The Record Player Orchestra

The Record Player Orchestra is an interactive and performative installation exploring the possibilities of collaborative and symbiotic manipulation of sound through physical engagement with record players/turntables using a specially recorded vinyl record that was mastered at Abbey Road Studios and pressed at the Vinyl Factory pressing plant.

In the Record Player Orchestra the record player/turntable becomes an instrument that can be played by placing a stylus on the vinyl record which will then play a sound. This physical engagement with the vinyl record is key to the activity as sound is produced only when the stylus is physically placed on the vinyl record. No prior skill or expertise is needed to do this and, as with most aspects of the Record Player Orchestra, all participants are beginners at playing and all become more adept during their playing. By discovering how to play the record player, participants can start to understand the qualities and particularities of this instrument, what kind of playing might be possible and what might be more problematic.

There are a number of ways in which the Record Player Orchestra functions but it usually starts with individuals exploring the tracks on both sides of the vinyl record. Depending on this initial exploration, how it is installed and whether other players have gathered, any or all the following can occur.

Once an individual has investigated the tracks on the vinyl record they can then set up the other record players/turntables so that different tracks are playing at the same time. Once they feel that they have something that they are satisfied with, a recording is make.

When more than one individual gathers and they investigate the tracks on the vinyl record, connections with what others are playing can be heard and they start to consider how the different tracks could combine. After a period of time working together, the group will then choose to make a recording.

Meetings have been arranged when a group of players have requested to spend some time together either to test a pre-written composition or to to generate new ones through improvisations. For these sessions it is common for a score to have been created for the group to play and these scores have ranged from a series of instructions to visual material that require interpretation.