MUSIC OF THE SPHERE
Solar cells gracefully link technology with
the Earth’s natural resources, bringing
projects out of the dank, dusty workshop
and giving them a sustainable home with
the plants outside. This autonomous
xylophone uses Solarengine circuits and
pentatonic chimes to play in tune with
that big nuclear power plant in the sky.
Wind chimes capture wind energy to move metal tubes that
generate sound when they strike one another. They’re simple,
timeless, and beautiful. You can never predict the composition
the chimes will play after the next gust of wind, which is what
makes these inventions so compelling. The elegant overlay
they add to our experiences brings us closer to nature.
I wanted to create a different kind of autonomous musical
instrument that would, like wind chimes, generate tones from
a natural resource. So I made this solar xylophone, which gives
voice to the silent sun and takes the project (and ourselves)
outside, where we belong. It uses eight simple, independent
systems to strike its eight chimes in parallel. So you can lose
the power cord and forget the batteries, but be sure to bring
your suntan lotion.
Photograph by Kay Canavino
Set up: p. 101 Make it: p. 102 Use it: p. 107
Rory Nugent ( prize-pony.com) is a tinkerer who lives in New Jersey and loves to drink iced tea.
He is currently a student at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.