Bohemians At Large; Menacing, Musical, Monoliths, Masters of Wind and Water.

Many of us have learned to accept the burdens of a free society. One of which is having to let people dump their rubbish on public land. Illegal you say? Well what if they called it art?

With all due respect, Robert Rauschenberg must have thrown some really great parties.

I suppose one can get used to anything, but there comes a time when a monstrosity of modernism is no longer content to let itself be seen and not heard.

The Black Pool High Tide Organ – AKA Neptune’s Kazoo

On Black Pool England’s famous promenade is what is known as “The Great Promenade Show” a series of sculptures that includes this thing.

“I don’t get it.” you mutter to yourself. “Could it be Godzilla’s back scratchier, or perhaps a memorial to the local Viking whose inspired aerial assault ended in tragedy.”

The piece was designed by Liam Curtin and John Gooding and is described as “a musical manifestation of the sea” The meaning of this statement becomes clear when tide water strikes the lower pipes, creating a sound not unlike a train engine bearing down on you.

The Black Pool High Tide Organ is a fifty foot vuvuzela meant to be played by a force of nature rather then the trained professionals we all know and love. So if your ever in Black Pool, watch what you say about these rough and ferocious tones, least an easily-offended sea-god is lurking somewhere offshore.

Wind Harp Musical Monument, South San Francisco. AKA Aeolus’ Didgeridoo

On a hill in South San Francisco overlooking the bay is what appears to be an alien oil rig. What precious resources can it be sucking out of our hapless mother earth? The good news? It doesn’t want our oil, the bad news? It seems to think it can sing.

Originally built in 1967 it was designed by Aristides Demetrios and Lucia Eames. It was to be the center piece of an industrial park, but fell into disrepair in the years since. It was purchased by the city in 1993, refurbished and rededicated, so that it may continue to entertain those determined enough to walk several blocks and climb a steep hill.

Though on a windy day the ominous hum can carry for miles, a summons most likely, for its loyal servants. At a whopping 92 feet it is the tallest musical monolith on this list, and one of the largest of it’s kind in the world. So if your wondering exactly what kind of sounds it can produce – my guess would be, anything it wants.

San Francisco Wave Organ. AKA The Bagpipes of Cthulhu.

Occurring suspiciously close to the wind harp is a rocky jetty that seems to be a remnant of Atlantis, or perhaps R’lyeh. Fallen walls and toppled pillars interspersed with tangled pluming gasp and gurgle with the voices of a thousand drowned souls, or perhaps a massive monster, snoring in the tunnels beneath.

The truth behind this mysterious ruin may disappoint you, for it is merely a noisy art piece.

A noisy art piece made in 1986 from the salvaged stones of a demolished cemetery. This feat was made possible by Frank Oppenheimer, a man who never lived to see its completion.

The wave Organ is the work of Peter Richards and George Gonzales, and was inspired by the recordings of Sound artist Bill Fontana – who one day thought to poke a microphone into a hollow pipe he found sticking out of a pier.

Where would we be without idiots?

Despite its ominous past the whispering ruin is seen as a peaceful hideaway, calling young and old to sit and read, play or fish, an insidious tourist trap lurking just off the beaten path.

Sea Organ Croatia. AKA Huracan’s Harmonica.

Zadar Croatia has seen it’s share of both war and tourism, the latter having damaged it’s seawall, the former having turned it into a keyboard.

After the second world war the wall was slowly replaced with a straight and spartan stretch of concrete, that totally clashed with it’s world renown sunsets. It was not until 2005 that an Architect named Nikola Basic completed the Organ, which has received the “European Prize For Urban Public Space.”

So now your thinking. “Ok, where is it, all I see are some steps. But what is that beautiful noise? It’s as if an angelic whale has fallen out of heaven and landed on a Peruvian flute band.” The Sea Organ of Zadar Croatia is so dedicated to it’s music that it prefers to be heard and not seen, a series of marble steps descend in a simple yet elegant pattern into the waves . . . The water slides across them like fingers, playing as if in accompaniment to the bells of the ancient city’s many churches, and the whispers of its many ghosts.

The Singing, Ringing Tree. AKA The Panpipes of Pazuzu.

At only about three meters tall, this odd pile of scrap is the smallest monument listed here, but produces what I believe to be the most fascinating sound. It also cuts a wicked silhouette against the stark countryside of East Lancashire, England. One of four “Panopticons” (Structures providing a comprehensive view)

Or (Wonderous bastions of Randomness)

The tree and it’s brethren were completed in 2006, to commemorate a local “renaissance” (The Aliens have landed methinks.) Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu designed the sculpture, many of whose metal pipes are “just for show” many functional pipes arranged among these actually produce the sound, which, seems to be the auditory incarnation of pure, unadulterated eerie.

So which one is your favorite?

I’ve included links to places where one might listen to the sounds of these sonic wonders or one can simply search their names for many amazing images and videos, as well. Happy hunting!


8 thoughts on “Bohemians At Large; Menacing, Musical, Monoliths, Masters of Wind and Water.

  1. What an amazing post with a wealth of information.. I was especially interested in Blackpool.. living in the UK.. its years though since I payed a visit to this coastal Town..
    You have given the reader much to think about and I have booked marked to return and follow some of the links you have given here..
    Thank you, and nice to meet you and comment upon one of my posts

  2. rastelly says:

    You are very fortunate to live within range of one of
    these amazing instruments – I’m in the U.S. deep south,
    and know of nothing like this locally. San francisco is
    closest, but that is all the way up in California. Though
    it does feature two amazing monuments in same area.
    There could very well be something like this near my
    home, but I’m yet to discover it. Thank you very much
    for your comment, and if you ever get around to visiting
    the the High Tide Organ – due tell what it’s like in person.

  3. Fascinating stuff! Love the photos and the idea of your blog – reminiscent of the aeolian harps – giant harps set on hills to create sound played by the wind.

    • rastelly says:

      The san francisco wind harp, I think,
      holds a record – or used to hold a record,
      for being the world’s largest aeolian harp.
      I wonder if there is a bigger one?

      • Here’s a thought worth sharing regarding possibly the ultimate wind harp from Brian Greene, physicist and author of “The Elegant Universe” – “With the discovery of superstring theory, musical metaphors take on a startling reality, for the theory suggests that the microscopic landscape is suffused with tiny strings whose vibrational patterns orchestrate the evolution of the cosmos. The winds of change, according to superstring theory, gust through an aeolian universe.”

  4. rastelly says:

    The very universe? A musical monolith?
    Now there is a truly fasinating thought!
    Thank you. 😀

  5. S Basu says:

    wind harp 🙂
    thats an awesome creation.
    thanks for the fantastic post.

  6. rastelly says:

    I’ve posted a link to a video,
    where you can actually hear
    the sound – I heard that the
    Wind Harp supposedly has
    a CD out, but I haven’t gone
    looking for it yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s