Syncopation and New York City

Numbers on the Board

Sound sculpture, symbolizing the cycles of time and alignment during the Mannhattan-Henge events in New York City

Numbers on the Board is a sculptural installation, designed for the Manhattan-Henge events, during the months of May through July.

Manhatten-Henge is the solar phenomenon that occurs every summer in New York City, where two nights a year, the sunset perfectly aligns with the streets on Manhattan. This allows pedestrians to see the sunset over the horizon through the tall skyscrapers, and the sun can be seen through to the other side of Manhattan, into Brooklyn.

To emphasis how special these moments of alignment are, myself, John Capogna, and Allison Burtch created a sound installation, designed to live on the Tudor Bridge on 42nd Street. Using the sonic alignment of polyphonic rhythms, Numbers on the Board uses five gears, each with 42, 43, 44, 45, and 46 teeth, to create an ever-evolving melody, and all notes perfectly align every 44 days. If started during the first occurrence of Manhatten-Henge, the gears would play for two months, and then aligning again during the exact moment of the second Manhatten-Henge, 44 days latter.

The sculpture uses metal tongs, inspired by the African Mbira, to create a soothing, yet percussive melody. The Mbira is designed to perform polkyphonic melodies, and seems like a perfect fit.

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