Interactive Sound Field for Istrian Scale

rijeka airport sound waves
Swedish artist Håkan Lidbo, UK’s dance music legend Coldcut and UK’s sound artist Jack James were invited to make a sound installation for the international airport of Rijeka, Croatia. They started by asking these questions:

The airport is a place where you don’t expect to listen to music. For a great deal of people it’s a stressful environment, where many feel uncomfortable or nervous. Can music help travellers to feel more relaxed?

Most airports are also quite anonumous. They seldom reveal much about the region or its history. Can music tell a story about the region?

Can music be even more? Can it be interactive? Can the travellers control the music themselves?

Lidbo, Coldcut and James started by researching the musical heritage of the region and found a unique tradition played in a rare musical scale. The Istrian musical scale is protected by UNESCO World herritage and sounds like nothing else. It’s often performed on sopeles, an instrument always manufactured in couples, one male and one female, played together in a male and a female harmony.

After a session with local musicians, the music was processed as individual couple of notes, programmed into media players with built in loudspeakers and motion detecting sensors. Each player holding a library of different notes.

Using sounds and music from the region, three additional compositions were made, all in slightly different length, played from three pairs of Sonos loudspeakers.


The six Sonos speakers and eight motion detecting speakers were mounted in a corridor with glass windows on both sides and a glass ceiling. When travellers move in this corridor, towards the security check, they control the sounds with their movements. Depending how people move, the notes are shuffled so that the same melody is never played twice. The six Sonos speakers playing an ever changing sound scape where the intesity varies depending on the traveller’s positions.



This installation tells a story of the region surrounding the airport, the history, the wild life, the folklore, language and music. It enhances the feeling of being there, on the Island of Krk. It transforms travellers into musicians playing the Istrian music scale.

In an other area of the airport Brittish sound artist Scanner presents a piece with sounds of water drops, and in all of the more than hundred loud speakers in the airport a specially composed six hour long soundtrack by Croatian artist Alexander Valenčić is being played.

The project is a collaboration between County of PG Kotar, Music Tech Fest and Unicult2020 with support from Rijeka Culture Capital 2020.

rijeka airport press conference