From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Golden Gate Bridge is not the graceful beauty it seems from a distance. It is noisy. It hums with traffic and bellows sometimes with the sounds of foghorns.
At other times, the wind whistles through its cables, and in the background is a constant sound of the cries of seabirds, not to mention the Pacific Ocean.
Musicians look at the bridge differently. Mickey Hart, the former Grateful Dead drummer, sees the Golden Gate Bridge as a "giant wind harp." He plans to be at Crissy Field on Sunday evening, the bridge's 75th birthday, to perform an original composition.
The bridge will be the star. "The most famous bridge in America," Hart said, "is actually a musical instrument."
Hart will be performing on a 23-foot-long stainless steel model of the Golden Gate Bridge, built by engineers at the Exploratorium, accompanied, as it were, by recorded sounds of the bridge itself, a process he calls "sonification."
At the same time, the bridge trembles a bit, which is its own sound.
Mix in the foghorns, a sort of fugue that is the signature sound at the Golden Gate, twist and turn the sounds electronically, use multiple tracks and you hear the frequencies and the harmonics of the bridge. The result is something McKechnie calls "very musical."
Do not think, however, that anyone can go out and hit the bridge with a rubber hammer in the name of science and music. The authorities take a dim view of this. McKechnie and his associates found this out years ago, when their first attempt to record the bridge sounds drew a pair of California Highway Patrol officers with drawn guns.
Something similar happened to Hart, back when he had long hair and was a nobody. He was "unceremoniously escorted off" the bridge twice, he said. "Once in handcuffs."
But time and science marched on, and now a remastered Synthesizer Ensemble CD featuring the "50th Anniversary Suite" is on sale at the new Golden Gate visitor center.
Golden Gate Bridge Festival
Former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and his band will perform his new opus inspired by the sounds of the Golden Gate Bridge at 10 p.m. Sunday at Crissy Field. Admission is free.
Read more: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/...D9.DTL#ixzz1vXgBk7Px
From National Geographic:
MAY 14, 2012
Mickey Hart To Play Golden Gate Bridge
Grateful Dead Drummer To "Sonify" San Francisco Icon in May
by Tom Pryor
We've been a fan of Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's extracurricular musical activities for decades.
Whether its Hart's extensive field work as a collector of indigenous songs or his recent work making music out of deep space transmissions, Hart has been at the bleeding edge of some of the most interesting intersections of music, sound and technology. Which is why his latest project - an upcoming concert where he'll "play" San Francisco's storied Golden Gate Bridge like a musical instrument - looks like so much fun.
According to a recent press release, Hart will perform an original composition using the natural sounds of the bridge itself - which he compares to a "giant windharp - at San Francisco's Crissy Field on May 27th, 2012.
We're not entirely sure we get it either, but the whole thing just sounds too cool to miss. Full details and explanation in the full press release below...
In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, Mickey Hart, two-time Grammy winning artist and percussionist of the Grateful Dead, will perform an original composition of the sounds of the bridge at Crissy Field on May 27th. As Hart will tell you, the Golden Gate Bridge is not simply a bridge; it is a giant wind-harp. "The most famous bridge in America is actually a musical instrument, which sings its signature song every day, yet its song has never been heard before," says Hart. "Imagine hearing the bridge as intensely as you hear an intimate whisper, a scary scream, an ever-present low-level hum."
To compose the piece, Hart used data from accelerometers placed all over the span, and "sonified" the data with the help of Mark Ballora of Penn State, Ben Yonas and Jonah Sharp. "Sonification is the process of converting information and data into music," explains Hart. "These accelerometers, designed primarily for seismic events, monitor vibrations of the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge vibrates from its toes (earth, water) to its thighs (pillars of cement and steel), to its torso and crown (air, sky). We have created a musical soundscape based on the real sounds of the bridge."
Hart will be performing his work live on a 23-foot long, stainless steel scale model of the Golden Gate Bridge. "Our replica of the bridge, which I like to call Bridget, was built by a team of Exploratorium designers and engineers, and this model will be used in our performance to play the extraordinary sounds we have captured."
Hart has many reasons for "sonifying" the iconic bridge. "The bridge connects. It links space and place above, below and across. It spans landscape and memory; it joins life and lore. Passengers below in boats, along its deck in cars, and above in planes, all experience the bridge. When the 1.7-mile long suspension span opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was instantly acknowledged among the technological and engineering wonders of the world. Seventy-five years later, it remains inspiringly beautiful, a lasting symbol of California, of human tenacity and ingenuity, beloved by our city and visited annually by millions of people from around the world."
Joining Hart on stage for the performance will be the Mickey Hart Band, which released their latest album, Mysterium Tremendum, in April, where Hart "sonified" the sounds of the universe going all the way back to the big bang, transferring light waves into sound waves.
The Mickey Hart Band will perform their tribute to the bridge on May 27th at 10pm on the Crissy Field Stage in San Francisco, CA as the finale of the Golden Gate Bridge Festival.
The 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge is a project of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in collaboration with the National Park Service, Presidio Trust, and the City & County of San Francisco. Anniversary events include the Golden Gate Festival along the San Francisco waterfront on May 27, 2012; and 75 Tributes to the Golden Gate Bridge, a year-long series of public programs by community organizations presented throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012.