douglas irving repetto

do not break anything
(after christian wolff)

wooden turntable, rocks,
DC motor, gears, servo
motors, custom electronics,
wood, aluminum

A Christian Wolff prose piece from the late 1960s called Stones describes different ways to make music with stones, and ends with a request: "Do not break anything." I was thinking about Christian's text as I worked on this piece.

do not break anything consists of a large, slowly spinning turntable covered with a variety of rocky surfaces, and three robotic tone arms (like the arm on a record player) with various objects (a stone, a piece of metal, a piece of wood) at the ends. As the tone arms move to different parts of the turntable and lower their "needles" to the surface, different kinds of sounds are created.

The robotic tone arms are improvisers. They have some naive understanding of what their comrades are doing, and they use that information and some simple rules to generate their improvised behavior. The result is a quietly complex sound world drawn out of simple stones.

Thanks to David Liatti of Glide Inc. for lots of help with the turntable motor and Isami Ching for general mechanical advice. Stones is published by Frog Peak Music.

(1.4MB QuickTime video,
difficult to hear)