The Big Blade

Project by Tim Yates

So what do you do if you walk out of your front door and find someone pushing a 1.2m diameter industrial circular saw blade down the road in a shopping trolley? The correct answer is that you buy it off them for a tenner and turn it into an earth-shatteringly beautiful and powerful gong.

The Blade was first shown at the Turbine Festival at the Tate Modern in July 2015; a fantastic day, with 28,136 people coming through the doors. There were long queues for the blade from start to finish, and people loved making the Turbine Hall ring with its epic sound! It was very interesting to see how people reacted to it, some trying to put it into orbit (they failed!), while others worried that it might shatter at their slightest touch (it didn’t!).  Below are some photos from an extremely fun day: exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure!

The Big Blade – Tim Yates
The Big Blade – Tim Yates

Most recently the blade has been recorded by Sarah Angliss to be used as a central part of her sound design and music for The Hairy Ape at The Old Vic theatre in London. If you get a chance to go – and you should (the reviews have been excellent) – don’t forget to listen out for it in pivotal plot moments and throughout. Below are some of the recordings Sarah and I made at a highly enjoyable recording session at Limehouse Town Hall. It’s fascinating to hear how the sounds develop over time, even if the traffic noise becomes a bit problematic once the volume tails off:

I owe special thanks to Tim Neobard and the 4th Rochford scout troop who invited me along to their meeting to show me how to build the frame including a quick lesson in rope lashings. The video below shows the scouts giving it its first proper test. It was so loud we got complaints – much fun!

The Blade will be on show again at the earliest opportunity. If you’re interested in having it at your gallery, event, gig or recording session, then don’t hesitate to get in touch: tim [at] timbyates [dot] com.