by Rose Betit
Play: that’s what it’s like in this area of Montréal, where the streets and open areas are alive with music, events, and interactive displays (most of them free) for residents of Montréal and visitors alike, no matter the season.
One of my favorite interactive displays is “21 Balancoires” (21 Swings). It is comprised of several sets of swings, 21 in total, all lined up in a row along the Promenade des Artistes. At first hearing of this, you may ask, ”What’s the big deal?”
They play music! That’s what the big deal is. Created and designed by Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, 21 Balancoires at the Quartier des Spectacles will be in place starting from today, August 8th to September 5th 2016.
They are not only swings, but together, they make a giant instrument that is played in a collective, carefree, effort by those swinging on them. When a ”balancoire” is in motion, it makes a series of musical notes as it moves back and forth. When many swings are in motion, they combine to make a giant, interactive, musical device with varying melodies produced. There is a different musical note on each swing. It can even make the sound of a piano, a guitar, a harp, a xylophone and many more while lighting up at night !
On a beautiful early autumn day, my husband and I went down to the Quartier Des Spectacles to take a look at the popular attraction that is brought back to Montréal 2 times every year. (spring and late summer into early fall) Walking toward the Promenade, I could hear the melodies being produced by already occupied swings. The sound was of a dreamy, enchanting quality making it almost impossible for people to just walk by without at least pausing to watch.
As I waited for my turn to take a swing, one thing that struck me as interesting was how many were occupied by adults instead of children; about 18 or 19 out of 21. I mused about what it was about this exhibit that seemed to attract more adults than children.
I was in the middle of my thoughts, when my husband tugged on my sleeve. `Two are empty! `, he said excitedly and took my hand to lead me to claim our spots. Five or so seconds in, I realised why there were mostly adults on the swings.
Throwing my head back and closing my eyes, I was almost immediately harkened to a time in my life when play was the most important thing. The music the swing produced further influenced this feeling. I opened my eyes and shared a coordinated effort with my husband to produce a melody.
We laughed. No, we giggled. We were enchanted.
We could have stayed there for at least an hour or more, but noticing many people (again, mostly adults) were gathering to wait their turn, we had to behave and share.