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During the period from 1870 to 1871, the eminent Victorian scientist William Crookes (1832-1919) set up an experiment to test whether Daniel Dunglas Home used trickery to perform the feat of the self-playing accordion. Crookes purchased a new instrument for this purpose. He asked Home to hold it inside an open-topped bespoke cage made from wire mesh under the table (which was Home’s usual practice).

In some accounts of this experiment, an electrical current was passed through the apparatus to prevent, Crookes explained, any interference from an outside agency. In this respect, Crookes’ cage was not unlike a Faraday cage, invented by Michael Faraday (1791-1867). This was, similarly, formed by a mesh of conductive material. The electrical field caused by the charge distributed throughout cancelled the fields effect within the cage, thus protecting whatever was placed inside.

The composition comprises single notes played on a melodeon that have been adjusted for pitch and time to sound as though they are produced by a grand church organ. Periodically, the spit and crackle of electricity is heard above them. It ends with the repetition of a single note heard at its normal pitch and speed.

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from Spirit Communication [album], released December 5, 2023

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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and Emeritus Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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