Something Borrowed, Something Blue

A few years back, I toured with a band as part of a film called Silence. The movie itself was silent; the actors performed their parts, while the musicians provided the music. The score was written by Jon Sampson, who also played upright bass for the production. I was a jack of all trades. I played rhythm guitar, a de-tuned zither, a trumpet played through a leslie speaker, djembe, cymbals and "The Duchamp":

The Duchamp, a readymade instrument by John Kieltyka.

The Duchamp in the orchestra pit.

The film required the sound of an old film projector, and Jon had initially rigged this up by spinning a small bicycle wheel that had cards in the spokes. As soon as I was asked to play this part, I thought of Marcel Duchamp's 1913 Bicycle Wheel:

Marcel Duchamp next to Bicycle Wheel, 1963.

Jon gave me a larger front wheel from an old bicycle he had in his back yard. I then took an old chair and cut the back off it and drilled a hole through the seat. I didn't have any cards, so Jon gave me some Top rolling paper packs. I taped them to the fender with gaffer's tape, and I was set.

The Duchamp's sound-making apparatus.

Finally, I taped a picture of Duchamp's original readymade sculpture to the seat along with the name of this "instrument" - The Duchamp

The seat of The Duchamp

I played The Duchamp down the West Coast, from Seattle to Los Angeles, engraving the names and dates of each show into its seat. The last show we played was in New York City, after which The Duchamp was retired.

-John Kieltyka