Music for Incandescent Events (no.2, for Gibraltor Point) Sarah Peebles

for tape or installation (notes below) 06/23/04
in memory of Ethel C. Peebles, 1903-2004

for indoors: find a nice view of the sky’s changing colours
turn off your air conditioner or fan (or heat)
open the windows (put on a coat)
adjust your loudspeakers (or headphones, if outside)
sit quietly with the sunset and the music

for outdoors: listen on headphones, or if possible using loudspeakers; adjust volume to allow ambient noise to be audible to your liking.

Music for Incandescent Events: Sunset


Music for Incandescent Events is a time-based artwork which mediates our perception of the physical environment around us. Housed within a small water-proof container roughly the size of a large lunch box, its audio output is directed to the listener via loudspeakers, radio signal, internet broadcast or similar means.

Loudspeakers are arranged in an indoor or outdoor location selected for its view of the sky at sunset (not necessarily west-facing). The sky’s changing light at dusk is measured by sensors which trigger stored fragments of sound derived from the tones of the shô (Japanese mouth-organ). At the moment of the sun’s setting, rich organ-like tones emanate from the loudspeakers and shift slowly—mid, high and low frequencies intermingle and create unpredictable sum and difference tones and interference patterns, their intensity swelling and falling in broad sweeps—allowing for a contemplative, immersive viewing of the changing colours of the sky and of the surrounding landscape and soundscape.

The installation assembles a unique audio composition with each sunset: the sensors and microcontrollers measure the changes in light level, colour and cloud cover as the sun sets and convert this information into controller data. The pre-recorded audio is derived from several improvised short melodies and tones played on a slightly de-tuned shô, re-recorded several octaves lower than its original source, and stored as multiple files within three MP3 players which reside in the small weather-proof box along with the sensors and micro-controllers, their power supplied either via battery or an external solar panel. Recorded at very close range in stereo, with the player (Peebles) sitting near a reflective wall, the shifted audio results in rich beat patterns, sum/difference tones, and additional frequencies which, when heard at normal pitch, would be beyond the range of human hearing.

As noted above, Music for Incandescent Events can be experienced in a variety of settings: in stereo or with multiple loudspeakers, as a permanent or temporary artwork, as an installation affixed to a bench or to walls of a building, or received by the listener via radio frequency while walking or traveling by car (thus projecting audio in either a very personal space, or dispersed over a larger area, or something in between).

Music for Incandescent Events premiered as a part of WADE (June 25 — 27, 2004 Gibraltar Point/Toronto Islands;, and as part of “Scanning Nature”, a McLuhan International Festival of the Future exhibition at DeLeon White Gallery rooftop deck (October 9-17, 2004; During both festivals, the piece was a favorite of the public.

A ten-minute and twenty-minute demo audio version is on the web at; the direct link to the ten-minute version is A demo CD is available upon request. Previewing this work while watching the sunset (even from a small window catching some sunset colours) is a must, as the piece is about perception in specific settings.

  • Year of composition: 2004
  • Duration of the submitted work: 24:06
  • Production: Studio Excelo & CIUT-FM

More works by Sarah Peebles