The World’s First Underwater Band

The sea proves unable to stop sound

July 6, 2016 5:00 am

Picture this: five giant aquariums, each containing a musician or vocalist. Over 10 years, composer/singer Laila Skovmand, her bandmates in Between Music, and an extremely inventive instrument-maker have turned what had seemed only a whimsical scene from The Little Mermaid into reality: making music under the sea. New Scientist documents the numerous, often unexpected challenges.

Says New Scientist‘s Sandrine Ceurstemont: “Andy Cavatorta, who invents unusual instruments and has collaborated with Björk, was up for the challenge. Although he had never worked with water before, he was aware of some of the constraints. Water is much denser than air and so dampens sound. Sound also travels about four times faster underwater, which makes it hard to get an instrument to resonate without making it impractically large. Friction also affects materials differently: a bow’s interaction with a string becomes slippery while smooth bearings become sticky. Finally, there’s the tank itself: interference with standing waves in the tank can change an instrument’s sound.”

Watch a performance from Between Music below.

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