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Graham Holliday

drawn to… Music On A Long Thin Wire – Alvin Lucier

This is the third in my small series—where I draw to a particular piece of music—hence the ‘drawn to..’ project title. I drew each of the four drawings below blind while listening to a 6 minute 43 seconds excerpt of Music on a Long Thin Wire by Alvin Lucier.
I used a Marvy Uchida For Drawing 003 black pen on a 10cm X 10cm piece of 250g acid-free clarirefontaine paper. After drawing all four pieces, I scanned them onto photographic paper and glued them onto white card (see below). The total size of this collage is 25 cm X 25 cm (ish).
Music on a Long Thin Wire is an amazing way of creating a piece of ever-changing music. The full liner notes are at the end of this post, but here is how the wire works,
… the wire is extended across a large room, clamped to tables at both ends. The ends of the wire are connected to the loudspeaker terminals of a power amplifier placed under one of the tables. A sine wave oscillator is connected to the amplifier. A magnet straddles the wire at one end. Wooden bridges are inserted under the wire at both ends to which contact microphones are imbedded, routed to a stereo sound system. The microphones pick up the vibrations that the wire imparts to the bridges and are sent through the playback system. By varying the frequency and loudness of the oscillator, a rich variety of slides, frequency shifts, audible beats and other sonic phenomena may be produced… link
It’s a method that has inspired many folk to have a go at creating it themselves.
I may adapt these drawings in the future as each of the four figures suggests something to me. However, I wanted to post the drawings in their raw format first which seems to be in keeping with how Lucier himself worked.

Graham Holliday is an editor, writer and media trainer with twenty years experience working on editorial, educational and digital projects for the BBC and others.