The Organ Of Corti

The organ of corti is the part of the inner ear of mammals which contains auditory sensory cells, but more recently it is also the name of an experimental artwork by Liminal which won this year’s PRS New Music Award…

Sonic Architecture

The PRS for Music Foundation is a UK body which aims to support and encourage new music, in whatever form artists may choose to express it.

The New Music Award provides funding for new music projects, and this year’s winner was The Organ Of Corti – a sort of acoustic sculpture which uses complex filtering to recycle ambient noise.

According to its creators, this project can be explained thus:

When sited somewhere rich in broadband noise; whether this is traffic, moving water or wind, the ‘Organ of Corti’ filters the noise creating subtle shifting harmonies depending on both the external sound source and the position of the listener in relation to it. The ‘Organ of Corti’ is based on the acoustic phenomena of sonic crystals consisting of arrays of cylinders sized and spaced according to the frequency bands they are designed to act upon. By carefully designing each array according to the sound character of the site in which it is intended to be placed, each site will have a piece of music specifically composed for it. Visually reminiscent of a fairground organ, the ‘Organ of Corti’ will be accessible, playful and will naturally inspire a range of creative responses.

So, what we have is an interesting example of live, interactive harmonic filtering – as the listener moves around the sculpture, sonic patterns derived from the ambient environment are perceived. Although not yet constructed, the piece will have its debut at the City Of London Festival in July 2011.

I wonder if this may have further implications for the sonic treatment of particularly cacophonous public spaces, where acoustic assault may be having negative effects on the well-being of those who have to pass through or work there on a daily basis. As an expert on the influence of ambient sound in the workplace, I’m sure Julian Treasure may have something to say about this…


Home | Canabrism | Guides | All Music Technology Posts | XML Sitemap