Kite Choir

The Kite Choir is an ensemble of custom-made kites and sound instruments that builds upon traditions of singing kites. The sound instruments in these existing traditions are carried aloft by the kites they are attached to, as the voice-box of an assemblage brought to life by the wind. The Kite Choir instead utilizes the reel and entire tow-line of the kite as the sites of instrumentation, to promote a collaborative chain of agency between atmosphere and pilot/performer. It functions as its own regime of perception, an aesthetic practice of attunement with the atmosphere.

The instruments developed so far include ribbon tow-lines attached to contact mics and portable mini-amps; tin-can resonator reels; acoustic and electric “hurdy-gurdy” reels of various sizes and materials. The score for the choir, written by the electroacoustic musician and composer Paula Matthusen, provides a set of instructions contingent upon varying aeolian, climatic, temporal, and psychological conditions. This score is printed as decks of “playing cards,” based on flag signaling systems. The videos included here are some of the “soundings” in the ongoing development of the project.

Ribbon Reels

Polyester ribbon, brass/aluminum/wood/steel plates, piezoelectric pickups, recorder or preamp +/- miniamp. 2018-2019.

Kite Choir Sounding: May 10, 2019, Seydisfjordur (excerpt). Brass Plate Ribbon Reel. 

Hurdy-Gurdy Reels

Rosined fishing line, modified fishing reel, guitar string or music wire, wood frames, made and found soundboxes +/- piezoelectric or magnetic pickups, and mini-amps. 2018-2020.

Kite Choir Sounding: June 9, 2019, Seyðisfjörður (excerpt B). Electric Hurdy-Gurdy Reel.

Resonator Reels

Fishing line, fishing reels modified with rosined acrylic lip, wood bridges, found resonators +/- piezoelectric pickups. 2018.

Kite Choir Sounding: June 11, 2019. Seyðisfjörður, Iceland. Double cookie can resonator reels.

Kite Choir Score

The Kite Choir score, by Paula Matthusen, provides sets of variable instructions based on climatic, aeolian, temporal, and psychological conditions. The score is printed as a deck of playing cards, designed and fabricated by Kaitlin McCoy.

The project has been supported by a residency at Heima, in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland; the 20 Artists / 20 Parks Initiative by Iowa Arts Council and Department of Natural Resources; the Daniel J. Huberty Faculty Fellowship from the Department of Architecture, and a Research Grant from the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, at Iowa State University.

Kite Choir Soundings