Candle drone

Roland van der Meijs, Exploring earthly sounds for nine candles, 2016

IDEA: 'Exploring earthly sounds for nine candles'

WHAT: This site-specific sound installation evokes the majestic cathedral located next to the Vishal Art Foundation in Haarlem’s old city centre (Netherlands). The installation pays tribute to the cathedral’s Müller organ by using the same materials and religious artefacts, yet in another order. As an artist working with sound, Van Der Meijs was curious about pitching up ultra-low bass pipe sounds in order to create a constant drone-like audio. Here a meditative atmosphere is created through a very slow and constant changing bass sound coming from the installation. The candles are the musicians of this sound installation, and their diversity in size slowly yet irregular transform the pitched sound of each organ pipe. In this way, the overall sound is constantly changing — which causes a rich diversity in low and soft sounding pulsating bass rhythms. 

To give an idea on the sound speed, the smallest candles need to be changed every six hours while the thickest runs more than five days. In other words, this installation requires daily care and attention. The burning candles get shorter and cause a vertical movement in each mechanism. Because the candles’ fat is burning a way at the top, a special little shaft around the candles is drawn downward thus, by way of a spring system which pushes the candle up while it gets shorter, it pulls a wheel connected to a brass valve, opening it up on the front end of each organ pipe at the same speed to which the candle burns. In this way, the air column of each organ pipe gets shorter and pitches up their tone. The air pump is built in a rubber skin-covered box to kill the noise, and which blows up when the pump is starting to work — as it is the heart of the installation.

WHY: It reflects on the slowness; of change and decay of religion in the rapid modern world of today. But more so it appeals to our humanity, to the fragility of life and to the often imperceptible but progressive decay of mind and body.

BY: Ronald van der Meijs

Due to the low bass frequencies, headphones or external speakers are recommended to get the best sound experience.

Simon de KoningComment