Award-winning new instrument the Organ of Corti prepares for national tour

Totnes-based artists David Prior and Frances Crow are at Dartington Hall for final testing of their award-winning experimental instrument, Organ of Corti.

The duo, who work under the name liminal, won the prestigious national New Music Award from PRS for Music Foundation for the design of the pioneering new instrument. The accompanying prize money of £50,000 has since allowed them to turn their idea from initial prototype to fully-fledged reality.

The ‘organ’ is a four-metre high, transparent sonic crystal that takes sounds from the surrounding area and recycles them, without adding any noise of its own. Day-to-day sounds such as road traffic or a flowing river are filtered by the crystal and transformed into new musical structures.

The instrument allows users to become both composer and audience as they step into and move around inside the large-scale instrument, thereby exploring the sonic landscape and making their own unique music.

Ahead of taking Organ of Corti on a national tour this summer, David and Frances have set up a final test of the instrument on the Dartington Hall estate.

Co-creator Frances Crow told ArtsCulture: “Through use of Space at The Dartington Hall Trust, we are able to make sure the Organ of Corti all fits together before it is dismantled again and travels the country. We would like to thank all our friends in Totnes who have helped us with the project, as without them this project would not have been possible.”

Following the final test, Organ of Corti will be open to the public at four sites nationwide. Its unique structure will be altered in response to the different sounds found at each of the four locations:

July 1-7: City of London Festival; Carter Lane Gardens, St Paul’s Cathedral
July 9-11: Lake District Summer Music Festival; Lay-by on A685 overlooking M6, Tebay Gorge
Aug 15-17: Cotswold Water Park; Lake 6, near A419
Aug 19-21: Worcester Music Festival; Diglis Weir, River Severn.

There will be an opportunity to see the organ at Dartington, ahead of the national tour, for one hour on Monday, June 20 from 5pm to 6pm. Anyone who is interested should call Frances Crow on 07811 999140 for details.

For more information about Organ of Corti and related events visit

(image: liminal, an arts practice led by composer David Prior and architect Frances Crow, win the PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music Award 2010 at a ceremony at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010 designed by Jean Nouvel. Their idea – The Organ of Corti – would see sounds from the environment collected and recycled to create a new music, courtesy of Will Strange)