LACMA as Musical Instrument

September 22, 2010
Buildings, of course, have acoustic properties. But what about acoustic potential?

Musician and recent high school graduate Ben Meyers has carved himself a niche by using buildings and their various surfaces and surroundings as musical elements. His most recent performance: a song performed with his mallets and drumsticks on Renzo Piano’s new Resnick Pavilion at LACMA, which opens to the public early next month. A video of the piece, called Playing LACMA, was commissioned by the museum. “No one takes a second during the day and thinks of all the sounds that can be coming from their surroundings. Things that just seem so lifeless and things that you’re around every day,” Meyers said.

The sounds he found at the Resnick include melodic tones from travertine tiles on the wall, booming lows from the building’s oversized metal ventilation structures, and some surprisingly hollow sounds from various palm trees on site. With about 11 or 12 tracks of audio and video recorded on site, Meyers pulled everything together into the two-and-a-half minute video.