Toni Bernhart is a playwright, stage director and scholar of German literary studies at the University of Stuttgart. He has recently been experimenting with sounds of wire cables in ropeways to develop musical patterns.
Ropeways are the biggest string instruments in the world. Their wire cables can be played like strings that can be bowed or plucked or struck. In addition, they can capture vibrations from the surrounding air in diaphragm-like action.
Most of the ropeways are in the Alps. There are high tech gondolas and chairlifts and there are low tech ropeways for material transport. The older a ropeway is, the better it sounds.
When you play a wire cable of a ropeway you will hear nearly nothing with your ears because the cable is not connected to any resonator. However, an activated wire cable oscillates in a rather complex manner. The physics of acoustical instruments seem to be transcended by the enormous dimensions of the wire. The most stunning phenomenon are the echoes reverberating in the steel.
To catch these vibrations, I have tried out a lot of different contact microphones. In the end, I was happy with the Schertler Dyn Uni P 48. I like its linear character and its wide range of frequencies. The light weight allows to place it directly upon the oscillating cable using the adhesive putty. I have combined it also with other contact microphones for multichannel recording.
I love to play wire cables and I like their metallic, broad-band and flowered techno sound. I am very much looking forward to a lot of experimental recording sessions and research for musical patterns which I would like to use in a theatre project in the future.