WOLF TONES is an idea for a a sculptural sound installation. Below is a description outlining the current aims of the piece, which I plan to make in the future.
Wolf Tones is inspired by the sonic phenomenon that occurs in cellos when a note is played that is the same as the resonant frequency of the wooden body of the instrument. This induces a fluctuating, pulsing sonic interference which fights with itself by both accentuating and cancelling itself out. This is perceived as a failure in the instrument and cellists usually purchase a ‘wolf eliminator’. It is when the cello speaks with the resonance of its own body, the very sound that describes its physical structure, that the wolf tone occurs.
Wolf Tones will be an intriguing sculptural sound installation created from salvaged, old cellos. The adapted cellos will be resonated via mechanical devices that agitate their strings and bodies. Feedback loops will be induced to generate pulsing tones based on each cello’s wolf tone and its related harmonics. The cellos will work in relation to each other and form a networked, automated ensemble. The soundworld will span from sounds on the edge of ‘speaking’ to multi-layered pulsing wolf tone drones.
The wolf tone is an accidental phenomena that is usually suppressed. This artwork embraces the accident of the wolf tone and employs chance by using machines that search for wolf tones on each cello. As one cello discovers a wolf tone, it tries to induce wolf tones in the other instruments through a network of feedback loops. This builds into layered, pulsing drones until the wolf tone is eventually lost, only to be re-discovered by a different cello which sets the cycle off again.
This fragile ecosystem constantly produces new combinations of sounds in an ever evolving, generative composition. The piece is conceptually linked to the environmental idea of re-wilding. Re-wilding unfolds with serendipity by reintroducing lost and forgotten species and letting nature take its course. Wolf Tones employs the metaphor of re-wilding by re-introducing the lost and forgotten wolf tone to an ensemble of sonically networked cellos to create new unexpected soundscapes from traditional instruments.
“optimising the diversity of the web of life can be achieved by humans stepping back from nature – letting it go” George Monbiot (Feral 2013)