Digital Musics & Sound Art

frequencies (a)

Goldene Nica - Golden Nica

Nicolas Bernier (CA)


Cyberarts 2013 - International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica 2013

frequencies (a)* is a sound performance combining the sound of mechanically triggered tuning forks with pure digital sound waves. The performer triggers sequences from the computer, activating solenoids that hit the tuning forks very precisely. Streams of light burst synchronously with the forks, creating a not quite minimal sound and light composition. 

The starting point the composition of this work was the acoustic tuning fork, an object that I find fascinating for many reasons: 1) while it is obviously acoustic, the sound it produces is quite close to the sine tone, reminiscent the “primitive” early electronic music experiments 2) tuning forks have been used for tonal instrumental music for centuries and have been used as a scientific instruments, so I see them as a symbol of research 3) We could almost say the object is approaching extinction, ironically being replaced today by electronic tuners. 

For me, the tuning fork is the perfect object to compose in a way that draws a line between the electronic and the acoustics, between the present and the past.  After a couple of years of improvisation with tuning forks, I wanted to compose a performance that would be more precise than when I manipulate them myself, so this is why I used a micro-controller so I could have a velocity and a precision that would not be possible with human control. As the inspiration comes from minimalism, I then built a customized light table reminiscent of some minimalist works. This synchronization helps to produce a retroaction between the sound and the visual.

Nicolas Bernier: Audiovisual composition, concept, performance, programmation, technical design and some electronics Olivier Lefebvre: Techical design Laurent Loison: Fabrication