The Center for New Music’s Play Hear team shared progress this summer at Tenderloin Sunday Streets. See how our neighbors enjoyed the flutes (not called stomp-flutes) and bell trees:

The flutes are long plastic pipes with a fipple near the bottom, like a whistle. The pipes sing overtones when you step on the bellows attached to the “mouthpiece,” so the slower you step the deeper the tone.

After great experiences with a single “stompflut” at Aeolian Day (Jack London Square Ferry Plaza) and Maker Faire (San Mateo), Artist Peter Whitehead made the specially tuned set of 6 flutes. We got advice from Stephen Parris, who specializes in the tuning which we chose, a just pentatonic scale, so that all the notes sound good together no matter when they are played. This choice coincides with the centennial celebration of Lou Harrison’s birth, as Lou and his partner Bill Colvig continue to stand tall as inspirational figures for the Bay Area’s instrument builder community.

At Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin, we unveiled all 6 “stompfluts” and they were very much enjoyed by people of all ages, who quickly discovered new techniques for making social music.


The Center for New Music is participating in the Market Street Prototyping Festival, a collaborative effort to make the public space of San Francisco’s Market Street more active, vibrant, and engaging. C4NM’s project, Play Hear, is an invented instrument installation that aims to create space for spontaneous musical collaborations with friends and strangers of all ages and musical abilities. Play Hear is being led by Window Gallery curators Bart Hopkin and David Samas.