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Call to Sound, 2015

Kiliç Ali Pasa Hamam, Istanbul

To coincide with the Istanbul Biennal Oliver Beer presents Call to Sound, a site-specific Composition for Mimar Sinan’s Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam in Tophane, Karaköy. Call to Sound is part of Oliver Beer’s series entitled The Resonance Project that works with acoustic resonance, and the relationship between sound, music and architecture. Every architectural space resounds at its own precise musical notes – its ‘resonant frequencies’ – which are determined by the dimensions and the geometry of the space. In Call To Sound the viewer is invited to move through the hamam during the composition as singers stimulate the resonant frequencies of the architecture, just as a wine glass can resonate at the tip of a finger.


Indeed, in exactly the same way that an organ pipe resounds at its own particular notes, Beer will be using human voices to stimulate the innate harmonies of the building to resonate. The harmonic response is determined by unchanging acoustic physical and mathematical laws, and the new composition will weave these notes into a form of architectural polyphony which is unique to this specific architecture.


The artist describes how he has ‘tuned’ the Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamam, discovering that tonally the building has a strong Eb as its most important resonant frequency, whilst incorporating the diatonic harmonies of Ab major.


Beer says: “The Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamam was completed in 1580. The notes at which the Ottoman building resonates, and which it amplifies in response to the human voice, have remained unchanged since the day the architect Mimar Sinan conceived its form. The building’s geometry is so perfectly regular, and its surfaces so dense and smooth, it could almost have been designed as a massive and subtle musical instrument.


The harmonic response of the building will remain the same – throughout the centuries – no matter what language and what melodies are sung within its walls. The tonality of architecture, something which is largely unrecognized in modern construction, is an instinctive part of our response to our surroundings: in the prehistoric caves of France for example, recent studies have suggested that concentrations of cave paintings and specific red marks indicate points of particularly strong harmonic resonance.”

Call to Sound takes place on Wednesday, 2 September 2015. Every 8 minutes 8 guests are invited to experience the performance.



Oliver Beer


Musical Director:

Eray Altınbuken (ITU/MIAM)



Seren Akyoldaş, Ufuk Atar, Başak Ceber, Nur Diker, Murat Güney, Recep Gül, Baruyr Kuyumcıyan, Deniz Özçelik, Alin Aylin Yağcıoğlu, Canan Tuğberk

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