Natural Frequencies: New Media Carillon Installation and Performance

ThumbnailA new media Carillon installation and performance in honor of the 100th Anniversary
of UC Berkeley’s Sather Tower (the Campanile)

February 3, 2015
3 ten-minute live performances: 6:30, 7, 7:30

Bell towers have been used for centuries as a medium to effectively convey time, calls to prayer and community events, and warnings about invasions, fires, and floods. Although the latter are rare on the UC Berkeley campus, Sather Tower is located directly above the Hayward Fault Line, where a major earthquake is considered likely in the next 30 years.

This installation and performance includes a unique composition of bells
(both recorded and live) and lighting modulated in real time by data from
the UC Berkeley seismometer inside the Hayward Fault. The title refers
to the response of structures and systems to external forces.


Carillonists: Jeff Davis and Tiffany Ng
Concept: Ken Goldberg, Ed Campion, Greg Niemeyer, and Perrin Meyer
Music Composition: Ed Campion
Lighting Design: Greg Niemeyer and Jeff Lubow
Sound Design: Ed Campion and Jeff Lubow
Seismic System Design: Sanjay Krishnan
Event Design and Documentation: Amy Hamaoui , LaDawn Duvall, Colin Ho, Alex Turney

Special thanks to Meyer Sound for event audio and lighting, Richard Allen,
Doug Neuhouser, and Peggy Hellweg of the UC Berkeley Seismological
for the live data feed, the Center for New Music and Audio
Technologies (CNMAT)
and the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM).

Listen to a sample of the Natural Frequencies music here.


Natural Frequencies Feature by KQED

KQED Arts featured BCNM’s recent performance ‘Natural Frequencies‘ with an enthusiastic review of the show and the awareness it brings to the earth’s movement beneath us. The show achieved its goal of bringing a new connection through technology and art to the world around us and the technical feat of bringing Sather Tower into the 21st century with new purpose and vim.


KTVU Spotlights Natural Frequencies

To offer another view of the Natural Frequencies performance, KTVU came to the February 3rd Sather Tower centennial performance. Constructed in 1915, Sather Tower has long been a symbol of UC Berkeley and a Bay Area landmark. Natural Frequencies adds another layer to its identity, bringing together people to celebrate the wonder of the earth’s eternal change and share concerns about upcoming seismological events.


Natural Frequencies Revisited

Natural Frequencies commenced the Sather Tower Centennial with a ‘shake’ as crowds gathered to watch and listen to a musical and visual performance like no other. Connecting real time seismological data to the carillon of Sather Tower, the Natural Frequencies production team was able to produce a surreal and thought provoking musical manifestation of the tectonic shift going on underneath our feet. The performance brought a new perspective on the earth’s internal workings which are too often ignored in the seismologically active Bay Area and a 21st century musical facelift to one Cal’s most beloved icons.

Check out photos from the event:

Alex Turney’s wonderful recording of the performance:

Natural Frequencies from alex turney on Vimeo.

And we were watching too! Take a look at our take of Natural Frequencies:

Embed YouTube video of crowd watching the performance from below


“Natural Frequencies” on NPR

NPR featured the “Natural Frequencies” installation and performance in Shake, Rattle and Toll: Berkeley’s Bells Play Sounds of Earth. Author Laura Sydell discusses Bay Area fault lines, data visualization, the process of generating the score for the carillons, and the re-imagination of bell-tower history and purpose.