Listen to Jon Rose’s Aeolian Experiments from Central Australia


Australia based violinist, composer, improviser and instrument builder Jon Rose is something of a national treasure. He has appeared on around 90 albums and has played with everyone from John Zorn to the Kronos Quartet and is extremely active in improvisational realms in Australia. He’s probably best known for his Great Fences of Australia project which saw him venture into the outback and play the ‘Rabbit Proof Fence amongst numerous others. Rose has displayed an ongoing commitment to the creation of uniquely Australian art and has gone to great lengths to record and perform in remote outback locations. You can check out review of his 2021 album State of Play here, his 2022 duo with Luiz Gubeissi – Honey Ants: New Music from Alice Springs here, and our interview with him in 2018 here.

The Monolith

The Tube

Currently based in Alice Springs, he’s recently been working on string instruments powered by the wind – aeolian instruments that he’s set up in his gusty backyard. The results appear on his forthcoming album Aeolian Tendency, from which this piece “First Tendency. The Monolith recorded 10​.​11​.​2022” appears. The Monolith is a a 4 sided aeolian harp, a long hollow box with 24 strings that can be rotated bringing into play adjacent strings to those already sounding. Whilst he’s been building these kinds of instruments since 1979 this is what he has to say about some of these recent creations:

“I designed the two recent aeolian instruments heard on this album, the Monolith 2021 and the Tube 2022, with a focus on engaging with the variable windy conditions experienced in central Australia. The bodies of these instruments are flanked on all sides by multiple strings. The 1.25-meter Monolith is made of plywood, with 36 strings of both piano wire and fishing line. The Tube is literally a 2-meter PVC pipe and is fitted with fishing line only. Discrete adjustments can be manually made if the wind shifts or if the operator wishes to engage other adjacent strings, often resulting in microtonal beats. The Monolith is set up with contact microphones cut into each bridge, and the Tube was recorded with air microphones inserted internally. Tuning rational has as much to do with tautness, thickness, and material quality of string as actual pitch when in a state of ‘excitation’ – this violinist’s intuition.

These aeolian experiments are ongoing and may go some way to designing an instrument that simultaneously handles both the von Kárán vortex effect and unpredictable wind patterns. The results so far have generated numerous sonic surprises.”

Aeolian Tendency will be released July 25 via Room40. You can find it here.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.