The music has been described as haunting and zen. It can be calm and thoughtful to accompany yoga. Other times it can be dramatic enough to be the soundtrack to a horror movie.
These are the sounds that come from the sculptures/musical instruments created by Beverly artist David Barsotti. The instruments are created from recycled materials equipped with piano wires. Barsotti calls his inventions “violellos”.
Barsotti will perform seven different violellos in a free exhibition, “Strings and Things,” from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Joplin Marley Studios, 9911 S. Walden Parkway, Chicago. Barsotti’s shows are interactive – he encourages visitors to play his creations.
Barsotti’s work lies at the intersection of sculpture, invention and music. From an abandoned piano and a wooden coffee table, he constructed the first d’violello in 2016. It is made up of 24 tunable high-tension piano strings attached to a wooden base that acts as a sound chamber. acoustic resonance to amplify the sounds created by the vibration of the strings.
Barsotti said his original goal was to create an interactive sculpture that would produce musical sounds, and he had no preconceived idea of what the musical outcome would be. Since then, he has become more interested in the musical aspects of his creations.
“The project was as much about the process of discovery and invention as it was about creating a particular sound,” he said. “Since then, my interests have evolved. My knowledge of music has grown enormously and I have studied music from different cultures. Now I’m more interested in how they sound. Each instrument is unique with a different sound. Depending on how they are tuned, they can sound fabulous.
Barsotti grew up in Beverly, went to schools in Chicago, and is a Navy veteran. Art and craftsmanship are part of Barsotti’s family heritage. His grandfather was a blacksmith for the Pullman company and tools and tools. His father, Franco Barsotti, was a photographer. His younger brother Steven works in experimental sound and Barsotti has done a few projects with him.
He is also active in the local arts scene, volunteering for the first Beverly Art Walk in 2014 and on the board of the Beverly Area Arts Alliance.
“Dave is always the first to volunteer when we need help building or creating anything,” said Sal Campbell, one of the Alliance’s founders. “He is always experimenting and enjoys creating and collaborating. It’s very contagious. He’s great fun and he’s had a huge impact on Arts Alliance and our ability to do so much.
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Through the Alliance and the Art Walk, Barsotti also met his girlfriend Nicole Burns, also an artist, and they have been together for seven years. She is the one who does yoga.
“He was playing really quietly, he was doing his thing, while I was doing my thing. It fit really well. All the instruments are a little bit different, and they all bring a different melody and note to the world and that’s good,” Burns said.
The musicians also appreciated the uniqueness of the instruments and the sounds of Barsotti’s instruments.
Campbell said when The Alliance holds gigs in Barsotti’s Great Yard, “Musicians, everyone, love playing the instruments Dave created.”
Now, Barsotti is “appealing to musicians to attend the event to try out the instruments to help define their full potential.”
“Until now it was about the learning process, being able to put them together to see how they came out. It was more about people playing instruments for fun,” he said. “Now it’s time to see what they can really do musically.”
Carol Flynn is a freelance writer for the Daily Southtown.