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The Sea-Tique:
Computerized Water Instrument

Design and Construction:
John Toenjes

John Toenjes

words © 2007
Kurt Hartwig

Forgiving when I threw you in
Water said wave ripple peace
And wouldn’t say more
Moon drew you out, up past the edge
Moon said no, sand said yes

Wet and dry, sand and salt
Like a beach, feels like
Fire pit steam kettle wide stone
Like I lost you here yesterday
Be nice to find your tracks

Follow the leader
You go first when
You said it’s too
Deep cold blue clear black

So I threw you in
And followed

Bird ate fish ate bug
Frog ate spider ate bug
Bummer to be a bugger on the water
Smaller smaller smaller on the water
You sang
There’s gospel in the water

Saw the tracks where you’d walked
Where you’d wiggled wriggled squirmed slipped slid
Found your way back into sky
Into water into steam into sacrifice
Into the edge
Where a pantone palette painted the world


The"Sea-Tique" is an instrument made from an aquarium and amplified PVC tubes, run through a custom Max/MSP patch, made for the dance installation "e's of water." The name "Sea-Tique" came about because someone asked what I call the instrument. "A couple of tubes in an aquarium," I answered--and thought about an acronym "CTIQ" - which led to..."C-Tiq" - which then led to... "Sea-Tique" (because of its water) and thus the name was hatched. This song was written specifically for the production, which was held in the U of Milwaukee Kenilworth Building in June of 2007.

The Sea-tique is played by banging two different length PVC pipes on the bottom of a water-filled aquarium. Each tube produces a different pitch (a perfect 5th apart). A waterproof microphone amplifies the underwater tones, and sends them directly to a mixer and to a computer. The computer responds to the way the tubes are banged on the aquarium floor—when it receives the correct signal, it changes the amplification, causing feedback when the tubes are lifted just off the aquarium floor. This allows me to play long tones on the tubes. After a set time, the amplification is automatically lowered, and feedback is eliminated.

Also attached to one of the pipes is a tube for blowing bubbles inside the pipe to change the tone and give a bubbling sound. Singing through the pipes also produces an underwaterr-otherworldly effect.

Making instruments of water added to the conception and feel of the e's of water installation. Custom instruments create their own sound, greatly influencing the structure and sound of the resultant music compositions.




Installation inquiries:

The Water Fountain is available for installation. Possible applications could include a lobby where data that impacts a certain field or discipline could be made audible to passers-by or building occupants. We can also do workshops and lecture demonstra-tions with your community or students. Contact me to discuss installations or other activities related to this instrument.

Blog (not very active):
JT's Musings & Doings

John Toenjes

907 1/2 W Nevada St.
Urbana, IL 61801



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Copyright 2009 -- John Toenjes