Music Box Migrations explores the idea of using a picture as a musical score. Images of birds, bird migration patterns and maps are printed directly onto strips of card. Holes are punched according to chosen points on the images or map. These holes trigger notes when the score is wound through a music box – creating a melody. I regularly run workshops with this idea, inviting people to tell me about a journey, which I then print out onto a card so the participant can punch their own holes, making music from the route.
The video below starts with a close up photograph of starlings murmurating at Ham Wall, Somerset, followed by a flock of Canada Geese taking off along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, followed by more Somerset starlings, on telegraph lines preparing to murmurate.
Music box migrations has also been exhibited as a mechanised version in collaboration with Matthew Olden. This version has 2 or 3 music boxes being live audio sampled and effect by Matthew’s bespoke sound software ‘i am the mighty jungulator’. The jungulator transforms the sounds from the music boxes into a textural, shimmering sonic environment through generative processes designed to control delays, pitch shifts and granulation. This video was recorded at the site specific outdoor show ‘For The Birds’ at the stunning Ynys-hir RSPB bird reserve, Mid Wales in October 2014. The show took place at night, with the music boxes positioned amongst trees and illuminated by small LED lights.
Here are some pictures of the music box being exhibited at View Gallery in Bristol, with a selection of bird photo and migration route scores.
Here is a video of people making music box journeys at the Merlin Theatre, during the Frome Festival in July 2009.
Kathy has developed an online version of the Piano Migrations music box workshop with digital artist Ed Holroyd which can be visited and played with here.
Music boxes mechanisms like this can be bought online from Grand Illusions.