Sound Art: Interesting Finds


The Wave Organ, by Peter Richards and George Gonzales, Exploratorium artists in residence, 1986.

Example #1: The Wave Organ

The Wave Organ on San Francisco Bay is a wave-activated acoustic sculpture. Inspired by artist Bill Fontana’s recordings made of sounds from a vent pipe of a floating concrete block, it is made of carved granite and marble extracted from a demolished cemetery. This structure includes 25 PVC organ pipes and concrete located at various elevations within the area. The rise and fall of the tides would create different sounds.

I really enjoy this installment, because of its calming quality. It makes use of nature to produce ‘music’ that is halfway unintentional, because of how we cannot control the incoming waves. The only thing we can alter are the positioning of the PVC pipes. This creates a calming and relaxing mood, precisely because of how the sounds created are not pre-planned and hence monotonous in a sense. All in all, this gives us a new human experience which comforts us.


Emerging Paradigm by Haroon Mirza,,

Example #2: Emerging Paradigm

Haroon Mirza hails from London. He sought to challenge the barriers between sound, noise and music by crossing wires and thinking about his work as a process of manipulating electricity. Within his work, he considers both cultural and scientific research. In 2015, he even won the Calder prize after receiving the Nam June Paik Center Prize.

In my opinion, his music is very intriguing. While it is a music which does not enable you to lay back and relax, it is oddly attractive. However, it nevertheless keeps you tensed up and unable to enter your comfort zone. Mirza makes use of sound waves and tempo patterns which would make one uncomfortable due to its uneven and incompatible frequency. After listening for a long while, it becomes overwhelming to absorb and digest as a piece of music. As a result, I can only accept it as its intended Sound Art experiment.