Hydrocordion at the Science Gallery

Hydrocordion is a playful musical device that invites us to become ‘squeezicians’ and compose soundscapes through the manipulation of air and water

By Di Mainstone, Louis Mcallum, Nanda Karpong & Richard Shed and Funded by Queen Mary University of London and Dublin Science Gallery

Hydrocordion was installed in Dublin Science Gallery in September 2011 for 3 months as pert of the Surface Tension Exhibition, where it was seen by over 75,000 visitors. The piece has since been installed in New York at Eyebeam Centre for Art and Technology as part of the World Science Fair. The piece received an incredible amount of media attention (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, The Gothamist, BBC News, Reuters).

Like a church organ, this instrument releases sound by the propulsion of air into pipes via air-slippers, which are installed around its circumference. To release a tune, squeezicians must commence a vigorous slipper-jig, thus providing a continual supply of air to each of the cylindrical aqua-flutes at the Hydrocordion’s centre. Our liquiphiles’ job does not stop there — simultaneously, they must attach a water bustle to their body and squeeze the liquid from the rubberised sack into the central aqua-flutes to change the frequency of the sounds. From afar, the audience will see these transparent water columns filling and draining as the wearable water-bustles are compressed and released. The sounds that they will hear will be a mixture of digitised harmonies, combined with samples of sploshings and water- drips, which will be harvested in real time, thus creating a bespoke musical experience for squeezicians and audience alike.


  • Sept 2011 Surface Tension, Dublin Science Gallery
  • April 2012 Eyebeam, New York City
  • March 2013 THEMUSEUM, Canada


New York Times Green Blog http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/hiddenwater-where-does-it-all-go/ Time http://entertainment.time.com/2012/06/01/buzzwords-what-the-heck-is-artscience International Business Times http://tv.ibtimes.com/hydrocordian-uses-air-and-water-to-make-sweet-music/5864.html Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303830204577446520794986562.html Huffington Post Arts http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/science-gallery-surface-tension-eyebeam_n_1557873.html?ref=arts Papermag http://www.papermag.com/2012/05/world_science_festival.php Gothamist http://gothamist.com/2012/05/30/surface_tension.php#photo-1 BBC News US & Canada http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18285825 Reuters http://uk.reuters.com/video/2012/05/31/air-and-water-is-music-to-the-ears?videoId=235759658