I Was Drowned Out By Sound

1st performance: Artculture Resource Centre, Toronto, 1983

Performance consisting of several pieces:

Secret Piano Piece

(Assistant performer: Sandor Ajzenstat)

A black curtain is draped around a grand piano and a performer hides under the piano before the audience enters the space. As the pianist approaches the piano, the hidden performer begins to play the pedal mechanism by pushing upward on the shafts attaching the sustain pedal to the dampers on the strings. This causes the piano strings to resonate, although the pianist has not yet arrived at the keyboard. Once the pianist sita at the keyboard, he takes over the action of resonating the strings using the damper mechanism. Eventually he makes a transition to playing excerpts from Piano Mechanics.


An electric guitar sent through a fuzz & distortion box is de-tuned and re-tuned at high volume, creating sustained and distorted feedback sound. The strings are eventually de-tuned to the point where they dangle loosely and are then tightened by manually pulling them across the guitar pick-ups, so that the pick-ups become the bridge for the strings.

Tape Pulling

A recording of electronically generated percussive sounds created on a Buchla Electric Music Box synthesizer is prepared on reel-to-reel tape. The tape is pulled by hand through the playback heads of a tape recorder, without using a take-up reel. The end of the tape is pulled several metres past the tape recorder and tied to a stationary object. Then the tape recorder is picked up and carried around, so that the tape is pulled through the playback heads at variable speeds, which depend upon the speed of movement of the tape recorder itself. The tape recorder is then placed in a stationary position and the tape is broken by hand and pulled into the audience. The end of the tape is given to audience members and passed around so that the audience can play the tape themselves by pulling it at various speeds through the tape recorder. At the end of the piece, the broken and tangled pieces of tape lay in piles on the ground. These piles of tape become sculptural objects representing audio garbage.

© Gordon Monahan 1983

photos by Chris Devonshire