Wrong Notes

Horn speakers, tripods, microphone stands, 12v motors, interval timers, clock chimes, coat hangers, steel, timber, audio equpiment

Commissioned by OCT LOFT in shinzen, (China), Ross Manning’s Wrong Notes is driven by a desire to build instruments that define their own rules for rhythm, beat, and tone. Chimes, hangers, and other found metal objects are struck by spinning string—each layered engagement between objects builds a constantly evolving and unrepeatable self-playing orchestra. Horn speakers amplify instruments—underscoring symbols of governance to the performance. The title offers an implicit challenge to the field of conventional music—questioning how a sound can be designated as either acceptable or wrong. Manning aims to build a new language, logic, and rules for the sounds generated by his custom instruments:

“Creating instruments is like building a tool which generates the sound itself and you have governance of what’s good or bad, and what’s right or wrong. They have their own language, no wrong notes, just individual personal taste. In the design of how it’s tuning and what they look like— there is no contention in how the work plays.” —Manning, in conversation about Wrong Notes 2022

Wrong Notes is encircled by a distinct curved timber structure built in collaboration with local architects.  This backdrop dually acts as audience seating and a resonance chamber—drawing out the unique timbres of each note. 

Wrong Notes, 2017