Sit or Play


Sit or Play is a set of three benches, each of which has a pair of circular steel tongue drums embedded in the seat. You can sit on the benches (the tongue drums are sturdy enough to withstand that) or you can play the tongue drums. The tone of the tongue drums is greatly enhanced by the combination of the bench tops acting as soundboards and the resonance of the air partially enclosed under the seats (the benches have side boards to create this enclosure). Sit or Play was part of an installation called Play Hear, described here and here. Originally the tongues were tuned to a just pentatonic scale devised by the composer Lou Harrison, but with lots of public use they’ve lost that tuning and they now serve to illustrate the idea that random tunings can also be attractive.

Sit or Play was jointly constructed by Ian Saxton, Sudhu Tewari, Ben Carpenter and myself.

The audio clip was recorded outdoors on a late summer evening full of cricket song.

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