Playing The Beetles

For many societies, ancient and modern, pentagrams have symbolized the human body in relation to the universe, and scarabs (beetles), transformation and rebirth. Playing The Beetles operates through a ritualistic collaboration between beetles and human improvisers paired by color coding. Each human improviser has composed a personal score related to sections of a Plexiglas pentagram. The behavior of live beetles determines the musical choices made by each improviser as the beetles navigate the pentagram—for example, a beetle on its back might cause a horn player to swell a note, or a violinist to bow glissandos.

Performed at The Calder Foundation’s Oh, you mean cellophane and all that crap, McKittrick Hotel, 5 May 2012

Dave Nuss (No-Neck Blues Band, Sabbath Assembly) – cello
Gabrielle Herbst (GABI) – voice
Aaron Moore (Volcano the Bear) – percussion, water bottle
Daniel Fishkin (Dandelion Fiction) – daxophone
Odetta Hartman – violin
Gryphon Rue – saw, percussion

Beethoven for Relaxation

Gryphon Rue


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Beethoven for Relaxation, soundtrack by Gryphon Rue, sculpture by Tom Smith. ROX Gallery, September 17-October 31 2013. Photos by Jenae Di Napoli.

Fragments of popular and original music were manipulated and collaged together to invoke atmospheres and associations cached in cultural memory, with the aim of shifting familiar sounds into new realms of perception. Transmissions from the past, detritus of the collective unconscious, party music from territories heard through a wall. “Beethoven for Relaxation” is a collaboration with visual artist Tom Smith.

Six Degrees of Degradation

Listen with headphones for optimum effect.

Recording pass #1

Recording pass #14

Recording pass #15


Improvisations on the singing handsaw were broadcast in the Chapel of Holy Innocents at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Reverberations in the chapel interior were captured in successive recordings. This procedure was repeated 25 times, documenting the accumulating reverberations and frequency diffusion. Loudspeakers stationed throughout the chapel during the installation represented time-marks of the recording process: as people walked from the vestibule to the pews, the number of repetitions of the overdubbed saw increased, escalating into tonal feedback in the sixth station of the chapel basement. As night came on, the sounds transmitted a coaxing aura to passers-by.

Odetta and Gryphon

Odetta Gryphon 2

Odetta Gryphon 1