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date: 14 November 2019

Méta-harmonielocked

  • Hugh Davies

Extract

Generic name of a series of three large sound sculptures incorporating musical instruments and sonorous scrap objects, constructed in 1977–80 by Jean Tinguely. Méta-harmonie II (1979; 3.8 × 6.9 × 1.6 metres) runs by means of pulleys and drive belts, powered by several electric motors, and resembles a highly individual combination of the sort of machinery used in a water-mill and an orchestrion. Its sounds are those of an idiosyncratic percussion ensemble, though some are sustained and almost electronic in character; these are produced by two keyboard reed instruments, a Melodica and a toy reed organ, each with a range of just over two octaves, whose notes are played by wheels that move slowly to and fro across the keyboards (only the black keys of the organ are played). The other musical instruments used are side drums, bongos, woodblocks, cymbals, cowbells and other bells, tam-tams, and an old upright piano (‘played’ by two toy figures and a clog); these are supplemented by glass bowls, metal shapes, saucepans, and a large tin can....

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