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Type Instruments Experiencing type sanguine
Five musical instruments (MA RCA). 2006
This musical typography is an interactive tool to experience and enjoy type with eye, ear and touch. ′Type Instruments′
looks to advance our perception of language and type in context of progressing languages we use to communicate and
to transmit information.
I found the concept of graphic scores, popular the fifties and sixties, fascinating and understanding mosquitoes as flying hypodermic needles that transfer little bits of genetic code into your bloodstream is eye opening.
Each of the five musical Instruments represents the phonem of the letter it presents. I based ′Type-Instruments′ on the font
Univers by Adrian Frutiger, 1957.
My inspiration derived from the concept of graphic scores which became popular within the experimental and improvisational field of music in the fifties and sixties, promoting a much freer dialogue between composer and performer.
I find the beauty of a score like ′Treatise′ fascinating. It is beautiful and inspiring that such a score can be played by any number of musicians, with any instrument and over any timescale, and no performance will ever be the same. The musician is conscientious in his or her performance, but still free, not to improvise necessarily, but to interpret freely within the structure of the score and performance.
My research 1. In my desk research on the evolution of language and scriptsystems I looked at the beauty of the cavepaintings of Lacraux, Zigen, Latin, Hangul and the beauty of the DNA double helix. Understanding some ways we used to transmit information throughout history, how we manage to grow the complexity of information while simplifying our code to transmit it. (see also ′Genetic Communication′) 2. In my user workshop at the RCA Helen Hamlyn Centre I've learned from Iwa (6 months) and her dad that things that make sound are very exciting and prototypes sometimes a bit too rough.
The current set of ′Type-Instruments′ consists of five different musical instruments: ′letter A′ a string instrument, ′letter T′
a percussion instrument, ′letter O′ percussion instruments, ′letter L′ a percussion instrument
The tuning system: In the process of building the instruments are started working with Annabel Johnston, a composer trained
at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She is the mastermind behind the tuning of the instruments.
The ′A-harp tuning system′ is orientated around the physical construct of the ′A-harp′. The pitch of A outlines the type shape
and acts as a physical reference point to the surrounding system. A is voiced at different octaves depending on string length.
The Tuning system is a composition of vertical, horizontal, and ornamental componants shaped by string direction and grouping.
The Aeolian mode underpins the modality of the vertical scordatura, coloured by small chromatic variations and diagonal transpositions. The related dorian mode adds a different shade to the horizontal scordatura and is continued in the ornamental scodatura.
The dorian mode (rooted on G) also corresponds to the three sounding pitches of the O percussion instrument.
Six foldable posters booklets - Inspiration, Research, Letter A, Letter T, Letter O, Letter L - are documenting the process. The booklets unfold to A3 format posters with each one posterimage on the front and details of that process phase on the back.
Live performance at the Private View of ′Generation′ The Royal College of Art Summer Show 2006. The piece performed was composed and improvised by Annabel Johnson (composer), playing the A, and Chris McComish (drumer), playing the percussion-set T, O, O, L. Duration: 15min; performances 6pm and 8pm
Followed by the audience and visitors interacting and playing the ′Type-Intsruments′.
Award: Finalist ′Design for our Future Selves Award 2006′ Helen Hamlyn Centre, London, UK
Materials: wood (walnut), harpstrings, tuning pins, bras metal, aluminium. steel
Expert advice: Annabel Johnson, composer / instrument builders in UK and USA / Wood- and metal - Workshops
at the Royal College of Art