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The sea organ of Zadar - The voice of the waves
Among the strangest and most fascinating instruments in the world, there are some in which the score and the performance are the work of an exceptional craftsman, nature.

If in the extraordinary 'Organ of the stalactites'located in the Luray Caverns in Virginia (see our article - link) the voice of the earth resounds, the sea organ of Zadar (Croatia) makes us listen to the music of the waves.

Created by the Croatian architect Nikola Bašić in 2005, the sea organ is an architectural-sound work located along the coastal stretch of Zadar. At first glance, Bašić's work appears as a simple stairway sloping down to the sea, formed by staggered marble steps. However, the structure actually hides 35 organ pipes of different shapes, lengths and inclinations, made of polyethylene to resist weather and erosion.

When the waves driven by the wind break against the marble barrier, air and water penetrate the pipes, generating an ever-changing sound, depending not only on the structure of the pipes, but also on the weather conditions. If the sea is calm, the notes will be relaxing and calm, while when it is rough and windy, the melodic sound becomes thunderous and powerful.

Holes drilled along the risers of the steps allow sounds to escape, allowing visitors and passers-by to listen to the music of the sea and enjoy the unparalleled synaesthetic spectacle offered by nature in the fusion of music, sea and landscape.

The Morske orgulje - this is the name in Croatian - was created in view of an important recovery project of the coastal area of Zadar, heavily damaged during the Second World War, and never redeveloped.

As was intended, the sea organ proved to be an important element of urban regeneration: thanks to the construction of the work, the waterfront of Zadar from an anonymous and non-usable area, bounded by a concrete wall, has returned to being a point of aggregation for the inhabitants and a formidable tourist attraction, visited by millions of people from all over the world.

In 2006, Bašić's work won the European Award for Urban Public Space awarded every two years by the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture (CCCB) together with six other leading European institutions dedicated to architecture.

However, the Zadar sea organ is not the only instrument of this type: it has a precedent in Wave Organ of San Francisco Bay, designed by Peter Richards and built in collaboration with sculptor and expert stonecutter George Gonzalez in 1986. Defined as'wave-activated acoustic sculpture', the work was built thanks to the commitment of Frank Oppenheimer, a famous American physicist, as part of the activities promoted by' Exploratorium in San Francisco, the experiential and interactive museum dedicated to science, which he founded in 1969.

Following the presentation of a prototype in 1981 by Richards, an artist in residence at the Exploratorium, Oppenheimer set about acquiring permits and finding the necessary funds, but the actual construction was only started in 1985, several months later. the death of the physicist, to whom the work - completed in May 1986 - was dedicated.

The Wave Organ is located on the pier of the Boat Harbor  of San Francisco. The pier itself was built with material taken from a demolished cemetery, forming a bizarre and fascinating ensemble of carved granite and marble. The installation includes 25 PVC and concrete organ pipes located at various heights, to allow them to function at both high and low tide.

The sound is created by the impact of the waves against the ends of the pipes and by the subsequent movement of the water that penetrates and escapes from the pipes. The Wave Organ emits subtle sounds, which visitors require careful and sensitive listening, and empathy in the perception of the sound of the natural environment.

To make the most of the Wave Organ's potential, it is advisable to visit it at high tide times.

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