Aeolian Pipes

I should be making collages for a show in the autumn but I’ve been distracted – it’s the way of things! Instead I’ve been thinking again about the sounds of the coast – water and wind – and wondering how I could move on the work I did for Caught by the Tide. I thought you would be interested in my thoughts.

The Aeolian Series consists of cloths and pots/sculptures that consider how the sounds of the coast could be visualised. Sculptural pipes project from wall hung cloths and small cylinders sit in groups to capture a passing breath – they give the possibility of sound.

aeolian cloth 4 and 5

Of course having originally been a flautist I am very used to the idea of breath passing through a tube to make a sound and I can hear the rise and fall of pitch in my head as the tubes are lengthened and shortened – this is done mechanically on a flute by opening and closing keys.

I like the word Aeolian. It means pertaining to the wind. Aeolian sound is produced by the wind when it encounters an obstacle. Fixed objects, such as buildings or wires, can cause humming or other constant sounds that are called Aeolian tones. Moving objects such as twigs and leaves cause irregular sounds. A wind that flows over a cylinder or stretched wire produces a pitch that is determined by the wind speed and the diameter of the cylinder or the tension on the wire. These constant sounds are the ones I am interested in. So often I have heard the wind whine as its flow is split by the shrouds of boats as they rock from side to side on a windy day.

The impetus for the Aeolian series came from one such sound. I was sketching at the East End in Wells, sitting on some steps down to the water edge where boats are moored. A scaffolding pipe is used here as a handrail and as I drew a low moan started from the pipe. The wind, surprisingly, had caught the opening in just the right place to make it sing. I imagine all these works could sing.


But the sound is just in my (or your) imagination. What if I could make real sound ….?

I have made some bigger pipes. There are problems, due to going up a size, but they can be overcome (actually I need to go bigger still). I aim to place them on the beach and try to get them to sing. I want to create a connection between the visual and aural landscape so it is important that when I photograph them they bisect the horizon as do so many vertical lines in in this environment.


The constant hum of these Long Aeolian Pipes could be a fitting backdrop to this bleak but beautiful landscape.


debbie lyddon long black aeolian pipes detail 1 debbie lyddon long black aeolian pipes detail 2


7 thoughts on “Aeolian Pipes

  1. judith Wilson

    I love that you think and work with all your senses – the results are visually stunning even without the aural element but I know that will really enhance the work. You never cease to amaze me.

  2. Pingback: Sound Pots | debbie lyddon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s