The Tri-phonic Turntable (1997), by Janek Schaefer, is inspired by the work of composer and choreographer Philip Jeck. In particular Vinyl Requiem, an installation/performance which utilised 180 Dansette record players from the ’50s and ’60s. Jeck mounted them on a vertical scaffold and set them all to play simultaneously.
The Tri-phonic Turntable, however, aims to do the opposite. Instead of using many record players to play different records Schaefer combined several record players in one portable device. The objective being to enable the artist to create accidents and discover new sounds locked inside old vinyl finds.
“It needed to be compact, so I decided that three arms was an optimum number,” writes the sound artist. “I could use each tone arm for the left, the right and the centre channels of the stereo field. The revolution speed needed to be as flexible as possible so that any speed within its boundaries could be set. Micro-variable control. Very importantly a reverse mode was essential and just for good measure I designed it so that up to 3 records could be played at once. This was possible by putting a 7″ or 10″ on top of an LP on the platter and then by using a central spacer another disc can be placed above and played by the third arm which I fitted at a higher level. Practically speaking this covered all potential possibilities [except one arm playing upside down on the underside of the raised disc]. Finally I routed the stereo signal from each arm through an integrated mixer to make it truly self contained.”