Musical Automata

Publik Secrets member George Rahi has developed a collection of kinetic sound installations at our Hadden Park fieldhouse studio and elsewhere, blending programmed/electronic music and acoustic instruments in sculptural forms.

Composed by Richard D. James (Aphex Twin), ‘aisatsana’ is a Satie-esque piano piece inviting stillness and careful listening to one’s surroundings. This mechanical and acoustic reproduction of ‘aisatsana’ uses a 100-year-old player piano to play a custom-made roll of the piece. Set in Hadden Park, the piano is recorded alongside visiting starlings and crows in the canopy above, creating a “live” version of the bird song heard in Aphex Twin’s original version on the 2014 ‘Syro’ album. An homage to Richard’s signature blurring of the acoustic, electronic, and automatic, the meeting of the programmed player piano and the park’s incidental soundscape invites one to reflect on notions of soundscape composition, ‘liveness’, and automation.


otonomi is a kinetic musical sculpture built using custom made electro-mechanical devices, metallophones, pipe organ, and drums to merge densely programmed electronic music techniques with acoustic instruments in sculptural form.


Pulsars is a sound installation that uses mechanical rotary speakers to explore sound, movement, and pulse. The work re-configures technologies associated with early 20th century era organ building tradition, when electronics were attempting to synthesize and recreate the acoustics of pipe organs. During this time, Donald Leslie invented the ‘Leslie’ rotary speaker to mimic the sonic quality of large, spatially dispersed pipe organs. In this piece I use 4 channel ‘Leslie’ rotary speaker array to sound a 25-minute composition to produce polyrhythmic  pulses and a heightened awareness of the environment’s spatial dynamics. The composite effect for the listener is a morphing and dynamic sense of space choreographed by the re-localizing movement of sound through the air.

Pulsars was featured at Vancouver New Music’s 2016 Mechanical Music Festival.