Frequent Sea makes use of beat frequencies, interference patterns that occur between two pure waveforms that are very close in frequency.
Most of the time we think of listening as a static act. However, changing positions can greatly affect our perception of sound and space. A room’s architecture and its resonances can create radically different listening experiences in different places. Many of the principles of hearing that help us locate objects or navigate a space also influence how we hear music.
By creating a spatial network of these beat frequencies, it's possible to experience the collisions of multiple beat frequencies very differently, depending on where you are standing, or where you place your head.
Specifically designed for the Kanbar Forum’s Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system at the Exploratorium, Frequent Sea is a dynamic composition and audio installation that visitors perceptually co-created by walking through the space and standing in various locations. As steady, pure tones are gradually introduced at different points around the room, increasingly complex polyrhythms and melodies emerge from the physical collision of sound waves in both space and ears. Each listener is left with a singular, embodied experience.
While it's not possible to re-create these spatial relationships, some examples of the polyrhythmic beats can be heard below. All rhythms are created by various combinations of steady sine tones. When listening on headphones it's possible to break the rhythms apart into smaller components by listening to one channel at a time.
This installation was a collaboration with Barry Threw for the Exploratorium in 2014.