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do not break anything (after christian wolff)

by douglas irving repetto

A Christian Wolff prose piece from the late 1960s called Stones describes different ways to make music with stones, and ends with a request: "Do not break anything." I was thinking about Christian's text as I worked on this piece.

do not break anything consists of a large, slowly spinning turntable covered with a variety of rocky surfaces, and three robotic tone arms (like the arm on a record player) with various objects (a stone, a piece of metal, a piece of wood) at the ends. As the tone arms move to different parts of the turntable and lower their "needles" to the surface, different kinds of sounds are created.

The robotic tone arms are improvisers. They have some naive understanding of what their comrades are doing, and they use that information and some simple rules to generate their improvised behavior. The result is a quietly complex sound world drawn out of simple stones.

douglas irving repetto is an artist, teacher, performer, programmer and designer of electronic objects. He is based in New York City, where he teaches at the Columbia University Computer Music Center. His work, including installations, performances, recordings and lectures has been presented internationally. He also curates and produces events in New York City, including dorkbot ("People doing strange things with electricity") and ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show. When he's not teaching or making art, douglas spends much of his time cooking, coveting buildings and socializing with members of the plant kingdom.

thanks and credits:

Thanks to the Columbia University Computer Music Center for allowing me to spend my time doing interesting and silly things. Thanks to David Liatti of Glide Inc. for lots of help with the turntable motor and Isami Ching for general mechanical advice. Stones is published by Frog Peak Music. acb + dir


douglas irving repetto
Frog Peak Music
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