Musical Peddles

Shape Up, The Radicand Lab & Avio Collective are working together to design, build & install a human-powered musical kinetic sculpture at UN Plaza. The concept includes twelve freestanding "saddles" with bicycle-style peddles in the shape of musical notes. The peddles on each saddle power an enclosed fan blowing air through an organ pipe, which produces a unique tone. Each musical saddle can produce three tones & are controlled by LED integrated buttons on the seat. This installation will require participants to collaborate & work together in order to play a coherent piece of music. These saddles communicate to each other using simple Arduino computers with sensors to figure out how many peddles are being used & pick out a suitable piece of music. The more people powering the saddles, the richer & more complex the harmonies of the song.

A unique feature of our installation is that it does not require an external source of power. All the energy needed to create the tones & power the internal electronics are created by participants. A fraction of the energy produced in each saddle will be used to power a visual LED display, battery pack, microcomputer, & interactive button panel. The enclosed microcomputers can use this power to automatically play a coordinated song, submitted by local composers & musicians, as part of a daily performance piece.

Our piece is ultimately a musical instrument that requires twelve musicians to come together, work together, & play music. We will also launch a website in conjunction with the installation that will allow local musicians & composers to submit MIDI files that will be uploaded to the musical saddles for performance. Participants are encouraged to collaborate to play pieces together in an unscripted context. Groups are also welcome to use the piece for planned musical performances. The interactive illuminating buttons on each seat will help to guide participants through a song together.

This large scale public instrument where people to work together and play music will promote social change, a slow process.

Our project invites strangers from all walks of life who happens to cross paths at one particular moment in time and allow them to bond and make music.

Neither age, sex, race, class, culture nor language is relevant. There are pedals; you know what to do. There are buttons that light up; you push them. You feel vibrating pipes attached to your saddle and hear a sound. But wait, listen closer. You hear your neighbor making sounds too!

It's at this moment that you realize that your sound together with your neighbor's sound strikes a harmonious chord and plays a piece of music. You look at your neighbor and you smile. They smile back. Six saddles = six smiles and smiles are contagious.

Little ripples makes big waves. A small smile might just bring us all together.

Funded by San Francisco, CA (May 2014)