In the new Netflix drama “Fatherhood,” released June 18, single father Matthew Logelin, played by Kevin Hart, takes his daughter, Maddy, and date, Lizzie, to the Boston Children’s Museum. Outside the museum, the trio play the Musical Closing, an interactive installation designed by Daniel Joseph and his team at The Pickup Music Project.
“The scene is similar to what happened in real life,” Joseph said. “You would see a child walk up to the fence and start playing. Then their parents would join them, and finally, you might see a father who appreciates the musical experience more than the child.
Exhibited from April to October 2019, the musical closing seen in “Fatherhood” is just one of many musical sculptures created by The Pickup Music Project since its founding in 2016.
Joseph, a native of Boston and a resident of Somerville, attributes his work with The Pickup Music Project to a book and a sculpture.
During his undergraduate studies at Tufts University, Joseph read “Comment Musical Is Man?” by John Blacking. In it, Blacking argues for the importance of participatory music, which encourages listeners to take part in musical creation.
“We’re not assuming that watching a basketball game you’re going to burn calories or enjoy the benefits of playing,” Joseph said. “Maybe the same goes for music. “
Joseph’s research continued in his graduation thesis, when he came across a sculpture at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln. The “Musical Closure” by Paul Matisse, the grandson of the famous French painter Henri Matisse, was originally installed in two pieces – one in major key and one in minor key – outside Cambridge Town Hall in 1980. Eventually the fences were moved due to noise complaints, one towards the Cordova Museum, where he has lived since 1989.
Inspired by the work of Matisse, Joseph and his team took over with their own sound sculptures, made of aluminum pipes of different sizes.
“It’s like lifting the keys of a piano, shuffling them all and putting them back,” Joseph said. “If you run along the fence you get a melody.”
They built musical fences for the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival 2016 in Wisconsin, the Newport Folk Festival 2018 in Rhode Island, and the 2019 installations at Cambridge Crossing and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
While many of Joseph’s installations are temporary exhibits at music festivals, school campuses, and museums, he has built a permanent musical fence along the Mystic River at Torbert MacDonald State Park.
Another permanent piece, “Player-Fence”, will debut in July at The Common at CX in Cambridge. Integrating electronics and Internet connectivity, it will be able to play on its own.
“I hope that through the music people smile and get some respite from the constant deluge of verbal and mental chatter we live in throughout the day,” Joseph said.
Kyung Mi Lee can be contacted at [email protected]