“Mirlitones, a physical and sensorial sonic experience” presented by Simons and Bosch

  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Simone Simons and Peter Bosch, Mirlitones, a physical and sensorial sonic experience
  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Simone Simons and Peter Bosch, Mirlitones, a physical and sensorial sonic experience
  • Video still from YouTube


Presentation Title:

  • Mirlitones, a physical and sensorial sonic experience



  • The title of this work refers to a primitive instrument that has appeared in a multitude of forms in various parts of the world. All these instruments exist of a hollow form with a membrane mounted that can be brought into vibration by blowing or singing. The best-known member of the family is the kazoo used until present times in pop music. The point of departure for the work was the spectacular noise produced by children with minuscule plastic mirlitons in the cavalcade of the Funeral of the Sardine, the final act of the biggest fiesta in the Spanish town Murcia.
    Our Mirlitones are much bigger than their predecessors and produce a world of sounds little known in musical practice. The installation exists of suspended vertical pipes, one to three meters long, equipped with a vibrating membrane at the upper side. The length of the pipes is related to the diameter of seven planets and the elapse in time of the dynamics for each pipe is deduced from day and night cycles. Each pipe is treated differently resulting in a slow, hypnotizing, ever changing sound mix. Small fluctuations in the air pressure cause subtle changes in the sound, composed of very low frequencies, harmonics and phenomena like beats and combination tones that arise from simultaneously sounding pipes. Because all the pipes share the air from the same limited source they also influence each other resulting in a fragile and complex sonorous system, unpredictable up to the smallest detail.
    Mirlitones is a physical and sensorial experience due to its rather high sound volumes and ever changing, energetic and hypnotic sound environment. Although the work seems to be not much more than some vibrating membranes and sound chambers its hi tech proportional valves are essential. These make a very precise and gradual control of the airflow in each pipe possible, delivering new experiences in the field of listening to and “undergoing” sound: The public is invited to the experience to be in the centre of an ever changing sound cloud.
    August, 2013 Mirlitones was shown as part of the ICMC 2013 and the Totally Huge New Music Festival at the Kidogo Art Institute, Fremantle, Australia. At this occasion the work was not only presented as an autonomous installation, we also invited Canadian bass clarinet player Krista Martynes to improvise with the work. At the talk at ISEA2015 all hard- and software (PureData) will be explained and a simple mouth blown demo pipe will be shown.