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'Unsilent Night' moves to downtown L.A. -- BYOB (boombox)

December 9, 2009 |  9:13 am

“Unsilent Night,” an ambient piece by composer Phil Kline for crowd, cassette tape and boombox debuts Thursday in Downtown L.A.. after three years in the Fairfax District.

The event is a mobile communal sound sculpture that’s been performed in scores of places, including the Yukon Territory; New Haven, Conn.; Berlin; and Banff in Canada's British Columbia. It started 17 years ago in New York.

Here’s how it works: people bring their boomboxes to a designated meeting place, they’re given copies of Kline’s “Unsilent Night” piece recorded on cassette, and everyone gambols down the street for 45 minutes, rain or shine, ghetto blasters doing their job in the gentlest way imaginable. Because of the inherent quirks of different tape players, the Doppler effect, and various collisions with other ambient noises native to the greater metropolitan area, Kline’s work moves and changes and comes alive as an entirely unique sonic organ.

Watch the video of last year's "Unsilent" in New York and read David Cotner's story here.