Listen to His Heart

We encountered Andre Borges while working on a commission for Science in the City Festival 2012 in Malta. Initially those were the hospital ward-inspired sounds in Andre’s works that encouraged us to offer him a collaboration. Our installation “-hEx: inverted geometry” required that style of soundscape. So we contacted Brighton-based Brazilian musician and performer, which resulted into a productive artistic synergy.

On his web-site (named for one of the microtonal instruments, as he discusses in the description to one of his projects with the same name), Andre speaks of himself as a saxophonist, flutist, performer and sound artist.

ronda-microtonal instrument

Microtonal instruments were initially created by Anton Walter Smetak, who was greatly influenced by mystical esoteric and believed that microtonal sounds were more powerful than tonal. Andre and his Brazilian band decided to follow up the ideas of the music experimenter Smetak:

“From his great collection of instruments, the ones he named ‘cretinos’ were my favorites. The name suggests their lack of nobility in sounds. A single instrument, in special, had transformed my musical life – The Piston Cretino, which consisted of a water pipe, a funnel and a trumpet mouthpiece.”

But my main interest was definitely caught by Andre’s sound performance works. Solo “Inside-Out” (2011) consisted of amplified internal sounds of the body (heartbeat and guts) alongside with light bulbs and other instruments installation, controlled by the intensity of the organs’ sounds.


“Trying to find a way to amplify body sounds, I have developed a hybrid between a stethoscope and a microphone. For INSIDE-OUT, I use twostethoscopic microphones – one attached to my hearth, and another to my guts.  Breathing and singing sounds are captured using a microphone attached to an oxygen mask. These sounds are then, transported to a sound desk and from there, to a PA system. Simultaneously, the dynamics of  my heartbeat control the brightness of two light bulbs, while the signal sent by the breathing sounds starts the DC motors set to induce sounds from instruments.”


The idea of re-focusing audience’s attention from “personal” sounds to the ones produced by the lifeless instruments is the main one behind the soundscape performance installation. At the same time Andre says that his work roots back to the experiments done by Murray Shafer, John Cage, Evelyn Glennie, Alvin Lucier and Stephen Barrass.



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