"Music is the cup that holds the wine of silence. Sound is that cup, but empty. Noise is that cup, but broken.”

Robert Fripp


Steam machine music

Morten Riis is a danish artist born in 1980.
His music can be characterized as an electronic music that fuses elements of sound art with a more acousmatic and electro-acoustic approach. Lately his artistic work has focused around the investigation of the myriad of errors that arises when working with analogue and digital systems.

In his recent work Morten Riis tries to implement the notion of programmability, control and execution - the fundamentals of electronic and computer music, into a physical mechanical context in an attempt to search for the elementary elements of digital control.

In "Steam Machine Music", the sound material is generated using two music boxes that are programmable with perforated paper strips, a small Zither - a stringed instrument played with Meccano pulley wheels thus generating continuous drones instead of the normal plucking of the strings. Furthermore a dynamo that generates alternating current, which drives a small Lego engine which output is feed directly to a mixing desk generating a continuous tone which frequency is depended of the speed of the steam engine. Additionally a "drum" machine is incorporated which is built with Meccano parts that can be programmed to consist of up to four simple rhythm patterns; and the most important sound generating part is the sound of the machine itself, the rhythmic patterns and pulsating drones of the steam engine, the squeaking of the gear trains and the rattling of the whole structure is all important parts of the sonic experience.

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