Constance Demby is an early maker of large Steel Resonator instruments. She collaborated with Robert Rutman in the 1960s building various experimental steel sound sculptures at Rutman's gallery “A Fly Can't Bird But A Bird Can Fly”. In 1967 Demby and Rutman held several happening-style events that mixed sonic, visual, and performance art centered around big sheets of metal that the artists had found. In one piece called “The Thing”, Rutman wore a white cardboard box and banged on Demby's sheet-metal creation with “a rock in a sock.” In another piece entitled “Space Mass”, Rutman projected film upon a piece of curved sheetmetal onto which Demby had welded several steel rods that she played as a percussion instrument. Rutman later remarked, “We thought it would sound good as a xylophone, but it didn't.” 1) These experiments eventually led to her highly idiosyncratic instruments and performance method.

Space Bass

The Space Bass is made from large sheet of stainless steel (likey 4 x 8 feet) that is formed into an arc shape and attached to a bent metal rail that is about 3 inches wide. Onto the rail are several 1/4inch steel rods that cut to different lengths and clamped to the rail to tune them to a chromatic scale. The instrument is played by tapping or bowing the rods as well as the metal sheet directly.(details can be seen in the above video)

Similar Instruments

Long term collaborator Robert Rutman's Steel Cello
The Stahlcello made by Jan Heinke, A student of Rutman
Tom Nunn's Crustacean

Whale Sail


Interview 2)
Bio 3)
Another interview 4)

There is another artist by the name Marilyn Donadt that has a very similar instrument, is there a relationship? 5) 6)
Demby maintains that Rutman's instruments are adaptations of her own, they were known collaborators making steel sound sculptures before their own explorations with steel resonator instruments.
What is the relationship to the Crustacean by Tom Nunn, Robert Rutman's Steel Cello, Jan Heinke's Stahlcello, ect.
There seems to be several large bowed steel instrument makers who are interested in a kind of Cosmic sound.

constance_demby.txt · Last modified: 2020/08/11 07:41 by mete
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