Chorus For Untrained Operator

Chorus for Untrained Operator is a collection of discarded objects, each relieved of its original responsibilities and modified to emphasize its musical voice. The ensemble is operated via the patchbay of a repurposed 1940s telephone switchboard. 

The objects -- an electric tie rack, an 8mm projector, an animated shoe, a sewing machine -- are chosen for their audiovisual characteristics, and lightly modified to produce the varied voices of the mechanized chorus. Each time the piece is installed, new objects are found and older objects evolve (and break).

The installation is an instrument and all are welcome to patch and re-patch the choir by operating the switch board. There are 22 cables on the patch bay, and each can be used to activate one of over fifty voices -- thousands of possibilities. The switchboard also has 22 buttons that momentarily trigger other objects, allowing for more immediate modes of play. The result is a room-sized system of reanimating readymades that can be called, performed, and left in a wide range of states and textures.

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Score sheets depicting the patchbay layout are supplied, allowing visitors to notate their own arrangements with the instrument, and to leave those arrangements for future visitors to perform.

The original installation was commissioned by the Creative Arts Council at Brown University and was first installed in the Cohen Gallery at the Granoff Center in Providence RI. Chorus for Untrained Operator is a collaboration with Stephan Moore and was developed and installed with help from Asha Tamirisa and Tim Rovinelli.

The characteristics of the installation space influence how the chorus sounds and how people interact with the switchboard and objects. Each time the piece is installed, it changes significantly.


2016        Cohen Gallery, Providence


2016-7    Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts, New York


2018       NIME Conference, Blacksburg