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Scale Lane Bridge is transformed into a musical instrument for Hull City of Culture 2017

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 April 2017

The bridge links Hull’s Old Town to The Deep, the city's  celebrated aquarium Photo Timothy Soar

The bridge links Hull’s Old Town to The Deep, the city's celebrated aquarium Photo Timothy Soar


Composer Nye Parry and friends make beautiful music (of a kind) by banging on a city landmark.

The people of Hull helped to turn a city landmark into a giant musical instrument for Hull UK City of Culture 2017. They arrived at Scale Lane Bridge to take part in a series of workshops, performances and installations in the Indonesian gamelan tradition of making music by striking tuned metalwork, including the bridge itself.

Composer Nye Parry led the project called Playing the Bridge that culminated in a performance in and on the bridge. He combined recordings from the workshops with the reminiscences of people who constructed the bridge which links Hull’s Old Town to The Deep, a celebrated aquarium. It is one of only a few bridges which pedestrians can stand on as it moves to let boats pass by.

The musical event included working alongside the architect of the bridge, Jonathan McDowell together with Hull Music Service, Hull Community Gamelan, York University Music Department and Hull University School of Arts and Media.

Parry said: ‘This project gave local people a unique chance to engage directly with the architecture of their city through music, and contribute to a multi-media experience that will re-define a local landmark.’

Scale Lane Bridge is the world’s first bridge that allows the public to ride on it while it moves Photo Timothy Soar Scale Lane Bridge is the world’s first bridge that allows the public to ride on it while it moves Photo Timothy Soar

Artist Madi Boyd, who created an audio-visual installation inside the bridge (running throughout April) that reveals the inner workings of the swing bridge using projections and a sound track composed by Parry, added: ‘The artwork enables us to reveal and celebrate the hidden technology within the Scale Lane Bridge. This spectacular audio-visual installation provides visitors with x-ray like vision and will challenge their perception of space and movement.’

Jonathan McDowell said the event was an intriguing opportunity to view the bridge through an entirely different lens and help people redefine their experience of its physical presence in the city. He added: ‘This installation encourages the exploration of Scale Lane’s form, materials and history while also providing a fine excuse to bang on 350 tonnes of steel structure to make beautiful sounds, offering an alternative take on Larkin’s description of Hull’s “different resonance”.’

Martin Green, CEO and director of Hull 2017, said that Playing the Bridge encouraged people to think differently about a city landmark. ‘It is also a fantastic opportunity to learn a new instrument and be part of an amazing City of Culture project.’

Scale Lane Bridge has been heralded as a unique blend of infrastructure and public space and has won numerous national and international awards since it opened in 2013. It was designed to be a focus for regeneration, a new connection between the city centre and the underdeveloped east bank of the River Hull, and a new civic place for people to enjoy the riverside.

It is the world’s first bridge that allows the public to ride on it while it moves and it has already become a cultural destination in the city in its own right.

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