The Silophone Project

Listen to the story of the Silophone on All Things Considered.

Check out the Silophone Project Web site.

Play the Silophone.

silo #5 Silo #5 grain elevator
photo courtesy: Diana Shearwood
An old grain silo in Montreal that used to be filled with grain is now filled with sound. Emmanuel Madan and Thomas McIntosh -- known as "The User" -- channel sounds via phone and the Internet into the silo. Sounds bounce around the Silophone -- as it is now called -- and a microphone picks up the echoes and returns them to the listener.

The silo's chambers reach up to 10 stories high and have an impressive reverberation time of more than 20 seconds. Even simple sounds are transformed into something completely different.

Silo #5 grain elevator in the Old Port of Montréal Interior of Silo #5
photo courtesy: Diana Shearwood
Silo #5 was built in 1958 and has been called a masterpiece of modern architecture. The building has three separate sections, joined together by elevated corridors. The elevator was used to store grain which came to the port of Montreal by rail and departed by sea.

Due to changes in the global grain market, the elevator became obsolete and was closed in 1996. But now, Madan and McIntosh say they have given the structure a new function.