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A flotilla of radio-controlled train klaxons mounted on swan boats

Keith Lay conducts an experiment in sound with 'Distance Music at Lake Eola for Walking Audience, Train Horns and Brass Choirs'


  • photo courtesy of the composer


Noon Saturday, Oct. 25 | Lake Eola, 195 N. Rosalind Ave. | | free

Local composer and educator Keith Lay continues his ongoing experiments in psychoacoustics with his latest composition, Distance Music at Lake Eola for Walking Audience, Train Horns and Brass Choirs. After a successfully funded Kickstarter, Lay has made his dream of conducting an orchestra of swan-boat-mounted radio-controlled train klaxons a reality.

Those who witnessed Lay’s 2012 performance, inSPIRE, will be familiar with his penchant for adding time and space to the usual elements of a musical composition. In inSPIRE, Lay used radios to conduct musicians atop three downtown buildings, resulting in a brass and vocal concerto that blended in the air as it drifted down to listeners. Distance Music at Lake Eola builds upon these principles to provide a different melody for every step the walking audience takes on the surrounding path, in a thousand-foot-wide constellation of seven radio-controlled train horns precisely located on the 23-acre lake.

It’s all based on the simple phenomenon of sound localization, something children usually learn about during their first thunderstorm, Lay says: “When lightning strikes, people know that every five seconds counted until the thunder arrives measures another mile distant. Distance Music at Lake Eola is the first musical experience that uses the same principle to create rhythms around a 45-acre space – and it’s much safer.”

You can explore the minutiae of the radio programming, sound pressure levels, air temperature measurements and all the other technical details on Lay’s website – but whether or not you understand physics, it’s a certainty that this will be a fantastically brain-expanding experience.

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