According to string theory in physics, every object in the universe and all matter is made up of tiny strings. They are too small to be perceivable, but their vibrations can be observed in the form of mass, gravity, and magnetic force. The difference between a human, a tree, and a stone only consists in the layout of the strings and the character of their vibrations. A vibrating string perfectly embodies the laws of physics. By using various methods of preparation, for instance attaching metal objects to the string which change its mass, coupling several strings into one organism with a metal bar, or using untypical inciters to make the string vibrate, we disturb the physics of oscillations. is produces extremely interesting sound results. Strings begin to vibrate in non-harmonic patterns; their sound becomes distorted, or they turn into an acoustic ring modulator.
Stringphony 3.0 is an interactive installation for twelve string instruments: the Hungarian citera (zither), crwth, Norwegian zither, bowed psaltery, Chinese yangqin (hammered dulcimer), cross zither, kinnor lyre, concert zither, Hawaiian (lap steel) guitar, guzheng (plucked zither), valiha (tube zither), and sarangi. These are predominantly folk instruments coming from different parts of the world. Some are widely disseminated in their respective cultures (the guzheng in China, the sarangi in India, the valiha in Madagascar), while others have gone out of use for various reasons (as did the zithers and the crwth, a bowed lyre popular in seventeenth-century Wales). Some have roots in the Antiquity (kinnor, guzheng), while others have appeared relatively recently (Hawaiian guitar and bowed psaltery). In Stringphony, these chordophones are used outside the context of the related music traditions and performance practices, as objects of sound experiments. Their untypical resonances and formants constitute an additional sound-related asset. The acoustic core of the installation is made up of several thousand samples recorded on these instruments using different sound production and preparation techniques, with special miking. All the instruments may also be played. The sounds produced on them by visitors to the installation become part of the sound texture that fills the space of Stringphony, entering into interactions with samples controlled by means of specialised software.
A slightly different version of this installation, without the interactive part, was presented at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in April 2022, promoting Wojciech Błażejczyk’s CD Music of Strings.