Sea Organ, Croatia

The musical Sea Organ (morske orgulje) is located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, and is the world’s first oceanic-musical pipe organ. Simple carved white stone steps were built on the quayside. Underneath, there are 35 musically tuned tubes with whistle openings on the sidewalk. The movement of the sea pushes air through, and – depending on the size and velocity of the wave – musical chords are played. The waves create random but harmonic sounds – click here to listen what this sounds like.

Thanks to the Sea Organ music project, the inhabitants of Zadar have been restored once more to their relation with the sea. Chaotic reconstruction work undertaken in an attempt to repair the devastation Zadar suffered in the World War II turned much of the sea front into an unbroken, monotonous concrete wall. Now, the inviting white marble steps lead down to the water. Concealed under these steps, which both protect and invite, is a system of polyethylene tubes and a resonating cavity that turns the site into a huge musical instrument, played by the wind and the sea.

Each musical organ pipe is blown by a column of air, pushed in turn by a column of wave-moved water, through a plastic tube immersed into the water. The pipes’ musically tuned sounds emanate to the surroundings through apertures in the vertical planes of the uppermost stairs. The 7 successive groups of musical tubes are alternately tuned to two musically cognate chords of the diatonic major scale. The outcome of played tones and/or chords is a function of random time and space distribution of the wave energy to particular organ pipes.

In this part of Croatia the prevailing musical tradition is the spontaneous four-voice male singing, with melodies and chords conforming to the diatonic major scale. The 5 musically tuned pipes of each section are arranged in 1.5 meter spacings. A listener, standing or sitting on a chosen point on the scalinade, should be able to hear 5 to 7 musically tuned pipes play their natural music.

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