The Musical Fence


Aluminum, Concrete

6’2” x 9” x 21’

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An interactive musical sculpture, which was designed and completed in 1980 for the City of Cambridge, commissioned by the Cambridge Arts Council.  It was installed outside Cambridge City Hall, but following some over-enthusiastic nocturnal playing of the fence, it was subsequently removed from its original site and is now on loan to The DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA and the Montshire Museum in Norwich, VT.

The Musical Fence consists of a concrete beam holding sixty vertical aluminum pipes, each equal in diameter cut at different heights and tuned to different notes.  The passer-by walks along the length of the fence striking each pipe with a stick or their knuckles to hear the music that the fence will play.  The undulating profile of the sculpture was determined as much by the desired sound sequence as by visual concerns.  The Musical Fence is long enough to allow a number of people to play at the same time.