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  • Writer's pictureStuart Orchard

2020 Stuff

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

2020 grinds onwards... but despite everything, we continue to be very fortunate in Perth. I have been reasonably unaffected by lockdowns/COVID and afforded a lot of space and freedom to explore music on my own and with friends and colleagues.

My formal music studies at WAAPA will be completed at the end of semester, which brings mixed emotions. I am looking forward to the next phase of life, but it has gone so quickly and I feel there is so much more to learn - I guess art forms are like that.

In my final Honours year I have looked deeper into aeolian guitar and harp music with encouragement by Head of Composition Lindsay Vickery. I found what I thought was a gap in literature about interacting with aeolian harps, ordinarily left alone to sound in the wind. A bunch of people advise against messing with a wind harp as it does its thing, and I confirm this is not without good reason, the untouched sound of this instrument is eerie and enchanting. Attempting to involve oneself in the music without killing its its inherent musical essence is not without some challenges.

My idea was to build an aeolian harp but apply some devices to it in order to interact with the music driven by nature. In the photo below, you can see the aeolian harp and the tube in my hand - an early prototype of the tactuators...

​(In Ningaloo no less!)

Now that is finished (in a preliminary sense - that is, the harp is built and the interactive devices applied), I've called the interactive devices Tactuators - a combo of 'tactile' and 'actuator'.

Continuing construction @ #ElementalSound

There are a bunch of refinements to do and eventually fixing it to a stand as seen in the sketches. At this stage, they're looking like...

Tactuators are now enclosed in felt casing, for ease of sliding.

Testing out the IAH and final tactuator prototype outside the delightfully windy Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

It has been a fun adventure and I feel very fortunate to be able to do this.

I need to give big thanks and love to Mark Ralph of Elemental Sound in O'Connor for being my benefactor in offering free work space for this project. I have thoroughly enjoyed and, i think, made the most out of this opportunity, finally having an appropriate workplace. Whilst there I have fallen in love with the soundscape at 45 Ladner St - industrial sounds, an animal-like squeaky forklift in the distance and the wind hooting its way across warehouse roofs. Another big thanks and love to Gary Lack and Alex Sambell, new friends and collaborators in building IAH. I definitely could not have done without their building expertise, assistance, enthusiasm and generosity. The same goes for Jean-Michel Maujean and The Perth Artifactory for these same factors earlier in the year, where with Jean-Michel's mentoring we built an experimental musical instrument Diadophone - a two stringed monochord with early attempts at applying interactive devices the touchpad levers.

Another final piece of fabulous personal news is I got married in August. What luck! Fran (Orchard!!!) has given endless support, help and encouragement of my musical endeavours, and returning to university as a middle-aged guy to follow my passion, for which I am eternally grateful. I could not have done all this without her. I'm a lucky guy.

Me and Fran, getting married and stuff!

What a time!

Peace, love and strength always,


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