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David Tudor’s Rainforest

Between 1968 and 1973 David Tudor’s Rainforest work created sculptural sound environments utilizing custom electronic instruments of his own design:

“My piece, “Rainforest IV”, was developed from ideas I had as early as 1965. The basic notion, which is a technical one, was the idea that the loudspeaker should have a voice which was unique and not just an instrument of reproduction, but as an instrument unto itself. an offer came, which didn’t get realized, but I was asked to make a proposal for a park in Washington. The ideas was to have a sounding outdoor sculpture, so my mind began turning around. I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if each sculpture sounded completely different from the other and the whole could be run by one machine which could be like a commutator.’

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I eventually acquired some devices called audio transducers. They were first developed for the US Navy because they needed a device which could sound above and under the water simultaneously. I went to see the manufacturer of these devices and they gave me several samples. They later produced a commercial version. I had them in 1968 when MC asked me for a dance score and I decided that I would try to do the sounding sculpture on a very small scale. I took these transducers and attached them to very small objects and then programmed them with signals from sound generators. The sound they produced was then picked up by phono cartridges and then sent to a large speaker system. Several different versions of this piece were produced.

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Learn more at davidtudor.org


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