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An art exhibit about sound and music – Register Guard

Posted on by Lindsay

By Bob Keefer, The Register Guard

Eugene has long been called Track Town USA, but it might as well be called Music City, judging from an exhibit that opens with a reception Friday evening and runs through the month at Opus VII in Eugene.

“Designing Sound,” curated by Cindy Ingram, Opus’ now-departing director of membership and events, bills itself as “A Visual Exploration Into Sound and Music.”

Designing Sound: A Visual Exploration into Sound and Music

What that means, in fact, is that Ingram — who also works as a music promoter in town — has assembled a fascinating array of paraphernalia from just about every corner of Eugene’s music world.

“I expect visitors to find surprises around each corner,” she says. “Expect strange and delightful sounds coming from works of art, visual explanation of how sound is bent and transformed. There’s even a piece exposing the personal experience of musical creativity. Eugene has never seen anything like this before.”

The exhibit ranges from classically serious to impossibly quirky.

Eugene’s master organ builder, John Brombaugh, contributed photos of his massive pipe organs — no actual organs, unfortunately, as they tend to be less than portable — as well as a charming clavichord he once built.

Continuing in that classical vein, violin-maker David Gusset has a display of the stages of violin creation, starting with the raw wood.

At the other end of the spectrum, trumpeter Brian McWhorter, a University of Oregon School of Music and Dance professor, has contributed a Rube Goldberg-ish gadget he calls “The Extractorama” — an old-fashioned bathtub outfitted with everything from a telephone to a built in trumpet, at least of sorts.

In some ways, this might be a music exhibition for the hard of hearing. Instead of music itself, Ingram has assembled the accoutrements of music.

Billy Barnett’s Gung-Ho Studio is represented by a 1980s-vintage reel-to-reel recorder, perhaps once used to record the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies here.

Perhaps the coolest and most inscrutable of items on display is the “New Rage Ambient Metal Music Machine” by composer Don Haugen. He has wired a couple of iPods to speaker magnets behind three large flat panels of sheet metal. Just imagine the harmonic possibilities.

There are futuristic electric instruments, low-tech music posters and a parabolic reflector that’s fun to stand in front of and talk to.

In its latest incarnation, Opus VII has been steadily finding its way as a new venue for museumlike exhibits. This one is certainly an intriguing success.

Originally appeared: Thursday, June 29, 2011
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