30/11/2012 — 2/02/2013

Mike Marshall


Mike Marshall, Analogue, 2012

‘Analogue’ is the first of three sound installations by Mike Marshall commissioned by Grundy Art Gallery and devised for the particular architecture of the gallery’s Rotunda space. This first installation reduces the principles of sound installation and musical composition to their absolute core. A bare speaker cone is hung face down from the domed ceiling, four more speaker cones are held by wires in each corner of the square room beneath. The sound of each tuning fork, its attack as it is struck, begins above in the centre of the gallery and then radiates towards the corners of the gallery below, tones and overtones modulating and moving around the space. This work begins with the sound of one tuning fork after another, combinations of notes then build methodically until all combinations have been played creating a listening experience that is sensuous yet systematic.

The tuning forks used in ‘Analogue’ are slightly different in frequency to the contemporary musical pitch and closely match those of the first tuning forks invented by the musician John Shore in 1711. Their frequencies constitute what is now known as the ‘philosophical’ pitch of tuning forks still used in medicine for the testing of hearing, the identification of bone fractures and for the examination of the peripheral nervous system:

C-256Hz D-288Hz E-320Hz F-341.3Hz G-384Hz A-425.6Hz B-480Hz

As a sound installation ‘Analogue’ is characterised by a formal simplicity which is paralleled by the works conceptual relation to fundamental conditions in general. The pure tones generated by tuning forks are the closest analogue means of producing sine waves – oscillations which constitute the most elementary building blocks of electronic music. Similarly, the frequencies of the chosen tuning forks correspond to a period in history when musical pitch first became reliably standardised; the purpose of tuning forks ordinarily belonging at the point before musical composition begins. In an infinitely broader sense, it is in Indian Vedanta philosophy that the primary importance of such oscillations is realised, where sound is considered not just as audible vibration but as the non-material source of all material form - the general basis for the composition of all that we are and for everything we see.


A set of tuning forks sounded in all possible combinations

4.1 surround sound installation.

28 minutes 15 seconds. 2012


The remaining two sound installations will be exhibited at Grundy from 11 Feb – 13 April and 22 April – 22 June 2013.

The Density of Air is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.