How Di Mainstone Turned The Brooklyn Bridge Into a Giant Instrument

Di Mainstone has MOMENTUM

There are people in the world who see the same things as everyone else, yet see something different. On visits to the Brooklyn Bridge, Di Mainstone didn’t see the landmark as a route from Brooklyn to Manhattan. She didn’t see a tourist attraction. She saw a musical instrument. In May last year when Brooklyn Bridge celebrated its 130th Anniversary, Di did her first test performance on the bridge, turning it into an enormous instrument, using the bridge’s cables as a giant harp. In March 2015 Di has been invited to play Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, UK, which will be celebrating 150 years since its grand opening.

When working in Brooklyn in 2009, Mainstone spent time recording and examining the sounds from the bridge, which are naturally created as its cables tense and relax. But how could these be captured and played? She collaborated with engineers, musicians and tech experts to bring her vision to life, through a modular harp device that would allow anyone to manipulate these sounds. Be it a dancer, an artist or a passing pedestrian, anyone can link to the bridge via by multiple retractable wires, which are tethered to the player’s body via a wearable holster. Di has coined the phrase “Movician” to describe these bridge players who can explore bridge sounds through expressive movement and interaction with the Human Harp.  The length of each wire, the way it is held and the angle at which is bends affect the way the noise is heard. Each movement then creates a new sound, a new tone, transforming the bridge into a giant instrument, which can be played, written for and enjoyed in the same way as any other.

In preparation for Clifton’s anniversary performance, Di is leading workshops on other bridges around the world – bridging knowledge between innovation laboratories and sharing cutting-edge technologies, techniques and creative ideas that will answer the question “how do you play a bridge?” Tests are taking place on the Brooklyn Bridge as well as other bridges to find ways to record and play the frequencies or, in other words, vibrations that run through each bridge’s cables, with each bridge being different having its own personality and sound.  The team will then need to explore ways of recording and replaying these sounds in real time through the harp-string sound control.

March 2015 will see the Clifton Suspension Bridge’s 81 uprights similarly transformed. This unique, ambitious project – a fusion of art, technology, dance and music – shows that when we look differently at something, we can see something new. We could even end up hearing something else, something entirely unique. Di hopes that performance on Clifton Suspension Bridge will become the launch pad of the global tour, which would see other bridges throughout the world being beautifully transformed into music masterpieces.  Di dreams that the Human Harp tour will then find its final destination in the place where her vision first begun (New York, Brooklyn Bridge).  There she sees New Yorkers becoming “Movicians” for a moment in time; collectively playing the bridge like a giant harp and celebrating the deep mesmeric song of their iconic landmark.

What’s your MOMENTUM?

Di Mainstone has MOMENTUM. Working with unique people like this, Sennheiser together with Spotify, is telling the stories of a hugely diverse yet 100% inspirational group of 100 people, following their journeys and learning more about their passion, their lives and their own personal MOMENTUM. They’re people with a passion and connection to sound that has taken form in many different ways. People who go further than others. People who know what others don‘t know. People who do things, that haven‘t been done before. People who push the world ahead. People with MOMENTUM. This spirit, this commitment to the core to create something that is special, unique and that has uncompromised authenticity and substance is what Sennheiser seeks to celebrate and discover over the course of the MOMENTUM project.

Along with those people, Sennheiser will be passing this inspiration forward asking others “What’s your MOMENTUM?” – inviting them to join the global MOMENTUM community by adding their own inspirational videos at www.sennheiser-momentum.com. People inspired in turn can add their videos to chains that link connected themes, bringing together ideas about art, music and what it means to live life one step ahead of the crowd.

Everything Sennheiser does and every product that is released is based on substance. It’s the quality of the work and the passion for sound, that pushes Sennheiser forward. This is why Sennheiser gave the name MOMENTUM to the premium range of headphones, which fuse uncompromising sound quality, with the highest quality materials and a minimalist design where form elegantly follows function. They capture this unity of purpose and spirit that drives Sennheiser forward. This is MOMENTUM.

For more information on the Human Harp or Di Mainstone’s work please visit: www.humanharp.org

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