Thursday Salute to Originals: Music With a Crystal Clear Sound

Glass Percussion Project Suspended Instruments

Few who nonchalantly trace their finger over a wine goblet’s rim realize the truly amazing acoustic potential of glass. While glass instruments can usually seen as the stuff of weddings and talent shows, few realize the innovation and artistry that go into the construction and playing of acoustic glass implements, utilizing techniques that often go back centuries. The Glass Percussion Project, headed by glass/installation artist Elaine Miles and percussionist/composure Eugene Ughetti, has changed perceptions of art and sound, fusing the beauty of installed pieces with the artistry of performance music.

Elaine Miles had been working as a glass artist for years before being inspired by street performers to explore the acoustic properties of her work. It took a percussion performance by Eugene Ughetti on the radio for the two to meet. In Ughetti, Miles found a collaborator who could realize the full potential belonging to her hundreds of glass pieces. The instruments range from tiny glass spheres and pipes, to glass bells and xylophones, to large glass panels and jugs. Each is hand-blown by Miles and her team and only later judged by Ughetti for its properties of pitch and timbre. Sometimes certain “sounds” are missing from repertoire and Miles must work to make another, an interesting action by glass blowers who usually concentrate only on the visual and structural properties of their work. Performing in museums, performance halls, and public spaces, these Australian based artists together produce mesmerizing, often haunting melodies that aim to recall the beauty and wonder of the world which surrounds.

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