of the sine waves – the basis of all sound.

In the centre of the room, a monitor is playing slow pulsations of the sine bass tone of 69.3hz, or C# - the tonic, or shruti as it is spoken of the Carnatic tradition. The inclusion of this tone is intended to reflect the rich emphasis and complexity that shruti is given in Indian Classical, and also to hopefully evoke something akin to Nāda yoga, or sound yoga, and it’s goal to achieve a union with anahata - the inner sound of the heart.

Viewers/listeners are encouraged to move around the space and listen to the sound from different vantage points, hopefully noticing how the sound changes. You are also encouraged to sing along with the sounds if that is your desire.”

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