MinneCulture | The Sonic Legacy of Leif Brush and His Terrain Instruments

MinneCulture | The Sonic Legacy of Leif Brush and His Terrain Instruments

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Leif Brush was a pioneering sound artist based in Duluth, Minnesota since the 1970s. His Terrain Instruments were just some of the audible sculptures that isolated and emphasised the sounds of otherwise natural phenomena.

In the forest outside Leif’s home in Duluth, he built a unique method of recording natural phenomena. The installation was called Terrain Instruments. Long ribbons of gleaming wire slashed overhead. Flat metal discs were suspended from thick cable. Both were connected with transducers running to a preamplifier, and then to an audio mixer.

“The inherent dynamics of the tree leaves to sound or the trunk and limbs to vibrate sound at frequencies commensurate with their mass and structure,” Brush disclosed in a self-made video production from 1984. “Each of these natural sources contribute very much as a natural Terrain Instrument.”

KFAI’s Ben Heath celebrates the work of a remarkable Minnesotan. Listen to our story here:

Special thanks to Leif’s wife and creative partner, Gloria Defillipps Brush, and sound artists Guy de Bievre and Sofia von Bustorff, who digitized much of audio you heard in this story.

Support for MinneCulture on KFAI comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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