James Boags

PRESENTS

Symphony

James Boag

symphony

Ben Lomond National Park, Tasmania

Tasmania’s rugged environment was the setting for the debut of the James Boag’s Meteorphonium, where it harnessed environmental and meteorological data to create a world-first symphony, bringing to life the essence of James Boag.
Discover the symphony

Flemington Racecourse, Victoria

The thunder of hooves, the release of the starter gates, the celebratory clink of glasses - the Meteorphonium was at the James Boag Birdcage Marquee to capture the sounds of Flemington and transform them into a uniquely stunning symphony.
Discover the symphony

Ben Lomond National Park, Tasmania

Play the evocative track created by the extraordinary Meteorphonium and click on the hotspots to learn more.

Flemington Racecourse, Victoria

Play the track to hear how the Meteorphonium has brought the unique atmosphere of Flemington to life.
Track 02 | 8:05 A calm northerly wind becomes stronger and turns north westerly for a striking effect.
Track 03 | 5:38 The wind shifts from easterly to northerly to westerly bringing the Meteorphonium to life.
Track 04 | 4:51 Pressure builds as a calm southerly wind becomes northerly creating a truly unique symphony.

Analogue synthesisers

Strong atmospheric pressure throughout the track creates a humming sound in the analogue synthesisers.

Bronze singing bowls

A calm southerly wind creates sustained resonant frequencies and activates the chimes in the brass singing bowls.

Tongue drum

A fast southerly wind activates the hammers of the tongue drum, each producing a single note of a pentatonic scale.

Weather Station

A freestanding weather station captures the weather conditions used to create the live music 200m away from the instrument.

Analogue synthesisers

Two custom-built curved analogue synthesisers (the only two in existence in the world) sit around the tongue drum. They are equipped with LDRs (Light Dependent Resistors), which alter the sound with changes in light level. The synthesisers are automatically mixed into the symphony as atmospheric pressure rises or falls.

Bronze singing bowls

The nine handmade bronze singing bowls are mounted on motors that spin the bowls to produce sustained resonant frequencies, and control hammer arms that strike them to produce chimes. The hammers and motors play in various configurations when changes to temperature and humidity occur. They are also activated by periods of calm and stable weather.

Tongue drum

The tongue drum is a metal cylinder with eight tuned keys or ‘tongues’ which, when struck, produce a single note of a pentatonic scale. Above each tongue is a hammer, with each tongue drum hammer producing its own musical part in the score. The hammers produce interlocking polyrhythms and melodic patterns that grow in complexity and volume as wind speed increases.

Weather Station

An independent freestanding weather station captures weather conditions used to create the live music 200m away from the instrument.

Measurements of air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and rainfall are taken by the weather station (Ultimeter 2100). Each scientifically accurate measurement is taken once per second.

A camera reads changes in the sky’s brightness, hue and saturation. This colour sensor information is fed into the main software as an input to affect the brightness of the synthesised tones.

Speakers

Four speakers are placed north, east, south and west around the main instrument. The speakers amplify the analogue synthesisers. ‘Site specific’ field recordings appear in the composition when wind from a particular direction exceeds a certain speed threshold.

The frame

The large circular timber structure which frames the instrument was created from Tasmanian oak. It is 1.8m wide and 100mm deep. The circular shape of the instrument is inspired by the shape of ancient timepieces, meteorological instruments and compasses. The wooden frame is marked with the cardinal compass directions NSEW. The main body of the instrument weighs 300kg.

Meteorphones

Orbiting the main instrument structure are eight independent satellites, meteorphones.

Housed in a glass ‘jar’, these independent units are powered by DC motors and solenoids. They are light sensitive, and increase activity and therefore sound as the light increases, much like a cicada’s noise changes in relation to environmental temperature.

There are two types of meteorphones – one creates a clicking noise and the other uses repurposed xylophone keys to create notes.

A passion for the extraordinary

We invited a select number of passionate individuals from the worlds of travel, food, photography, lifestyle and fashion to experience the James Boag’s Meteorphonium at our Symphony of Tasmania event. Below is what they had to say about this unique experience.