From project: New York-New York.


A set of two flexidiscs (see editions), two recordings of John Philip Sousa’s march The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896); three minutes of the highest frequencies detected on Sousa’s march are on one record, the lowest frequencies of the same march are on the other.


On December 1, 1990 at Galleria Victoria Miro, Florence, Italy, a specially constructed brass gramophone played the first disc of the low frequency recording to an installation of the New York Ten. The gramophone was specially geared to rotate the disc at 3 1/3 rpm, increasing its duration to thirty minutes.

On the same day, nearly two thousand miles away in Reykjavik, Iceland, an almost identical instrument (made from aluminum), played the Sousa march in high frequency to a geothermal power station. Iceland’s geology has coexistent extreme heat (in the form of volcanos and hot springs or geysers) and extreme cold (as a result of its latitude).


These two polarities are the sole source of energy powering the aluminum gramophone. The Seebeck effect is a phenomenon in which a temperature difference between two dissimilar electrical conductors produces a voltage difference between the two substances. See films, New York Low in Iceland.



From project: New York-New York.


An original four-valve Sousaphone is mounted onto a delicate clockwork phonograph mechanism which plays 78 rpm recordings of the "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (duration 3'22"). The turntable and horn complete one revolution, in relation to their base, during each side played.



Forty-eight LP records, or Influence Isolators, bear 480 tracks divided into categories (popular tunes, natural or industrial sounds, historical voices and operatic voices). Examples include:

Track 1: Popular Tunes: Infrastructure High, 1925; Duke Ellington, Jungle Nights in Harlem. (duration: 1'37")

Track 2: Popular Tunes: Inhabitants Low, 1929; Irving Berlin: Puttin’ on the Ritz. (duration: 0'53")

Track 3: Natural Sounds High: Manhattan blizzard, December 27, 1947, recording 21 inches of snow. (duration: 3'04")

Track 4: Industrial Sounds Low: Last use of pneumatic tube message system at 55 Wall Street, Merchant’s Exchange, 1953. (duration: 0'09")

Track 5: Historic Voice: Infrastructure High, Mitchel Bomber plane flies into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, July 28, 1945. (duration: 2'54")

Track 6: Historic Voice: Inhabitants Low: Charles Lindbergh’s tickertape parade on Wall Street, June 13, 1927. (duration: 1'09")

Track 7: Operatic Voice High, high frequency, Amelia Galli-Curci, “Sempre Libera,” La Traviata, Metropolitan Opera, New York, 14 November 1921, Giuseppe Verdi, conductor Roberto Moranzoni. (duration: 0'43")

Track 8: Operatic Voice Low: low frequency, Friedrich Schorr, “Ha! Welch’ ein Augenblick,” Fidelio, Metropolitan Opera, New York, 29 January, 1930, Ludwig van Beethoven, conductor Artur Bodanzky. (duration: 0'58")


The first six phonographic discs have popular tunes about Manhattan, evoking areas of human endeavor, such as Manhattan’s architecture, six more disc in this category have emotional descriptions of the city’s inhabitants and their lives. The second category uses industrial (six discs) and natural (six discs) sounds that have vanished from New York City during the last sixty years. The third set (six discs) comprises historic voices describing the city through news, film, poetry, and political speeches to convey two distinct appreciations of the city. The fourth set uses soprano voices with the highest vocal frequency sung at the Metropolitan Opera (six discs) and the lowest vocal frequency sung at the same institution (six discs).


One high and one low recording were selected from each decade from the 1920s to the 1970s. All recordings, mastered on the discs in chronological sequence, are indexed in the Chart of Lost Sounds.


The forty-eight records housed in the Record Vitrine are the products of a compendious research program. The original archival recordings were copied via a brass transfer phonograph using a French horn as the voice box. (See projects, French Horn Gramophone, New York–New York). A specially machined conical microphone recorded the chosen sounds onto magnetic tape. These tapes facilitated the production of two sets of records. The first set was labeled and each disc received twenty-four stamped aluminum conductors adhered to its front face—rendering all unplayable. The identical second set has been produced as a limited edition of twenty-four pairs, each pair consisting of one high and one low disc. The tapes used to produce the discs will be spliced to form the soundtrack to the sixty-hour documentary film of New York New York’s performance. This film will be one continuous roll on a single gigantic spool to be screened by a specially constructed projector. Five intermissions at ten-hour intervals will allow for rest. The film will record all aspects of New York New York’s performance.











Narration and collected sound effects from the film Equestrian Opulators at the House of Approximate Odds.



Paul Lincke’s Das ist die Berliner Luft!/It’s Because of the Berlin Air! was transcribed into 4/4 tango rhythm for four accordions; performed and arranged by Walter Kuhr, second accordion Tino Derado.


A large female bear, a symbol of Berlin since 1280, stands on a Corinthian column, modeled on those at the Reichstag. This column, wound with copper tubing around its base, serves as an elaborate antenna, one attuned to receive a particular frequency, that of a radio station specializing in tango music. The bear is excited by a single song Das ist die Berliner Luft!; on hearing this popular song, the bear is milked by an automated goat-milking machine attached to her teats, and the milk is pumped into an adjacent milk churn where sugar is extracted from the milk in two prismatic chambers. See projects Die Berliner Zuckerbärin.

UNDINE'S CURSE, 2007, duration 3’32”


The film score, adapted from Claudio Monteverdi’s “Di misera Regina” Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria, (duration: 3'34") was arranged and recorded by Walter Kuhr for accordion and sung by the soprano Nicole Renard in the Grotto Verde, Pradis, Italy.


Giacomo Badoaro’s libretto for Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria (c. 1639) used Homer’s Odyssey as a basis. The opera combines early traditions of subject matter and the spirit of declamatory music with new dramatic and musical ideas. In its scenic and musical richness, it represents a beginning and an end. The section used to activate Hyperbaric–Hypobaric, is scene 1, act 1, the final verse of Penelope, singing “Di misera regina non terminati mai dolenti affani!” (Miserable Queen, sorrow and trouble never end!); Penelope, one of the first tragic heroines in the history of opera, expresses herself almost exclusively in recitative verse. Nicole Renard, wearing a dress of mother of pearl scales, carries a specially constructed transparent accordion; she plays this instrument to initiate the flow of air—a metaphor for thought transfer. A highly structured film accompanies the installation.

GYÖRGY LIGETI’S ATMOSPHÈRES, 2007, duration 7’25”


Ligeti’s Atmosphères, a key piece in his oeuvre, was adapted and arranged for accordion for Hyperbaric–Hypobaric by William Schimel. Of the four elements of music (melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre), the piece almost completely abandons the first three, concentrating on texture, a technique known as “sound mass.” It opens with one of the largest cluster chords ever written, every note in the chromatic scale over a range of five octaves is played at once. In an orchestra of 56 strings ushering in the first chord, not one plays the same note.


Ligeti coined the term “micropolyphony” for the compositional technique used in Atmosphères, explaining it as follows: “The complex polyphony of the individual parts is embodied in a harmonic musical flow, in which the harmonies do not change suddenly, but merge into another; one indiscernible interval combination is gradually blurred, and from this cloudiness it is possible to discern a new interval combination taking shape.”


Harold Kaufman remarked, “Atmosphères is fixed acoustically right at the beginning of the work, with a blurred complex of sound, a cluster chord, that appears to be stationary. And yet within it there is movement, as of breathing; the volume diminishes like a breath streaming out and tending to die away. Moreover, it reveals a kind of web pattern; in the middle it is fairly dense, while the intensity of sound tapers off in the low and high registers.”


SPONGEMAN'S DILEMMA, 2007, duration 3’31”


Original song written, arranged, and performed by Walter Kuhr and Paul Etienne Lincoln


 BAD BENTHEIM SCHWEIN, 2002, duration 4’22”


Die Ballade und die Schwein, (duration: 4'25")  based on Franz von Schober’s Ich schieß Hirsch im Wilden (often referred to as a Vereinslied), with substantially altered lyrics; arranged by Walter Kuhr for organ; this recording has only the pig’s voice; lyrics by Paul Etienne Lincoln, German translation by Dirck Möllman and Walter Kuhr.

The Schwein’s mechanism incorporates the research of Dr. Lyall Watson, who deduced from observation that pigs employ twenty distinct sounds to form their vocabulary. Ten specially prepared pipes produce the pig’s vocalization; a further device (the teat chance mechanism) ensures the pig almost never sings the same song twice. The pig has nine teats, which may be pulled like levers by the nine Patrons; these levers allow air to pass, enabling the pig to grunt in a musical fashion. The crank turns a punched mylar roll encoded with the Vereinslied of 1856; moderating the crank’s speed modulates the harmony’s timbre. The pig’s mechanisms are entirely reliant on hand-cranking the tail and manually manipulation of the nine teats. This type of organ was developed in Northern Germany in the early nineteenth century and was a familiar sight in marketplaces. Given the very slim chance that the levers combinations are repeated, each performance is intended to be unique. The ritual teat pulling is accompanied by the nine Patrons’ rendition of Ich schieß Hirsch im Wilden.


SINFONIA TORINESE, 2005, duration 3’42”


Eva transcription for Racca, original transcription from c.1920; performed by Dalmazio Vignali at Guido Costa Projects, Turin.




Track 1: Cabiria (duration 3'08") by Manlio Mazza, transcription for piano by Stefano Maccagno; performed on September 23, 2004, by Dalmazio Vignali at Guido Costa Projects, Turin.

Track 2: Cabiria (duration 3'37") transcription for Racca by Franco Severi with Stefano Maccagno, performed by Dalmazio Vignali at Guido Costa Projects, Turin.


Sinfonia Torinese employs a rare Italian automatic Racca piano to play a score from the silent movie Cabiria (1914, directed by Giovanni Pastrone). When the score is played, the birds sing through minute whistles mounted in their beaks; the whistles are air-powered and regulated by the Peristaltic Pump. The Still extracts pure alcohol from the Punt e Mes, which then trickles to the Pump, thus sensitizing it; the alcohol then travels to the piano where the conductor determines when a performance commences. The installation’s operation is also determined by the thermal sensors placed in the space, which direct the Pump’s distribution of various herbal essences, creating the necessary air pressure for the bird’s whistles. As visitors walk through the space they constantly change the conditions monitored by the sensors, ensuring that every performance is unique. See projects, Sinfonia Torinese.





Track 1: Cynopica Cyanus, duration 3’50” edition: 10/14 (L)

Track 2: Oriolus oriolus, duration 2’58” edition: 4/14 (R)


Edition of fourteen unique taxidermied birds. Each sings their own song through miniature whistles accompanied by a recording of the Racca grand piano. A pigment print depicting 1/14 of the complete mechanical score of Cabiria is painted in gouache. Each bird is contained within a glass bell jar measuring 20 ½ x 12 in. with an engraved plaque bearing the bird’s Latin name.





Ignisfatuus incorporated vintage Rosa Ponselle recordings that had been re-cut into a thin layer of cellulose nitrate lacquer baked onto the surface of the Lucite discs. A very thin and malleable coating, the audio track was destroyed as the heavy mica pickup gouged its way through the grooves. The recordings below were played on three consecutive lunar cycles during the original installation of Ignisfatuus in Druid’s Hill Park Conservatory, Baltimore, 1996. See projects, Ignisfatuus.


From March 6 to April 3 Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma was used to activate the arterial cast of a heart.


Norma, “Casta diva”

Norma, a druidic High Priestess is in love with an enemy Roman and has borne him two children, thus violating her religious vows and betraying her Gallic people. To protect him from danger, she persuades her compatriots not to declare war on Rome. Instead, she calls on her goddess to restore peace on earth, praying that her lover, who has left her, will return.

(Columbia 49720) recorded December 11, 1919, conductor R. Romani


Norma, “Sediziose voci, Casta diva”

(Victor 8125 A) recorded January 30, 1929, conductor G. Setti

(Victor 8125 B) recorded December 31, 1928, conductor G. Setti


Norma, “Ah! bello a me ritorna ‘Cabaletta’”

(Victor 8125 B) recorded December 31, 1928, conductor G. Setti


Norma, “Mira, O Norma” with Marion Telva, contralto and the Metropolitan Chorus

(Victor 8110 A and B) 1929

Norma, a druidic high priestess in ancient Gaul, has betrayed both her religious vows and her people by taking a Roman lover. After bearing him two children she discovers not only that he no longer loves her, but that he intends to elope with Adalgisa, a fellow Gaul. Adalgisa expresses devotion to Norma whilst the latter begs her to look after her children.


From April 4 to May 3 Gaspare Spontini’s La Vestale was used to activate the arterial cast of a pair of lungs.


La Vestale, “Tu che invoco”

(Victor 6605 A) recorded 18 May 1926, conductor R. Bourdon

Despite her love for the Roman general Licinio, Giulia has vowed eternal chastity in the service of the goddess Vesta. It is night and Giulia keeps vigil alone in the temple. She prays to the goddess to intercede and relieve her agony, torn as she is between love and duty.


La Vestale, “O nume tutelar”

(Victor 6605 B) May 18 1926, conductor R. Bourdon


La Vestale, “O nume tutelar”

(Unpublished CVE 35465-2) recorded May 18, 1926, conductor R. Bourdon

The Vestal Virgin, Giulia, is discovered in the temple with her secret lover, a Roman general named Licinio. In their passionate rapture they have allowed the sacred eternal flame to die out. Having been reviled by the Pontifex Maximus for abusing her sacred vows, she prays to the gods that Licinio may be spared, regardless of her own fate.


From May 4 to June 1 Giuseppe Verdi’s La Forza del destino was used to activate an arterial cast of a brain.


La Forza del destino, “La Vergine degli angeli” with chorus

(Columbia 49558) recorded December 2, 1918, conductor R. Romani


La Forza del destino, “Pace, pace mio dio”

(Columbia 49859) recorded July 5, 1920, conductor R. Romani


La Forza del destino, “Alzatevi, la vergine degli angeli

(Victor 8097 B) January 23, 1928, conductor G. Setti with E. Pinza and chorus

After a tragic incident in which her father is accidentally shot and killed by her lover, Leonora resolves to spend her life in monastic isolation. The Franciscan monk Guardiano directs her to her solitary cell, and she sings a prayer to the virgin asking for divine protection.


La Forza del destino, “Pace, pace, mio dio”

(Victor 6875 A) recorded January 23, 1928, conductor R. Bourdon


La Forza del destino, “Pace, pace, mio dio”

(CVE 29060-9) unpublished, recorded January 23, 1928, conductor R. Bourdon