The Invisible Concerts of Everyday Life

How aware are we of sound as we move through the course of our day? Which sounds do we register and which do we ignore? Do we even give the subject much thought?

“Quintetto” by the Italian artist collective Quiet Ensemble is an intriguing blend of music, sound and installation art.

The piece is composed of five vertical aquariums, each containing a goldfish (hence the name “Quintet”). The movements of each fish are captured on video camera. Computer software then converts these movements into digital sounds. The live composition is always changing based on the movements of the fish. Like many of John Cage’s compositions, “Quintetto” relies heavily on the element of chance, chance contained within a specific, controlled environment. The piece is never the same twice because the movements of the five fish will always vary.

The Quiet Ensemble





Goldfish Orchestra



According to Quiet Ensemble, the idea behind “Quintetto” is to capture and reveal the “invisible concerts of everyday life.”
 In other words, to transform the commonplace sound of fish moving inside an aquarium into an unexpected live event. Technology is a tool to amplify natural movements and noises we might otherwise take for granted.

These videos of “Quintetto” are mesmerizing to watch. The first video is a short version of the piece, and it is quite different from the long version, which is much darker in tone. It’s worth watching both to get a sense of how variable performances of “Quintetto” can be. The music is by Fabio Sestili with electronics by the Pixel Orchestra. The piece was produced by Quiet Ensemble and Aesop Studio. (If you’re reading this article via email, click here to watch the footage).

Quintetto promo from Quiet ensemble on Vimeo.


Quintetto from Quiet ensemble on Vimeo.

Thanks to Christopher Jobson over at Colossal for turning me onto Quiet Ensemble’s work. To explore other projects by the Italian artist collective, you can visit the Quiet Ensemble website.

Would you like to read more articles like this one? Subscribe to Gwarlingo by email or RSS feed. (It’s easy, safe, and free, and it assures you won’t miss a thing). You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook or share a “like” on the Gwarlingo Facebook page.

If you enjoyed this post, please spread the word about Gwarlingo by sharing this article on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.

Looking for an interesting book for yourself or your students? Check out the new Gwarlingo Store–a hand-picked selection of some of my favorite books on art, music, ideas, the creative process, and more. All of your purchases directly support Gwarlingo.

(Note: All images and video courtesy of Quiet Ensemble)

By | 2016-11-11T21:55:33+00:00 09.08.11|Sounds|Comments Off on The Invisible Concerts of Everyday Life

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.