Elly Jessop Nattinger, Experience Engineer

people + space (+ technology)

The Chandelier

As part of the opera Death and the Powers, the main character communicates with his wife through a giant chandelier that reveals itself as a musical instrument during a romantic interlude between the characters. The Chandelier's primary sound is a complex electronic mix created from the voice of the performer playing Simon Powers and other rich layers of sound. When the character of the wife strokes and strums the Teflon strings of the Chandelier, she controls these layers of sound in real time - bringing them out, dampening them, etc. She is able to physically touch and manipulate Power's voice. Additionally, when she plucks the strings, she can add more processed string-like sounds to the mix.

I developed the sensor system, the vocabulary of gestural interaction with the instrument, and the resulting manipulations of the sound of the instrument. The physical form of the Chandelier was designed by Steve Pliam in collaboration with the production designer for Death and the Powers, Alex McDowell.

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The Chandelier as played by the character of Evvy. Photo by Jonathan Williams.

A rendering of The Chandelier by Steve Pliam

The Chandelier's Teflon strings have sensors to detect when they are strummed, brushed, and plucked.