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David Byrne Converts Building Into Giant Instrument

By Scott Thill EmailMay 12, 2008 | 5:14:56 PMCategories: Events, People, Shows, Social Media  


As an architect of the legendary Talking Heads, David Byrne once offered up an album called More Songs About Buildings and Food. These days, he's tripping into architecture and turning a building into food for the ears. I think I just stopped making sense.

Let's start over. Starting May 31, visitors to New York's Battery Maritime Building will be able to take part in Byrne's interactive music installation called simply "Playing the Building." Like its self-explanatory title implies, the Battery will be fitted with devices that will allow visitors to make music off of the piping, pillars and more. It's an interesting way to view the structures we take for granted in everyday life. According to Byrne, it could be the future of music itself.

"I'd like to say that in a small way it turns consumers into creative producers," Byrne explains on his official site, "but that might be a bit too much to claim. However, even if one doesn't play the thing, it points toward a less mediated kind of cultural experience. It might be an experience in which one begins to reexamine one's surroundings and to realize that culture -- of which sound and music are parts -- doesn't always have to be produced by professionals and packaged in a consumable form.

"I'm not suggesting people abandon musical instruments and start playing their cars and apartments," he adds, "but I do think the reign of music as a commodity made only by professionals might be winding down. The imminent demise of the large record companies as gatekeepers of the world's popular music is a good thing, for the most part."

Photo: DavidByrne.com

EDITOR: Eliot Van Buskirk |
CONTRIBUTOR: Scott Thill |
CONTRIBUTOR: Lewis Wallace |
CONTRIBUTOR: Angela Watercutter |

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