Devil's Water - playing violins with a river, or playing a river with violins? Bennett Hogg and Michael Bridgewater, Devil's Water near Dilston, Northumberland, April 2013
Playing violins by immersing them into the flowing water of a river is a technique I developed back in 2012. The force of the water "bows" the strings, rather like an aquatic form of an aeolian harp. However, it is possible to have quite a high degree of control over the sounds. Certain strings will only sound in faster running currents, whereas other sound with almost no water flow at all. The different string will produce often quite strongly differentiated harmonic spectra depending on the force of the water. Pushing against the flow causes not just crescendi but dramatic changes in the sweep of harmonics, allowing quite forceful gestures to be made. Letting the violins move with the flow causes silences as the resistance against the water falls away. There are a number of written accounts of this project in the "writings" section of the site.
This improvisation was done by Michael Bridgewater, a Newcastle-based composer and improviser, and myself one day in April 2013. My wife, Merrie Snell filmed and produced the video, and Phil Begg, another of the leading lights of the Newcastle music scene was the recording engineer.