In the early 1980s, Ellen Fullman began developing the “Long String Instrument,” stringing tuned piano wire across her Brooklyn studio…. [C]omparisons, like “standing inside an enormous grand piano,” don’t quite convey the symbiosis between Fullman’s instrument and her way of playing it. It’s true, the audience is sitting in a room with seventy 80-foot, precisely tuned wires strung across it, but the comparison seems to fall apart when you realize you’ve never quite heard a piano that sounds like this. Instead of playing digitally, Fullman’s playing seems to live on the threshold of audibility. The on/off of the piano seems distant — can a light brush on a single string be counted as a “note,” in the same way that pressing a key constitutes a note?

The careful tuning of the strings causes sympathetic resonances among them. The wire is strung between resonator boxes made of Sitka spruce, built by a harp builder, and the sound is entirely acoustic. This setup, which on the surface seems simple, like a giant guitar with no frets or a harp with no pedals, creates infinitely complex resonances and acoustic effects. In a resonant space, the line between the instrument sounding and not sounding could be blurred.

 

Comments are closed.

News

Courtesy of HBO
April 23, 2014 | NPR · In the Internet Age, spoilsports abound, What would drive someone to ruin it for everyone else?
 

AFP/Getty Images
April 23, 2014 | NPR · Angry residents of a favela, or slum, set fires and threw bottles after a young man’s body was found. They blame police for his death. Authorities have stepped up security in advance of the World Cup.
 

AP
April 23, 2014 | NPR · Some of the guides have reportedly packed up to leave. Shaken by the deaths last week of 16 Sherpas, many don’t want to climb this year. Negotiators are headed to Everest’s base camp.
 

Arts & Life

April 23, 2014 | NPR · 2013 was a big year for actress and model Yaya Alafia. She starred in three films and had a baby boy. Alafia shares the songs reflecting those experiences for Tell Me More’s series ‘In Your Ear.’
 

Laura B. Weiss
April 23, 2014 | NPR · The Australian state known for its marsupial “devil” has a local food scene that might be described as heavenly. If you can’t try it person, get a taste with these Tasmania-inspired recipes.
 

Fox
April 23, 2014 | NPR · Fox has started releasing images from an upcoming episode of The Simpsons that renders the family in Lego pieces. And as always, all rights are carefully reserved.
 

Music

April 23, 2014 | NPR · 2013 was a big year for actress and model Yaya Alafia. She starred in three films and had a baby boy. Alafia shares the songs reflecting those experiences for Tell Me More’s series ‘In Your Ear.’
 

Courtesy of the artist
April 23, 2014 | NPR · The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced recipients of its 2014 performing arts grants. Noted composers such as Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake and Randy Weston received a first tier award.
 

YouTube
April 23, 2014 | NPR · A new song from Jamie xx, the producer behind the stylish, seductive British trio The xx, manages to push his sound in new directions while getting back to bedroom basics.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab