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Mr. Kevin Locke
700 Milam St.
Houston, TX 77002
Terry Allen is a multi-disciplinary artist in the truest sense of the term. In addition to his work as a songwriter, composer, pianist, and lead vocalist (perfoming and recording with his own Panhandle Mystery Band from Lubbock, Texas) Terry is perhaps best known for his sculptural work. Nowhere are Terry's emphatically mixed-media talents better showcased than with his "Countree Music" Installation.
The "Countree Music" Installation is centered around a life-sized bronze tree sculpture which is mounted beneath a large circular atrium dome in the middle of the South Concourse of Terminal A, George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. The floor surrounding the tree is a massive terrazzo "orange-peel" map of the world which has been artistically altered to place Houston at its center. The electronic system associated with the installation includes dedicated audio and show control components that reproduce a computer-generated audio program featuring musical styles and instrumentations from different parts of the world. The hour-long musical program (composed by Terry along with fellow musicians Joe Ely and David Byrne) is a compilation of 15 different songs, each utilizing a unique set of musical instruments whose sounds emanate throughout the atrium. The entire program is repeated continuously during airport operating hours.
The audio playback system is a discrete eight channel sound system designed to amplify and distribute the multichannel output of MIDI-based sequencing/voicing units around the atrium. The audio system uses eight separate high-fidelity ceiling mounted speakers placed evenly around the periphery of the domed atrium in a "surround sound" configuration, and the technique used to mount each of the eight speakers renders them completely invisible.
As each musical composition plays, a different instrument can be heard coming from each of the eight speakers, i.e., during the first song a drum is heard coming from the first speaker, a guitar is heard coming from the second speaker, an accordion is heard coming from the third speaker and so on. Because the eight audio speakers are spread around the outside edge of the atrium, the volume balance (or "mix") of the multiple instruments depends on the position of the listener relative to the speakers and therefore changes as the listener moves about the atrium. The variation of the "mix" heard by the listener, combined with the changing position of the instruments from song to song (as well as the inability of the listener to visually locate the source of each sound) provides a uniquely "interactive" component to the "Countree Music" experience.
The show control system is a dedicated "card-cage" type device, utilizing individual control cards and custom programming capable of monitoring and orchestrating all of the various functions of the installation:
All audio and control system components not physically installed in the concourse atrium and surrounding area are mounted in a small equipment rack, which is located in a dedicated equipment room near the concourse atrium.