Giant Steel Chimes

Ask Questions, Make Stuff

“Chimes” were the foundation of our found art premise within the project, Liminal Qualia. Dating back to May, 2018, they have come a long way to standing freely as they do today.

These 5 sections of hardened steel pipe with a diameter of 4.5” were discovered in the garage behind Rowan University’s art building, Westby Hall.

Robert was hit with a grounding question, “What do those sound like?” — tink

With some research done between Nathan and Robert, they learned about how the length and diameter of the chime, the material and thickness of the material, and the hang-point all relate to the resonating noise and pitch any tube shaped object could give off.

Gratefully, they stumbled upon a Google spreadsheet that enabled them to plug in their specifications of material, which resulted in a detailed layout for length and hang-point relative to every chromatic note on a piano. They were stoked to realize just how big they could possibly be.

spreadsheet link

The notes initially decided upon were simply a C Major Pentatonic scale and octave below Middle C (C4). Knowing this selection of tones could sound like a toy instrument, we decided to start the series on the A3 note. This resulted in an A minor Pentatonic scale, giving a minor third interval between the lowest in pitch/longest in length chime, and it’s successor, C4. With dimensions set in stone, involved help/tool operation from Jim Greenwell at Rowan University, the pipes were cut and the hang-points drilled.

Through trial and error, stationary stands and mobile (fits-in-the-pickup-truck), “Chimes” were fully realized in mid-summer 2019 and unveiled at an interactive, integrated backyard art gathering intentionally titled, “Chime-On.”

Since then, the piece has had momentary lapses on the grounds of Rowan University’s Center for Art and Social Engagement, and The Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington’s Crossing.

“Chimes” reside in free-standing form at The Whyte House, ready to play at any given chance, or ready to disassemble, travel, reassemble, and exist elsewhere.