upcoming events


FORUM: texts / discussion



Michael J. Schumacher

Studio Five Beekman



Saturday, November 1

6 PM - Midnight


Manual Eardrums

Judy Dunaway

Manual Eardrums is about feeling sound with your hands instead of (or in addition to) hearing it with your ears. In this piece, the balloon functions as a transmitter for sound to your hands. The balloon allows you to "hear" things with your hands that you might not normally notice with your ears.
Visitors to
Manual Eardrums will be given an inflated balloon, foam earplugs and a page with instructions before entering the space. Once entering they may explore the constant sound waves in the room, which shift almost imperceptibly, creating an ever-changing vibrational landscape.
According to Newtons second law of motion, F = MA, to move an object requires a force; the heavier the object is, the larger the force required. In order for air to push an object, that object must be light. Thus the balloon, which is lightweight, can be pushed easily by sound vibrations. This is the same concept employed by the human eardrum. Thus carrying a balloon could be compared to carrying a large eardrum.


Judy Dunaway

Since 1990, Judy Dunaway has composed over forty compositions for balloons as instruments, and has also made this her main instrument for improvisation. She has presented her compositions and improvisations throughout North America and Europe at many well-known venues and festivals including Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the SoHo Arts Festival, the Alternative Museum, the Knitting Factory, P.S. 122, Roulette, Experimental Intermedia, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Bang On A Can Festival, the Guelph Jazz Festival, Podewil, ZKM and Sˇance Ecoute.
She has performed as a balloon player in compositions by John Zorn and Roscoe Mitchell, and in improvisations and/or collaborations with the Flux Quartet, Joe Gallant's Illuminati big band, DJ Singe, visual artists Ken Butler and Nancy Davidson, and numerous others.
Her compositions for balloons include electronic and multi-media works, sound installations, and works that incorporate more traditional instrumentation such as string quartet, chorus and Japanese koto.

CRI/Composers Recordings Inc. released a full CD of her works for balloons entitled "Balloon Music" in 1998. A CD of her noise-rock trio "Shar" (in which the balloon replaces the electric guitar) was recently released on Outer Realm records. Her discography also includes appearances on John Zorn's "Cobra" from Knitting Factory Works.

Awards include a commission from the American Composers Forum's Composers Commissioning Fund, an artist/researcher-in-residency at Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie, a recording residency at Harvestworks/Studio Pass, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer and the Kalliste Foundation.

Ms. Dunaway has a B.S. in Music Education from Hunter College (New York City) and a M.A. in Music Composition from Wesleyan University (Connecticut) where she studied with composer Alvin Lucier. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in composition at State University of New York at Stony Brook.