Nick Ryan
James Boags – Meteorphonium

A real-time weather-transforming musical instrument experience

The Meteorphonium is a mechanical musical instrument that transforms the unpredictable Tasmanian weather into music. Created by audio specialist Nick Ryan, it performs an evolving piece of music controlled, in real time, by the local weather.

The various components of the instrument (8 brass singing bowls, a central ‘tongue drum’, an analog synthesiser and natural field recordings taken from the local area) are mechanically controlled to act as an ensemble, for which a 'rule based' score has been composed.

The score is continuously 'conducted' by changing levels of light, wind speed, wind direction, humidity and atmospheric pressure. The instrument is connected to a small weather station, 50 meters away, which supplies a live stream of these data.

Eight smaller related instruments called "Meteorphones" are hung from trees nearby. These instruments sense changes in light levels (as the sun goes behind a cloud for example) and react with mechanical movements to produce tinkling and clicking sounds.