1. If monsters are common…
2. Narcissus (excerpt)
4. Narcissus (excerpt) – echo
5. 2 (excerpt)
1. If monsters are common…
2. Narcissus (excerpt)
4. Narcissus (excerpt) – echo
5. 2 (excerpt)
This last Friday as part of our final assessment for our arranging subject at VCAM we had some big band charts played by the Victorian Police Band. This is my pseudo-concession to commercial band writing, filtered through a recent nostalgia for Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus. Conducted by Daryl McKenzie.
It’s amazing what the acoustics of a particular room can do to mutate the natural sound of instruments, aside from the obvious distortion resulting from my little recording device being too close to a very loud band you’ll notice that the trumpets seem to get swallowed up in the background, the opposite of what one would expect, consistently overpowered even by the saxes. So in short, the acoustic of the room where this was recorded was weird in the extreme.
This was a dance project I worked on in 2008 with choreographer Caley O’Neill as part of the completion of her Masters Degree at VCA. The music explores space and a kind of lyrical minimalism, using computer editing to tease a short excerpt of piano improvisation into a 25 minute theme and variations. Both the dance and the sound were very much inspired by the words of Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas, in this instance largely by his book The House in the Dark which describes Norway’s involvement in World War II, in particular depicting the goings on in a country house during wartime using it as a metaphor for the country as a whole.
Caley’s words about the piece are below…
This is Where They Are is an installation piece that explores the writing of Tarjei Vesaas. A Norwegian writer with a gift for detail, his novel The House in the Dark has been the stimulant for this work. Written during the war, its controversial words saw it buried in a zinc box for 5 years until it publishing in 1947. Filled with deranged yet fascinating characters this work explores the many physical traits they posses and their inhabiting of the house.
This year has taken me on an amazing journey, on which I have been lucky enough to discover the essence of my own art making. Here I search to find a deeper more embodied performative state in which thick physical environments are created. Through a deeply investigated exploration of improvisation I have tried to create an immersive and intricate physical style that is both interesting and immersive.
Derrida talks of our societies obsession with sense making. However it is here that I ask you to do no such thing. Sit and watch, listen and feel, I ask that you let your imagination do the rest.
I know only how this work is structured…..not what it is about.
Created By: Caley O’Neill
Choreographer – Caley O’Neill in collaboration with the performers
Performers – Alex O’Neill-King, Susan Van Den Ham and Jessica Devereux
Costume and Set Design – Emily Collett and Caley O’Neill
Composer – Camille Robinson
Lighting Design – Alexandre Malta and Caley O’Neill
A quick bit of background on this event: earlier this year the Institute of Italian Culture and the VCAM school of Music held a series of workshops hosted by Carlo Forlivesi as part of the composition competition “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space”, for which all the participants selected a poem by an Italian poet from a list provided, and composed a work inspired by the text. The intention of the competition was to celebrate the Italian language, as well as mark the centenary of the founding of the Italian Futurist movement. Following the workshops three finalists were selected from the participants, Chiaki Kato, Mike Solomon and myself, and the ensemble Quiver prepared the work s for performance at the final culmination of the process: today’s concert at Iwaki Auditorium.
This afternoon Quiver (Aviva Endean, Jessica Fotinos, Rebecca Lane, Luke Paulding, Matthias Schack-Arnott) delivered a pretty amazing performance premiering Kato’s “Alti Alati”, Solomon’s “granini di luce beccuciati da uccelli di silenzio” and my piece “5 Epigrams”. A special mention should also go to Flavia Coassin and Tindaro Di Luca for their recitations of the poetry, and of course thanks to the main organisers Dr Stefano Fossati and Dr Donna Coleman. The concert was recorded by the ABC and hopefully I’ll soon have some audio to put on here, at least an excerpt. I believe I also saw someone there videoing the event, and hopefully I can get hold of a copy as audio only wouldn’t really do the piece justice, there being a lot of visual performance elements.
As for my piece itself I’m glad I had such dedicated performers working on it, digging into the text of the poem and my research on the Futurist movement took me out on a limb with a few of the ideas I threw in there and being the excellent performers they are Quiver made it work. What follows is the text from the preamble that Dr Coleman read out before the piece.
“This piece picks out what I found to be the most vivid phrases in each
section of Ventroni’s text, and responds to and illustrates them
aurally and peformatively. These at times confronting images and the
abstract mode of their combination formed the foundation of this
piece, upon which I composed my own poem in sound.
At a fundamental level inspiration was also taken from the rhythms of
Ventroni’s language in the original and in translation, and from the
very idea of translation itself, which as an English speaker was
unavoidable in dealing with the text and which became very important
to me in making this work.”
Dictaphone recording of the premiere of ‘Burning Water’ by the Southbank Brass Ensemble at BMW Edge. Conducted by Russell Davis.
Recording of the premiere of Red Tree . Red Earth . Red Water by the Yarra Trio at Melba Hall in 2008.
Red Tree . Red Earth . Red Water is one of a group of compositions concerned with the idea of stillness and the attempt to arrest time in what is essentially a temporal medium. This is my first foray into the piano trio genre and also serves as a preliminary exploration of the timbral palette which can be drawn from this particular group of instruments. The title of this piece is not intended to communicate a specific narrative or image, but rather exists as a point of reference from which the listener may experience the music.
This is a recording I made using my little dictaphone at the VCAM Soundout concert, the recording comes up surprisingly well, and the music’s not half bad either.
This was almost exclusively a recording project apart from a few performances for friends. It a massive technical achievement for me and my very modest sound engineering skills and ended up being a bit of crash course for me in that regard. I recorded it in my lounge room with a moderately OK laptop and an SM57 microphone (anyone with any knowledge of sound will know that’s far from an ideal choice for a recording using solely acoustic instruments, akin to Kubrick using a mobile phone camera to shoot 2001:A Space Odyssey). The performers were myself and my wife Bec, singing, strumming guitar, blowing melodicas, bashing tambourines and glockenspiels, pounding at a harmonium and sawing at a violin. The focus of this project for me, apart from the technical recording stuff, was writing melody and convincing my voice to carry one. The lyrics aren’t massively far removed from the Tang ones, jokey or at least ironic, although less dark…ish. I don’t mean to brag but I outdid myself on the cover art for this one, I spent a lot of time in Photoshop faking my and Bec’s embossed silhouettes on an old book cover.
The Robinson Family Singers – The Robinson Family Singers
Peace Love & Sunshine (The Man)
Not A Lighthouse Keeper
The Dirty Bird
The Biggest Hit
After The End
Butterflies & Bumblebees
Little Tiny Robots
Sweet Little Lies
This band continued my creative relationship with drummer John Fredericks after Ortonomy finished up and it indulged a penchant for the style of the band Primus we all had at the time. Unfortunately over time that penchant wore thin for me and ofter Johnno moved interstate I hung around just long enough to complete our CD. The line up was: myself on guitar, voice and writing songs, Nathan Laidler on bass, voice and writing songs and John Fredericks on drums. All the songs in this band had a black comic tone and we reveled in a certain grotesque cartooniness. I have to say I’m very proud of the cover art I designed which features a set of plasticine caricatures I made of the band, and photos featuring me with perfectly straight super long hair and my wife Bec in a chicken costume. With a few more personnel shuffles somehow Nathan has managed to keep Tang going to this day (4 and a half years later), I admire his tenacity. Our achievements, apart from making the recording, included again winning the NMIT heats of the National Campus Bands Competition, beating the soon be very successful hip-hop band Fizard, goes to show competitions don’t mean all that much. We also won the band category in the 2004 Acoustic Underground competition.
Tang – Sweet & Salty
Go To Woe
The Chicken Song
Likes To Play
Rollercoaster Ride to Hell
(also a rewritten version of Hodown 2)