Musical cooperation

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

This may have already crossed your transom, but even so I wanted to share it because it is so beautiful. The project, called 21 Balançoires (21 Swings), is an installation in Montreal by the Canadian design collective Daily Tous Les Jours. The swings play sounds when in use, and through cooperation, different harmonies can be produced. One special set of melodies only appears when all twenty-one swings are in use.

[vimeo width=”600″ height=”337″][/vimeo]

Swing 1

Swing 2

Swing 3

There are layers of joy in this piece. It starts with a familiar form, the playground swing. We may think this is joyful simply because of nostalgia for childhood. There is that, but it’s not the whole story. Dig deeper, and ask: How did the swing get so popular in the first place? The answer arises from the movement; the soaring, freeing, swooping arc that gives the sensation of flying and that millisecond of weightlessness before the gentle fall. Layered on top is the music, and the light, and the abundance of it all — the line of swings stretching on and on, an endless playground.

The collaborative aspect adds another dimension. The music echoes that wonderful feeling when you find yourself perfectly in sync with others, when the hidden harmonies of the world are revealed. One of the teenagers in the film puts this nicely when he says: “I find it adds to the beauty of life, because a single sound isn’t really nice, but together they make a beautiful melody.” And actually, we frequently use these kinds of musical metaphors to describe our feeling of symbiosis with others: we resonate to someone, or sing the same tune, or feel in harmony with each other.

It’s a success for public art in my book, not just to be pleasing or interesting, but to celebrate the interactions between people, promoting cooperation and harmony. Are there installations like this in your cities? If so, please share them!

Swing 4

45 img17362

via Colossal, with thanks to Sera

October 15th, 2012


Lost your spark?

The Joy Jumpstart is a 7-day, self-guided program to help you break out of a rut and reconnect with what makes you feel truly alive.

    Discussion (3 Comments)

  1. Linda on October 17, 2012

    Wonderful post! Wonderful website: Dailytouslesjours! Every day I’m going to try to bring something a little joyous/wonderful/beautiful to life. An act of random kindness for instance. Hello m’am may I help you with those parcels? Endless possibilities. Thanks again. Linda

  2. Sherry Crowson on October 17, 2012

    Oh what a wonderful creative joyous idea! I love it! I love that old people and young kids and everyone in between seemed to be enjoying it, and that some harmonies only arise when all the swings are full of people working together! Do you suppose we could import that idea here in America? Our Congress needs some lessons in cooperating and playing well with others. Perhaps getting some joy out of cooperation might lead them to participating in votes that actually help the country and not just their own agenda! Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience, certainly made me smile!


    1. Ingrid on October 18, 2012

      I love that idea, Sherry! Did you just prescribe joy to our elected leaders? I think they could use some 🙂


Leave a Comment

What's killing your joy? Take this 3-minute quiz to find out.
Free Resource

Find more joy every day

Our free workbook has 5 simple strategies that will make life better right now.

You'll also receive periodic updates on new things from The Aesthetics of Joy. We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.