Music for (Prepared) Bicycles

Music for (Prepared) Bicycles is a project-in-progress based on translating John Cage’s works for ‘prepared piano’ into three ’sonic bicycle processions,’ creating a ’music of change’ that transcends geographic boundaries to thrive across three global metropolises.

“On the other side of the Plaza, Ethan Barnett performed conceptual artist Caecilia Tripp’s Music for (prepared) Bicycles by riding a sonic bike (a red Schwinn) that had electric guitar strings in place of some spokes on the wheels with playing cards attached and connected to an audio system. Barnett rode the bike for 30 minutes over a 12 ‘ by 8’ blank canvas and through four plastic panels covered in black paint at each corner. As he pedaled the bike with great agility and sounded the bell intermittently, black curvilinear lines piled up on the surface of the canvas and the sound of the music from the wheels was heard simultaneously. Inspired by John Cage’s delight in street sounds and the ideas of Marcel Duchamp (one thinks of his famous readymade Bicycle Wheel, 1913), Tripp brings together these two artists with a lively and mesmerizing new spin.” – Zeteo Journal

Music for (prepared) Bicycles is an ongoing project that presents three sonic processions of a prepared bicycle in three metropolises, each in reference to civil rights movements across the globe. Part I was created in Mumbai, India, Part II in New York City, and Part III will be created in Cape Town, South Africa. Inspired by both the writings and works of John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, and also calling upon the ideas in Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience (or “Resistance to Civil Government”), the work utilizes the journey of a bicycle, outfitted with guitar strings and percussive elements, to present a musical work in both the public sphere where we witness the procession as well as the cinematic sphere, through the recordings and collage of both the bicycle melodies and soundscapes of each metropolis.

A film by Caecilia Tripp
Bicycle fabrication, recording and sound design by Andrew Munsey




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