Some of the ideas behind this project are listed here, and others invited. If you should choose to contribute, we hope you’ll share a bit of the road that brought you here.

Dedications

  • to John Cage, for ironic Silence
  • to Joseph Pinzarrone, for the opportunity
  • to Harry Castle, for just too much

1883: the Brooklyn Bridge

Over one mile and 125 years of sonic content, the longest suspension bridge of its day, and the frequent subject of lectures John Cage delivered while leading walks across.

1937: the Golden Gate Bridge

At 6,700 feet of iconic International Orange, what else can we say about Joseph B. Strauss’ masterpiece across the gateway to the Pacific? Except that he had help. And the thing really does sing. The suspension lines hang in 252 groups of four from the main catenary cables, while the towers harmonize on their own. We continue to assay the bridge in all weather and all seasons. Visit the official site.

1977: the Soundscape

Canadian composer R. Murray Shafer publishes The Tuning of the World simultaneously in Canada (McClelland and Stuart, Ltd: Toronto) and the US (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc: NY), the result of investigations he called the World Soundscape Project. The book was reprised in 1994 in paperback, retitled The Soundscape (Destiny Books: Rochester, VT), and otherwise page-for-page identical except for the redesigned title page and copyright notices. Enough cannot be said about this book and Schafer’s contribution to the cognitive world of sound and noise. Worth reading on many levels, including the provocative discussions about insidious civil and industrial acoustic engineering practice many of us grew up under the influence of.

1985: the Potato Engineers

A band founded by Joseph Pinzarrone, formerly of DeKalb, Illinois, whose members contemplated the practical limits of 1200 baud telephone communications in the early days of MIDI. Despite a nearly complete lack of financial means, the band delivered a series of what appeared to be long-distance collaborative performances; without any real technical basis for success, the illusion had the benefit of novelty. Search for them at Michael Zerang’s Links Hall Performance Series site.

2005: the Huygens probe

The European Space Agency’s Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn culminated in the descent of the Huygens probe to the surface of the moon Titan on January 14, 2005. The Planetary Society posted a digital audio recording of Huygens’ entry into Titan’s atmosphere on their web site that year. If the recordings themselves are underwhelming, think about where and when the sound originated as you listen to the samples.

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