House music: David Byrne turns a building into a giant organ

The Roof Is On Wire
The Roof Is On Wire

With support from public art organisation Creative Time, Talking Heads founding member David Byrne has turned a 99-year-old New York ferry terminal into a giant organ, for a project appropriately titled: Playing The Building.

The team took an old Weaver pump organ and replaced its insides with wiring, relays and hosepipes. The wires are fitted to vibrating 110v motors on each ceiling girder while an attached pump blows air through the hoses and around the building´s heating pipes and conduits. Several spring-loaded valves also point toward a huge radiator.

David Byrne has no desire to compose or perform publicly on the architectural orchestra, but hopes to change the public´s perception of popular music: “I´m not suggesting people abandon musical instruments and start playing their cars and apartments, but I do think the reign of music as a commodity made only by professionals might be winding down”.

Playing The Building is open now and all visitors get the chance to take the building for a spin. You can watch a video of the organ in action here or see Creative Time for visiting information.

By Tom Porter

Tom Porter worked on MusicRadar from its mid-2007 launch date to 2011, covering a range of music and music making topics, across features, gear news, reviews, interviews and more. A regular NAMM-goer back in the day, Tom now resides permanently in Los Angeles, where he's doing rather well at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).