On my recent vacation to the Nevada desert for the Burning Man festival, I stumbled upon an Art camp that was literally down the block from my own camp. Instantly I was drawn to it, seeing that they had erected the largest Tesla coil I have ever witnessed. I found myself looking forward to nightfall when this monument would be best viewed. To my surprise, when I got to the structure to investigate, it not only created lightning but it was generating music.
The project was built by Coup de Foudre, a group of physicist, electrical engineers & computer scientist. They funded their project through crowd sourcing. Using a proven design for the coil, they mounted it on an art structure that reminded me of an upside- down crane claw. Their idea was to create a space where people could dance under the sparking coil to music created by the arcing lightning.
The sound is produced by the creation of pressurized waves of air, much like a normal speakers produce. Unlike normal speakers these waves are created by heating the air with lightning instead of pushing the air with a cone. The music was provided primarily by a midi keyboard, but occaisionally with a mp3 player (but with less successful results). Both sources were connected thru fiber-optic cable. You can see a video of this unique “speaker” in action. For those of you wondering, “No, we cannot repair these at Speaker Exchange….Yet.”