A Symphony of Ship Horns

I was being strange and went down to the water’s edge for New Years and watched the fog roll in and swallow the ski-slope constellations and then the stars as the world frosted over. When the hour struck, and the old year died, all the ships in the inlet sounded their horns like some great organ striking the same note over and over on many pipes.

I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could coordinate all those horns? If you could change the pitch of each then you would have the world’s largest pipe organ, scattered across a bay. The mountains would ring with the sound.

The project would require a lot of coordination, but I believe it would be possible. You’d have to get a large number of ship companies to agree to help with the plan, have some method for changing the frequency of your standard ship’s horn, and a well-designed signal system to connect your organ keyboard to all the ships. Signal delay might be an issue, but as long as you played slowly there shouldn’t be a problem.

The other option, of course, would be to give each ship’s horn a set musical score before hand, although it would reduce your ability to improvise. Either way, it would be both an interesting artistic and technological project.

I like pipe organs. Pipe organs are cool. They make it feel like the world is trembling. Once I went to Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day and listened to the organ there make the air vibrate and this lyric has been stuck in my head ever since:

‘Omega and Alpha He!
Let the organ thunder,
While the choir with peals of glee
Doth rend the air asunder.’

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