camera cord for stability Ray Lee Chorus

More like “War of the Worlds” than art – Ray Lee Chorus – looking good at night

Ray Lee presents ‘Chorus’ a s part of the b-side festival progress during 2016. ‘Chorus’ is an art installation
made up of large mobile sculptures with rotating loudspeakers to “emit circles of light and hypnotic sounds”. This large sound and light installation is co-presented by both b-side (#bside festival) and Activate (#Insideout Dorset Festival).

Ray Lee Chorus art installation

Setting up Ray Lee Chorus art installation just a few yards from Aaran Guesthouse

The characteristic “swirling” sound of a rotating speaker comes from original work, some 80 years ago by inventor Donald Leslie. Leslie began working in the late 1930s to get a speaker for a Hammond organ that had a closer emulation of a pipe or theatre organ, and discovered that rotating sound gave the best effect. Leslie made the first rotary speaker in 1941.
Ray Lee Chorus rotating at night

Slowly rotating and humming with blended harmonic tones – Ray Lee Chorus at work

Ray Lee Chorus a 4 way speaker

Ray Lee Chorus – 4-way speaker caught in motion

As the decades passed, various attempts have been made to emulate the effect using electronics. Many musicians have used the Univox Uni-Vibe, the Neo Ventilator and, as an example of a more recent musical effect package, the Hotone ROTO vintage rotary speaker effect pedal. Here in Weymouth, listening to the “Chorus”, one is struck by the whirling, droning effect (and the thought it may trigger tinnitus in susceptible listeners!) If you’ve not heard it, try to imagine a blend of ‘wonky’ hearing aid, mole-scarer and ‘rap’ music for whales. Quite unique and exciting as art installations go.

P.S. Note the special “non-glare” streetlights in the first photo – these were purchased by Council a few years back and it only took a year or so before shrouds had to be fitted to several of these because of complaints!

About Jim Groves

Retired published Scientist, etc. Vocal and passionate supporter of waste reduction, correct disposal and reduction of plastic pollution.