This “Wave Organ” In The Harbor Plays Haunting Music Generated By The Ocean

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

This “Wave Organ” In The Harbor Plays Haunting Music Generated By The Ocean

Make sure you go at high tide!

In the Marina district of SF, you’ll find a unique outdoor installation that’s more than just a cool-looking art installation. The Wave Organ, created by artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez in 1986, is an acoustic sculpture activated by the waves of the San Francisco Bay. Its haunting  music comes from 25 different organ pipes placed at different levels around the sculpture, changing with the rise and fall of the tides.

[Image: @frodsgnal via Instagram]

Peter Richards, a senior artist at the Exploratorium, developed the Wave Organ concept thanks to a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was inspired by recordings from artist Bill Fontana, of sounds coming feom a vent pipe in Sydney, Australia.

Frank Oppenheimer, Founding Director of the Exploratorium, acquired permits and headed fundraising for the Wave Organ after a very successful prototype was presented at the New Music ’81 Festival. Oppenheimer passed away 7 months before the current Wave Organ was constructed, and it was dedicated in his name.

[Image: @frodsgnal via Instagram]


The organ was created in collaboration with sculptor and stonemason George Gonzalez, starting in September 1985 and finishing in May 1986. The sculpture was created with material from a demolished cemetery, including headstones and carved granite and marble.s

25 organ pipes are placed at varying heights, and the waves’ impact against the pipes creates subtle, haunting music. Listen closely and make sure you go at high tide to experience the Wave Organ at its best. Check the tides here!

Find the Wave Organ in the San Francisco Harbor at 83 Marina Green Drive.


[Featured Image: @frodsgnal via Instagram]

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