Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument

Flanders Festival, Brussels, Belgium, 2003

Composer/instrument builder Ellen Fullman has spent the last twenty-four years developing her unique creation, The Long String Instrument (LSI). The LSI is composed of an array of bronze wires, twenty meters or more in length, strung near waist height across the performance space and terminating in wooden-box resonators that amplify the strings' sound. It is tuned in a variety of different just tunings, depending on the composition
to be performed. The Long String Instrument is played by rubbing the strings with rosined fingertips while walking along a pathway between banks of strings. Different overtones are emphasized as the performer moves past the harmonic nodes of each string. These overtones emerge as an array of higher-pitched harmonic relationships above the fundamental tone of each string. Sometimes these variations in overtone production seem to transform a single chord into entirely different harmonies. These changes can be heard in the music as motion, almost like a river moving past, always subtly changing, yet also seeming to remain the same. The physical scale of the installation and the interactions of the overtones with the installation space turn the respective room itself into a giant musical instrument.
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