Listening to Art

12.02: David Partridge, Metropolis

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume twelve, number two: Metropolis by David Partridge.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

This recording, first heard exactly five years ago in volume two number two, is another of a sculpture that I perform as an instrument. In this case, it is a naillie by Canadian artist David Partridge, or, as I called him, Mr. Patridge. Mr. Partridge was born in Ohio in 1919, went to university in Toronto, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War Two, and then moved around with his family, studying art in London and Paris. He returned to Canada in 1958 and died in Toronto in 2006. As I said when we first heard this recording:

One of the many wonderful things about David Partridge’s naillies is that you can touch them. Most sculptures you’re not allowed to touch, but Mr. Partridge didn’t mind—after all, they’re made of steel nails, and running your finger along them isn’t going to hurt them. What’s more, if the nails aren’t tightly spaced, you can drop a coin down, and it makes a beautiful randomly-generated sound as it finds a path through and falls to the ground. You’ll hear me doing this at the end of this recording.

This is a naillie, made of aluminum sheathing over plywood, with copper and galvanized steel nails, 924.6 cm wide by 227.3 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Metropolis by David Partridge, recorded at Toronto City Hall, in Toronto, on 02 November 2017.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Metropolis by David Partridge. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit

Listening to Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

City of Toronto. “A Step Forward in Time: Public Art.” City of Toronto.

Denton, William. “David Partridge, Metropolis.” Listening to Art 02, no. 02 (01 December 2017).

Wikipedia, s.v. “David Partridge (artist),”