In ‘Whisperings: Whistleblowers’ the atmospheric sensibility of electro-acoustic wind instruments is grounded as political voices are mixed into and amplified by the wind. At a time when whistleblowers expose the ways in which we are manipulated by invisible powers, these instruments transform uncomfortable revelations, warnings, and signals into sounds and chants, narrated by artificially generated voices.

The ‘Whisperings’ sono-choreographic environments intersect the whisper, that speech-act at the limits of audibility, with the urgency of unheard (or at least under-represented) perspectives/ideas/stories. Each instantiation of this environment performs these critical whispers through various texts and instruments.


In a popular Greek myth, Pan the satyr challenged the sun god Apollo, contending that his flute playing was more beautiful than Apollo’s Lyra. Tmolos, the mountain god is called to judge on this and favors Apollo’s sounding strings. King Midas disagrees however, and favors Pan’s flute. Furious, Apollo transforms Midas’ ears into donkey ears and Midas, in shame, hides them for always under a hat. Only his barber gets to see his secret, but is not allowed to tell anyone. As he cannot bear this burden, the barber digs a small hole in the ground and whispers into it: King Midas has donkey ears. A group of nearby reeds overhear the whisper, and moving in the wind they echo in chorus King Midas has donkey ears, carrying the news throughout the land.

‘Whisperings: Whistleblowers’ is originally conceived as an outdoor sonic installation of a subtle political intervention. At a time when whistleblowers expose the ways in which we are manipulated by invisible hands, the work draws on three instances of whistleblowing, one mythical and two contemporary, which each make its public aware of being manipulated by those in power. Text from these three sources* (see below) are edited to play upon their semantic, sonic and aesthetic qualities of whistleblowing. These generated words are then sonified through machine learning algorithms and further transduced onto the atmospheric sensitivity of aeolian string instruments.

Seven electro-acoustic string-drum-horns transform, amplify and chant uncomfortable revelations, warning whistles and announcement signals.

These instruments are tuned to a Phrygian Greek Aulos mode, and resonate the natural elements and artificial voices in a spatialized and slightly chaotic constellation. What results is a blending of tuned whispers of the wind with electro-acoustically amplified political voices; a polyphony of wind and strings, acoustic and electronic, in which contemporary secrecies find an echo.

*The tale of King Midas, Ovid, Metamorphoses. Book 11, Jon Doe‘s’ Manifesto, Edward Snowden: ‚A manifesto for the truth‘

Collaborative Sound Installation with  the Sono-Choreographic Collective : Bnaya Halperin-Kaddari, Kerstin Ergenzinger & Kiran Kumar

Commissioned by Dystopia Sound Art Festival Berlin 2020. Outdoor permission canceled on short notice by Deutsche Bahn, single-instrument version realized at Alte Münze Foyer

© 2023 Bnaya Halperin-Kaddari. All rights reserved