Metal Sculptures that Sound as Interesting as they Look

As well as looking good, metal can also make some really interesting noises. That’s why lots of sculptors working in metal also consider the sound of their artworks as well as the aesthetics. So, for your listening (and viewing) pleasure, here’s a list of some of the coolest metal sound sculptures we could find, complete with video footage. Don’t forget to switch your sound on for this one!

1. The Singing Ringing Tree by Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu , Tonkin Liu. Burnley, UK.

Perched high in the Pennine hills overlooking Burnley, the Singing Ringing Tree is award-winning, sound-powered sculpture. Crafted from galvanised steel pipes, the structure resembles a tree being blown by the wind. At 3-metres high, it’s like a giant musical instrument with the wind its player. Depending on the speed and direction of the wind rushing through the pipes, it makes different low and eerie sounds.

2. Bing Bang by Étienne Krähenbühl, various locations

Bing Bang is a kinetic and sound sculpture created by Swiss artist Étienne Krähenbühl. Hundreds of Corten steel rods are suspended from the ceiling, creating an orange sphere that’s reminiscent of the sun. When the rods are held together then released, they clang together, spectacularly. Which is more satisfying here, the sight or the sound? Either way, we’re obsessed with this video.

3. High Tide Organ by Liam Curtin and John Gooding, Blackpool, UK

The 15-metre tall High Tide Organ was an impressive artwork on Blackpool Promenade. Made from concrete, steel, zinc and copper sheet, it was powered by the Irish Sea. At high tide, seawater moved through 18 pipes that ran beneath the promenade, emitting sounds  from the tall Corten steel tower that loomed above it. Sadly, the sculpture was dismantled in early 2022 after concerns about its safety due to a lack of regular maintenance.

4. A Sound Garden by Douglas Hollis, Seattle, USA

Built between 1982 and 1983 and overlooking Lake Washington, A Sound Garden is a public artwork with a difference. It comprises 12 6.4 metre high towers, each with an organ pipe and a weather vane at the top. When wind travels through the organ pipe, it creates a soft, almost spooky sound. The Seattle band, Soundgarden, were named after the installation. When the band’s frontman, Chris Cornell, died in 2017, A Sound Garden was adopted as an apt memorial.

5. Aeolus by Luke Jerram, various locations

As well as being pretty stunning to look at, Luke Jerram’s Aeolus is both a wind and string instrument. Named after the ruler of the four winds in Greek mythology and inspired by aeolian harps, it is played by the wind. Thanks to a mixture of sensitive harp strings and stainless steel tubes, Aeolus produces a low hum even when it isn’t windy. It was displayed publicly in London and at the Eden Project in Cornwall, and now lives at the Airbus factory in Bristol.

6. Kunsthofpassage Singing Drainpipes by Annette Paul, Christoph Roßner and André Tempel, Dresden, Germany

The Kunsthofpassage (which translates to ‘art yard passage’) is a network of art-adorned courtyards in Dresden’s student district. Tenants who live inside buildings in the neighbourhood were invited to create interesting sculptures on their outside walls. The singing drainpipes, made of steel, guide the rain down a net work of funnels to emit musical notes. We’re still not convinced the sound produced is actual music, but this is an intriguing sculpture, nonetheless.

7. Wind Harp by Aristides Demetrios, San Francisco, USA

Towering 74 metres above sea level and overlooking the world-famous bay, this giant aeolian harp is in just the right spot for plenty of wind. When the breeze blows through the steel ‘strings’ of the almighty, 28-metre tall structure, it creates a distinctive sound. The harp was fabricated in 1967, using metal from Bethlehem Steel, who also supplied the steel for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

8. Sound Shadows, Bill Fontana, Lisbon, Portugal

Speaking of bridges, here’s the 25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon. In 2017, pioneering sound artist Bill Fontana turned the 2.3km-long suspension bridge into one enormous musical instrument. ‘Shadow Soundings’ was an exhibition at the MAAT Museum, close to the bridge. Fontana recorded the sounds of the bridge, from sloshing water to trains on tracks, and remixed them to create music and accompanying visuals in the gallery space.


9. Echea Aeolica by Michele Spanghero, Sicily, Italy

Artist Michele Spanghero created this steel and fibreglass amphora to allow visitors to listen to the sounds of the sea. Syracuse, where the sculpture is located, has rich Greek history and the amphora was a much-used vessel in Ancient Greece. Visitors to Echea Aeolica are invited to take in the notes of the wind from the Ionian Sea as it drifts through the sculpture, as well as the calming ambience of its coastal position.

10. Sonambient Sculpture Barn by Harry Bertoia, Pennsylvania, USA

Sound sculptures are not the thing Harry Bertoia is most famous for; most people familiar with the late designer and artist will know him for his seminal wire mesh chair. But later in life, Bertoia began to experiment with sound art, filling his Pennsylvania barn with a collection of incredible sound sculptures made from a wide range of metals: brass, bronze, beryllium copper, aluminium and even gold plating. The video below shows some of these fascinating creations in action – and we can’t stop watching it.