Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Found Sound - a musical instrument

From the outset of the Old Ford Primary playground project, erect architecture were keen to involve children into the conception and building of their playgrounds. We wanted this involvement to go beyond producing children's drawings and talking about it. It was important for us to include an element of learning and spatial awareness. We had proposed to create a Musical Instrument, which was to be conceived and built in a series of experimental workshops with yr 2 pupils once the playground was complete. How did we go about it?

A brief introductory talk supported by video clips demonstrated the creation of sound through experimenting with found objects. The pupils went on to experiment with different sounds and techniques using many collected, recycled and found objects. The sounds were soon to be focused on expressing emotions: happy, sad, excited, calm, scary (tying in with the curriculum: ‘Who am I?’ ‘What are my emotions?’ ). During the following session the children built small installations to explore these emotional sounds spatially.
Based on these installations, erect architecture proposed a concept for the final built piece: Found objects were to be suspended within a cube to define four different emotional spaces: The open happy space challenging children to jump in order to reach bright sounding objects is followed by the curved low anticipation tunnel with ambiguous sounds. In a surprise moment, the tunnel opens up into the tall and sombre calm space, complete with chair and tree&sky view. Different floor finishes support the different sound qualities. The children mocked up the volumes of the three different spaces according to their spatial requirements (’How tall does it need to be to be reached by jumping?’) whilst the frame was erected by an artist/contractor. After exploring the sound quality of the found objects, the children placed the sound objects within the frame and assisted the suspending of the objects. The opening performance is pending...

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