A Song for Sky Bells
by Le Tuan Hung
A new work for power pole bells, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither), Balinese suling (end-blown flute) and Oceanian panpipes
A Song for Sky Bells is a composition for power pole bells, Vietnamese zither dan tranh , Balinese flute suling , and Oceanian panpipes. Power pole bells are unique Australian instruments. They are galvanised iron caps made by the State Electricity Company of Victoria to fit on the top of electricity poles made from tree trunks of varying diameters. Their function was to protect the poles from the weather and for mounting insulators above the poles. Since 1996, Australian composer Anne Norman has been collecting these bells for use as musical instruments and components of sound sculptures.
When I first touched these bells, I had the impression that their richness of frequencies and harmonics was the result of years of absorbing waves of vibrations from the winds and electric cables under the Australian sky. This impression is musically realised by the interaction of sounds of the bells, the dan tranh and the wind instruments. Frequencies and pitches are transmitted from one instrument to another in the process of generating melodies and layers of music. A Song for Sky Bells is music generated from the power pole bells after years of absorbing sounds in silence.
This project was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.