01-10-2013

New York The Voice of The Brooklyn Bridge

What Does a Bridge Sound Like?

In New York, Di teamed up with friends: Andy Cavatorta an inventor of instruments, Jon Cohrs a visual artist and Professor Mark Plumbley Director of the Centre for Digital Music in London - to discover what the vibrations running through the Brooklyn Bridge's cables would sound like.

“During our first visit to NYC in May, we tested our harp-note sound controls using pre-recorded samples. Our next mission is to learn how to capture the subtle frequencies running through the cables and structure of the bridge – so that we can play the bridge analogue” Di Mainstone

The team met at the centre of the Brooklyn Bridge to try and capture some of these sounds. Andy brought a set of home made contact mics with him to record cable vibrations, Jon brought a stethoscope and a selection of recording devices and Mark Plumbley came with sound and engineering of knowledge and boundless enthusiasm!

“We used the contact mics to record the deep subsonic vibrations coming off the cables. Once we get these recordings into a digital format we can shift the frequencies up into the audible range and see how they really sound” Andy Cavatorta

The team started by listening to the bridge through a stethoscope, which amplified the vibrations of traffic, footsteps and the wind running through the metal work.

“It was great fun to listen to the bridge with the stethoscope. As you move it around you can hear the different frequencies coming through. When we listened to the cables, I thought we would hear more of a twang, but it was more of a strange rumble” PROFESSOR MARK PLUMBLEY

Di took the final recordings captured by Jon back to London with her, where she met up with musician and coder Adam Stark to examine what they had captured.  Adam was able to remove the impact sound of the hammer and pit the remaining sub-sonic vibration to an audible level.  The results were quite mesmerising and can be heard on the Soundcloud link.