After visiting the Berlin Musical Instrument Museum two years ago, Phillipsz became fascinated with the history and sound of broken jazz instruments that had been discovered in 1945 in the Alte Münz bunker. From that, the artist was set on a mission to find similar pieces.
The result was a collection of fourteen recordings featuring several instruments. The recorded notes are based on the historical military call ‘The Last Post’ but remain separated in a bid to create a truly eerie piece. A melancholy exhibition, ‘War Damaged Musical Instruments’ brings to light the surreal reality that “conflict and loss are present in the world today”.
One of the instruments included is the ‘Balaklava Bugle’, originally played by Billy Brittain in the Charge of the Light Brigade. When a Cossack attempted to take the bugle off the soldier and failed, he stabbed the instrument with his sword. When Brittain was carried off the battlefield, his damaged bugle was safely in his hands.
Phillipsz work is now a part of the 14-18 NOW programme which honours the First World War Centenary. Played through fourteen large horns – shaped speakers, the display is said to be a truly remarkable experience.
The video below shows Phillipsz’s recording process when creating the piece. When discussing why she chose to produce it, she said “For me it was about resurrecting these instruments. The emphasis in the recordings became more about the physicality of producing the sound and the fragility of the instruments”.
For more information about the exhibit, click here.