Music On A Long Thin Wire

Music On A Long Thin Wire is a musical piece by Alvin Lucier conceived in 1977.

Alvin Lucier behind the horseshoe magnet used to induce vibrations to the wire (Coverdetail from the LP, Lovely Music 1980)

In his own words (1992): "Music on a Long Thin Wire is constructed as follows: 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."[1]

However, Lucier admits a long thin wire was at first only used to avoid the look of an laboratory experiment in favour of a more sculptural appearance, a short thin wire would have worked as well.[2] He discovered that the best way to produce variation in the sonic phenomena was to pick a setting and leave the setup alone. He praised David Rosenboom for his ability to pick interesting settings.[3]

It has been exhibited:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 (1992). Album Notes for Music on a Long Thin Wire at
  2. Alvin Lucier (2005). Reflexionen. Interviews, Notationen, Texte / Reflections. Interviews. Scores. Writings. 2nd edition, MusikTexte, Cologne, p. 186 (Dual-language English / German)
  3. Dorothea E. Hast, James R. Cowdery, Stanley Arnold Scott (1999). Exploring the World of Music: An Introduction to Music from a World Music Perspective, p.284. ISBN 978-0-7872-7154-1

External links

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