wind chimes
Site specific sound installation
UCLA Campus, Los Ángeles, USA, 2004

This project proposes to connect people through their hearing sense with their real soundscape. By taking hourly measurements of the wind, a code was developed to make a soundification – a sound representation of this data – and played it through the campus carillon at 5 p.m. every day for 8 days. Carillón de viento – Wind chimes – is an abstraction and recomposition of wind movements during each day, played to be heard throughout the campus.

Natural music translated to carillon

by Narges Zohoury

Inspired by wind, Martín Bonadeo composes tunes played from the Powell Library.

As the clock strikes 5 p.m. and three minutes of music begin to play, the sun is setting, the sky is orange and many students are ending their day on campus. Martín Bonadeo marks this end by letting the wind speak to the campus. The foreign scholar sits in a small room in the basement of Schoenberg Hall playing the carillon that is heard throughout the campus. For eight days, the pre-recorded pieces that are typically heard on campus are replaced by Bonadeo's pieces based on wind activity from the previous day. His last day playing will be Wednesday.

The room consists of a carillon – a pianolike instrument with two rows of keys – two chairs and a computerized unit that controls the clock. The room is so small that the chairs had to be rearranged for the door to close.

Before playing, 29-year-old Bonadeo downloads recorded measurements of the day's winds and practices the piece for 30 minutes. The direction and speed of the wind indicate the notes played and how many key strokes are made. The wind measurements he uses are taken from Santa Monica airport because the area is known to have similar wind patterns as UCLA. Bonadeo had to listen to windchimes for hours to find the notes that might correctly represent the wind.

In the three-minute piece, each hour of the day is represented through eight seconds of music. “Calm hours are represented as eight seconds of silence and more windy hours can sometimes be a mess,” Bonadeo said. “My experience is completely different from what people are hearing,” he said, referring to his perspective from the tiny room and that he will never get to experience what it's like to hear the music on campus. For those on campus, the experience differs depending on the listener's location, because some notes can't be heard in parts that are far from the speakers at the top of the Powell Library. Bonadeo emphasized that the scenery of the location also changes the listener's experience.

“Each person has a unique experience with the piece, including me,” he said, comparing it to being on a radio show where the program is being broadcast “from an ugly room with mics.”

Bonadeo came to UCLA from Argentina last spring and has since been working with UCLA's Hypermedia studio on developing a number of projects using his grant from UCLA. He has been trying since last April to obtain permission to play the carillon, which is used for special occasions only.

As a part of his exploration into sound as a form of communication, Bonadeo got the opportunity to play the carillon for eight days.

Jeff Richmond, a senior electronics technician with the music department, handles most inquiries regarding the carillon and said a case like Bonadeo's in which someone other than Music department graduate advisor Mary Crawford, the designated carillonneur, gets to play the carillon has never been done before.

Richmond explained the carillon is programmed to play songs at random and the only time it's played live is by special request and for special occasions.

According to UCLA on the Move, a book capturing UCLA's history, the bells first rang in March of 1939 and the system has since been replaced by the carillon. Bonadeo decided to dedicate his time to this project when he noticed that “most people on campus are often preoccupied with cell phones and outside problems and are not here completely.” He explained that he saw this project as a good opportunity to connect people to where they are.

He also appreciates the timing of the carillon project; the music is played at the end of each day. “What I'm playing is the wind from the last 24 hours. At 5 p.m. the day is closing, and I'm playing the sound of that day,” he said. “This piece has a relation with sun and cycles.”

Bonadeo sees UCLA as the perfect outlet for this form of public art because there is such a large congregation of people from different places gathered here. “In those moments, everyone is connected,” he said.

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