Arts & Culture

Watch: Composer Plays 70-Foot-Long Instrument In UH’s Architecture Building

The massive instrument has 40 stainless steel and bronze strings — 20 on each side.

American composer Ellen Fullman has set up her nearly 70-foot-long string instrument in the atrium of the University of Houston’s architecture school, as part of Houston’s CounterCurrent arts festival.

It has 40 stainless steel and bronze strings — 20 on each side — and Fullman walks through the middle of them, rubbing her rosin-coated fingertips on the strings to produce sound. “It’s essentially like bowing any string instrument, only I’m doing it along the length, which sets up a different mode of vibration,” Fullman said.

She’s been doing this for more than 30 years.

“I just wanted to hear something new,” she said. “I was a sculptor and I was experimenting with noise-making, and accidentally discovered this, which led me on a very long step-by-step trek to improve the timbre of the instrument.”

Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m. Fullman will play “The Watch, Reprise, 2016,” an hour-long piece in the atrium of the Hines College of Architecture and Design.

She says the sound and style of playing varies depending on the venue.  

“I’m just getting used to this room, and what’s happening here,” she said. “Different rooms, bring out different kinds of qualities and I would say different styles of playing.”

Fullman’s performance is just one component of CounterCurrent19, an interdisciplinary arts festival that runs April 9 through Sunday, April 14.

All events are free, though ticket reservations are required in some cases. More information can be found here.

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