GOLDSMITHS | BA Fine Art 2015

Chase Coley



Listening and its effect on the production of new acoustic musical instruments.

My practice involves the exploration and investigation of the listening process as a method of interacting with sound. As David Toop says, 'Sounds have the potential to open out into stories; they function as both recording and transmitter of complex memories, evocations of place, physical presence and the experiential richness of history.'

There are preconceptions of listening: when we should listen, how we should listen, what should be listened to, and whether listening is restricted to the ears and extends to our other senses. These different definitions of 'listening' can all affect what can be revealed to us through sound.

Although some might be more receptive to different ways of listening at various times, it is easy to ignore the sounds of an environment. It is through the observation of these environments that an instrument builder chooses to tame sound through musical instruments.

As soundscapes constantly evolve with our changing environment we seek to understand, adapt and control these new sounds and experiences that arise from them. Building new instruments relates ourselves to our continually changing exposure to sound, and allows us to present these new sound experiences and the emotive responses that come with them.

Instruments can meaningfully affect the process of listening in order to make a musical interpretation of these sounds available to everyone.

Instrument building is a way of demanding listening attention, whether emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually. Even new and unfamiliar instruments can focus sound in a way that opens up the listener’s observation of sound.

Acoustic sound is immensely rich and diverse. Acoustic instruments demand an observation of and engagement with the physical workings of the instrument and surrounding environment to search for sonic potential to be utilised.

Due to the physical way that sound is produced through acoustic instruments, they demand new physical interactions with the way in which sound is produced, bringing new physical connections with sound opening up the body to listening process and wiping the slate clean of audience expectations.


Listening and its effect on the production of new acoustic musical instruments.