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Using historical instruments in the orchestra -

Frogs croaking, a Big Band and the Novachord can be heard in Fragilis - listen now

Richard Powers’ 2014 book Orfeo
Recounting a life of writing new music for dwindling audiences with a startling conclusion.
Listen to an interview

Read a review of Finland’s Defunensemble in performance at BIFEM in 2015

A great new collaboration for looped violin. Read more

Listen while you browse:
Petit Air 1 from The Quiet Girl Suite for solo violin

The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago today - read my recollections

Fretless bass and trombone in a semi-improvised work The Portal

On the radio talking about what musicals can be like for musicians! hear here

Amplification in a recital venue? read more....

new photos and info about workshops added - more...

My impressions of Dark Twin at the 2015 Metropolis New Music Festival
click to read

Review: After Life at the Melbourne Festival 2012 - read more...

The Compositor (2013) examples and audio

The colour of silence identified? read more

Current Projects

Improvising Space

The expansion of improvisation in mainstream contemporary classical art music today is an area that can be traced back to the many compositional experiments and converging musical styles of the 1950s. This is addressed in my PhD by introducing guided improvisation into a notated and composed ensemble context. The primary research outcomes are scores and recordings of over an hour of music written for a variety of different ensemble configurations. The works composed for the folio are based on many of the already well-documented innovations and techniques of pioneering composers Edgard Varèse (1883—1965) and Charles Mingus (1922—1979).

Varèse’s treatment of space went beyond the vertical space between instrumental registers and horizontal space of rhythm, to the idea that music be open enough to allow a musical thought or sound to pursue its own direction. In parallel to this, Mingus’ collective improvisation was evolving to incorporate methods and effects borrowed from modern concert music, including adopting extended instrumental techniques to create layers of sound effects, and writing episodic pieces. My composed works incorporate many of Varèse’s manifestations of sonic space, and inspired by Mingus, these have been extended to provide the players with a new realm of freedom. The research includes the development of an original framework of instructions to encourage the musicians to vary the playing techniques of written notes, including altering joins, sustain length and horizontal placement. These are augmented by written performance actions to steer the negotiation and interaction in the ensemble, including how to adapt, fragment, re-incorporate and deviate from materials within a work.


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Ensemble Density
In 1957, pioneering electronic composer Edgard Varèse directed a group of jazz musicians playing a graphic score. The liveliness of the playing was breathtaking and signalled the tentative beginnings of a brand new music. Ensemble Density imagines what might have happened had this project been gone further; a contemporary chamber music where interplay and improvisation sit comfortably alongside the composed.

Our launch concerts took place in September 2017 at the Melbourne Fringe Festival — visit our website to see some of the wonderful images from the night.

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Nunique Quartet
“Nuniques” was a large scale series of works that Keith Humble created in Melbourne in the 1960s that placed an “emphasis on the practical, the immediate, on music being made (even composed) for the audience here and now, on the spot” (from John Whiteoak’s Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1836-1970). The works freely combined concepts, systems, designs, performance talent, recorded sound, technology, music or text, however the improvisational freedom was always within a tightly directed framework.

We formed Nunique Quartet (Brigid Burke, Steve Falk, Megan Kenny and Charles MacInnes) as a vehicle for the exploration of these ideas. Visual material—from still images to silent abstract film—often acts as score or referent for the music created.

For more information about the players, samples of the works and upcoming performances please visit our website.