York University
2001 TEL
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3
416.736.2100 ext. 33616

Concordia University
Department of
Communication Studies
7141 Sherbrooke W.,
L-CJ 3.329
Montreal, QC  H4B 1R6
514.848.2424, ext. 2535




///Friction is a research-creation project that explores the potential of using  bicycles to create and manipulate sounds.  A performative sound installation piece involving three bicycles that have been transformed into musical instruments, ///Friction raises questions about alternative ways to utilize the bicycle, and draws attention to the rich depth of sounds that can be recorded directly from a bicycle or from sound walks that capture sounds one may encounter on a bike ride through the city.  This project is concerned with the intersecting dynamics that emerge from participatory sound art and the bicycle, music and soundscape, nature and the urban landscape, space, place, energy, emotion and the senses. 


 Primary Reasearcher/Artist: Claire Kenway


 This project explores fundamental research questions surrounding issues of art as a tool for inspiration, transformation of sounds into music,and new ways of conceptualizing and utilizing the bicycle, as a musical instrument and an integrated mode of transportation.  ///Friction draws attention to the sounds we encounter all around us; sounds of the city--of cars rushing by, of nature--birds chirping and leaves rustling in the wind, and juxtaposes those sounds with rhythms, seemingly drums and bass, created entirely from sounds recorded from a bicycle, and electronic bleeps and blorps, sonic artifacts created by the act of manipulating these sounds using specially modified bicycles as instruments.


The end result of this project will be the design and construction of three musical bikes, presented both as a participatory sound installation piece and a performance in a variety of different public spaces and contexts. Together they will form a bicycle trio.  This trio will be specially engineered and programmed, crafted into a performance that blurs the boundaries between soundscape and music, a myriad of atmospheric textures enveloping distinctive melodies, harmonies, and rhythms; a soundscape that evolves into a song. 


Whether recorded directly from a bike, generated live by a bicycle during the performance, or recorded along soundwalks to reflect the sounds that may be heard along the journey, every sound will reveal the capabilities of the bicycle as an object capable of creating and manipulating sounds.  The four bicycles will be modified: pedals, wheels, brakes, handlebars, gears, and other parts will become tools to create and manipulate sounds and they will be mounted on stationary stands to facilitate performance in a static environment.  


Three cyclist 'rider' musicians will perform the piece, which will unfold, a live audio-visual performance featuring video taken by bike from the rider's point of view, handlebars in frame, synchronized to the tempo of the audio by pedalling speed.  The piece will feature iconic cycling experiences in Montreal: riding through the leafy trees in Park Jeanne-Mance and Parc LaFontaine, cruising down Parc hill, past modern skyscrapers, though Old Montreal and along the Lachine Canal.  Tempo will be determined by pedalling speed, and audio will be complemented by video.  Through interactive performance, each cyclist musician will be able manipulate the drums, bass, and atmospheric textures connected to their bicycle, creating a dynamic performance that, like a bike ride, may follow the same physical route every time, but will never twice be the same. 


To be presented April 21, 2011 at the SAT