Who knew drinking water infrastructure could sound beautiful?
April 22, 2017 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Jordan Nobles won the 2017 Juno Award for Classical Composition for a work written for, and recorded in, a massive and empty underground water tank at the new Seymour Capilano filtration project in North Vancouver, BC. "Normally you hit a bass drum and get a boom sound. But down there you'd get the boom sound for 30 seconds. That's really fun," Nobles said.

The Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant, the largest of its kind in Canada, now treats up to 1.8 billion litres of water per day from both the Seymour and Capilano watersheds. Metro Vancouver has much more information, and a documentary, about the project.

Post title from Metro News.
posted by Banknote of the year (14 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
We have a musical water tank in Colorado, too!

It's been around for a really long time, apparently, but has only recently gone all legit as The TANK Center for Sonic Arts.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:19 AM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a long, wonderful tradition of making music like this - check out Pauline Oliveros, and others, in this radio episode from WNYC.
posted by twsf at 10:23 AM on April 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

David Byrne played the actual building in an art installation in 2009, pretty cool as well.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:26 AM on April 22, 2017

I went to community college with Jordan in the early '90s. I premiered his flute and piano piece.

As for ambient pieces in large buildings- there's always Paul Horn at Taj Mahal!
posted by cherryflute at 10:41 AM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey, I know Jordan. Or knew him and some of the other Red Shift performers when I used to visit Vancouver regularly a while back. They are all really wonderful people, and deserve all the notice they get. Vancouver has an excellent modern classical/art music/new music scene, with Jordan and Red Shift just being one small, but quite good, part of it.

This sort of site specific work is something that Jordan has done a good deal of since I've been aware of his work. The Red Shift youtube page has a couple others I actually might like even better than this one. (Though I didn't see any of them live, which is kinda the point with site specific works.) Surface Tension performed at the Vancouver Aquatic Center, and Grace performed around Trout Lake at John Hendry Park.

There's also an excerpt of Aeriosa performing a vertical dance on the walls of the Vancouver Library back in 2010 for the Cultural Olympiad. Jordan's music alternates with music by my favorite Canuck composer, Jocelyn Morlock. (Sorry Jordan, but it is an honest bias on my part.)
posted by gusottertrout at 10:51 AM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

A group of us spent an evening last September singing for hours in the storm drains under Oakland, all headlamps off so as to enjoy the pitch black darkness and experience a heightened sense of the acoustics. These spaces are an amazing musical experience:

Storm drain acoustics and a cover of Nick Cave's Hallelujah
posted by girl Mark at 11:12 AM on April 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

Ten years or so ago I visited San Francisco. One of the things I'm so glad I did was walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and up to Hawk Hill in the Marin headlands. The site has big tunnels that were used during WWII to move ammunition from storage to anti-aircraft guns mounted at the peak of the hill. As I passed one of the tunnels, I heard these amazing sounds coming out of it. It turned out to be a woman who had a bit of a career singing in big echo-y places - churches, tunnels, etc. She said she often came up there to practice. We had a nice chat before I continued my explorations and left her to carry on with her music. The whole day was pretty magical, but that was the icing on the cake.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 AM on April 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


For the initial forest flyover scenes of the Capilano Breakhead Tank video, I couldn't help seeing (and hearing) an underlay of brilliant fall-yellow aspens and Symphonie Fantastique.
posted by jamjam at 11:27 AM on April 22, 2017

Also: Montreal's silophone, conceived in 2000 by some McGill architecture students to exploit the acoustics of the revered (Le Corbusier talked about them in his 1923 book Vers une architecture) Redpath flour silos facing the old port.
posted by Flashman at 12:59 PM on April 22, 2017

I paid a visit to the Teufelsberg radomes last year during a stopover in Berlin, along with a fellow public radio producer who'd recently moved back there. We climbed all the way up to the top radome and found the most phenomenal slapback echo I've ever encountered (headphones encouraged). The place is crawling with tourists nowadays, but I can only imagine being able to spend enough time up there to perform and record an original piece of music. (You'd need to do it in 5:1, though.)
posted by mykescipark at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2017

I can only imagine being able to spend enough time up there to perform and record an original piece of music.

Next best thing:
Teufelsberg impulse response
posted by atoxyl at 2:01 PM on April 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kinda reminds me of this, recorded in an empty grain silo.
posted by xedrik at 6:59 PM on April 22, 2017

When I worked at Teufelsburg in the late 1970's I spent many a midshift crawling the radomes. They had a property that worked kind of like those old Bell telephone whispering booths that were set up in science museums: You could be up on the dish or on the other side of it, and hear other people's conversations clearly no matter how sotto voce. It was also a heck of a thing to be up there during a thunderstorm or a blustery windy night when the fiberglass panels would oilcan and resonate. I lack adequate words to describe just how weird and otherworldly that could be.

When the weather was nice enough (the domes weren't heated or air-conditioned) I made it a habit to drop something or make noise when entering the domes, because of an incident when I walked in on a couple of soldiers in flagrante, so to speak. The domes were dimly lit unless the maintenance lighting on the dishes was on- I seen to remember that the normal lighting inside was 3 60 or 100 watt bulbs on the periphery, about 8 or 10 feet up from the floor.

There was a central elevator shaft in the riser to the top dome, surrounded on 3 sides by a concrete staircase. I can remember riding up to the 4th floor and getting out to the main roof area on nice nights to smoke a cigarette and watch the city in the distance. This is what the place looked like when I was there

posted by pjern at 11:04 PM on April 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

There was a cool post about Inchindown a while back as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:34 AM on April 23, 2017

« Older "Hello land dog, I am water dog."   |   baby llama hums a tune hums a tune tune Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments