The James Boag Meteorphonium

In the last three and a half years we’ve seen some fascinating concepts come to life as brands look to push the innovation envelope, but we’ve never been as impressed with anything, as we were with the James Boag Meteorphonium.

James Boag Meteorphonium

Just a fortnight ago we gathered in Tasmania’s Ben Lomond National Park for the unveiling of the specially commissioned James Boag Meteorphonium* (Pronounced ‘meet-e-or-phone-ium’), a world-first in technology and innovation. The groundbreaking instrument, which resembles something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, transforms live environmental and meteorological readings into an amazing musical symphony.

James Boag Meteorphonium
A meteorphones capturing data.

1.7 meters in diameter, the instrument features nine bronze singing bowls and a central ‘tongue drum’, all housed in a handcrafted Tasmanian oak frame. Data inputs from a weather station, including wind speed, humidity and atmospheric pressure, plus light readings from highly sensitive meteorphones, stimulate the movement of each component as they respond musically to weather conditions in a unique way, dictated by a rule based ‘score’ with the weather as its ‘conductor’.

Designer, Nick Ryan, an award winning composer, sound designer and audio specialist, was noticeably excited to have us all there, “this is the first time anyone aside from the design team has heard it!”, he announced. As the conditions changed, even the slightest adjustment in temperature or light, and the instrument adapted, Nick would proudly shout out the reason for change in sound, “that’s a drop in temperature!” Despite not a single one of us having any real understanding of how the magic instrument was a) built, or b) operating, we were all deeply intrigued, and impressed.

James Boag Meteorphonium

I had a chat with Nick and his software partner Daniel Jones about the build process, and was fascinated to learn that every piece of the instrument was designed and built from scratch, utilising the expertise of multiple engineers at the top of their field. The concept of building something that no one has done before is mind-boggling, let alone explaining the concept to fellow engineers and having them create an integral part of the instrument.

“As a composer, I’m fascinated by the idea that technology can translate the behavioural patterns found in natural phenomena into the language of music, so when I was approached by James Boag to work on a project to transform Tasmania’s dramatic landscape into music, it was the perfect chance to invent a very special instrument that would do just this.”

Nick Ryan with James Boag Meteorphonium

Inspiring the creation of the instrument, is the story of James Boags Premium Lager, born of the purest ingredients from Tasmania’s picturesque environment. The instrument embodies the journey of the beer, by triggering prerecorded sounds of rushing snow and clinking bottles, taking the listener from the rugged wilderness to the final product.

What the future holds for the incredible instrument is still cloudy (pun intended), but as soon as its new home is unveiled I highly recommend going to immerse yourself in it, and some ice cold schooners of James Boag.

See the James Boag Meteorphonium doing its thing at www.boagssymphony.com.au

James Boag Meteorphonium Nick Ryan and Daniel Jones
Nick Curly and Daniel Jones with the James Boag Meteorphonium.