Plug in, press play and relax into a dream-like hour of contemporary compositions from our featured Australian composers. In this month’s Dream Waves playlist listen out for some common characteristics between these 10 stunning works, in the use of melodic lines, resonance, atmospheric effects, diatonic languages, ambience, repetition and an innate sense of reflection and stillness. Predominantly featuring works for acoustic instruments, we were delighted to find that the electronic works and sound art from Marlene Radice and David Newnes contributed to and expanded on the theme. Join us as we float away over the next sixty minutes with a final playlist for 2017. We’re thrilled to end the year on such a beautiful note!
This month we’ve brought together a number of compositions that relate to jazz or world music in varying degrees, sometimes not in the most direct or obvious way. Where are the boundaries between contemporary classical and jazz styles? What are different ways composers look to wider folk and world musics for inspiration? Many composers featured this month effortlessly weave in and out of jazz/improvisatory and classical practice, creating fascinating and eclectic bodies of work. We hear in some of the works a focus on melody and harmony, with folk tunes or a chart-based approach. Several works for sax ensembles or big band are of the toe-tapping variety while others have an adventurous contemporary flavour. Yet other works are scored for small colouristic bands or chamber ensembles. We hope you enjoy this ride through a diverse collection of sounds.
Brian Eno was quoted to have once said:
“Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”
This month we bring you a beautiful mix of atmospheric, electronic and instrumental works that are hardly ignorable and strikingly ambient. Each composition bravely explores few musical ideas, spaces and concepts, often influenced by landscape and the universe. They invite us as listeners to sit and really listen, to savour, to challenge, to entrance, to entice for as little as 6 minutes to 18 minutes. We encourage you to listen for slow unfolding patterns and harmony, repetition, explorations of colour and fluctuations of texture and density we float away with this stimulating hour of ambience.
For some time we’ve been taking note when composers submit works to the Making Waves curation pool that feature the voice, text, singing, speech. In September 2016 we compiled the Spoken Waves playlist; we’re delighted to revisit a similar theme exactly 1 year later with the present playlist, Vocal Waves. As always, we try to find works that fit the theme as well as challenge it, so the works range from children’s choir to rhythmic use of speech in the context of a percussion ensemble, showcasing the breadth of possibilities for the human voice. With several multi-part works, we also really enjoy the gravitation to song-form, both through shorter-form and multi-movement works here.
August has been a hugely busy month for the Making Waves team! In between team members travelling internationally, the Making Conversation podcast, attending and hosting a panel at the Women in the Creative Arts Conference at Australian National University, we had to take a break from the playlist at the beginning of the month. Instead, we’re delighted to bring you a bonus guest-curated playlist in the lead-up to BIFEM, that’s Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, taking place September 1-4, 2017. We hand over the reins to Artistic Director David Chisholm, who’s handpicked some of the composers performed at the upcoming festival for this playlist. You can find out more about David here.
“Making a choice of works by composers from within a festival in which you have already curated them, presents a peculiar curatorial challenge insofar as they are clearly integral to current crop of composers one finds oneself focussed on. Conveniently for me, the specific championing of Australian music that defines Making Waves, a geographical filter automatically knocked out a lot of 2017 BIFEM contenders. When I looked at what connects me to all these composers,I feel that they all share a habit for turning over rocks and looking under. Each of them has the sort of inquiry-led work that I find so enriching as a listener. Each is idiomatic in their musical life and that is really all i look for: a point of view, and more importantly, a point of difference in the music itself, not the discourse around it. Each of these composers understands the ritual nature of music, and knows how to plug in the listen to that sense of ritual. Each of them are stars in my eyes.”
About BIFEM: Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music strutted onto the international music scene in September 2013, winning critical praise from around the world and delivering festival and broadcast audiences a visceral experience. With an emphasis on premiere or rarely performed long form works, BIFEM platforms virtuosity in musicianship and innovation in composition. BIFEM’s resident ensemble Argonaut is drawn from a flexible roster of virtuosi from across Australia and from visiting international guests, playing together exclusively in Bendigo.
Bendigo is culturally alive, and its audiences are savvy and brave. While this great Central Victorian city is widely recognised for its visual and plastic arts culture, Bendigo is also a deeply musical city. The Bendigo Symphony Orchestra, City of Greater Bendigo Brass Band, Bendigo Chorale, Undue Noise, Bendigo Chamber Choir and many of the high school music streams all present dynamic annual programmes. In recent years, the Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival and Bendigo Writers Festival have flourished. BIFEM belongs in Bendigo.
This month we’re so pleased to have another current Making Waves Intern, Mark Wolf, guest-curate the playlist. About the Temporal theme, Mark writes:
“Whether gripped by the unfolding drama of a new novel, or immersed in the onscreen action of an epic film, or even stimulated by listening to an engaging piece of music, have you ever enjoyed the experience of an effortless concentration so deep that you lose your sense of time?
The works featured in this playlist all exhibit a paradoxical timeless quality. Each composition is connected with a temporal process, varying in nature from structured improvisation, ‘mobile moment form’ and slowly evolving spectrums of sound, all supporting temporal independence and ensemble freedom. Temporal manipulation is also observed through the exaggeration, expansion and fragmentation of musical time and events influenced by the natural world and architectural spatial design. These pieces are all in some way temporally ambiguous, successful in challenging the listeners’ perception of chronometric time.
The Making Waves team were especially delighted when Mark and Marlene touched base with their playlists to find that the music in both sets covered Space and Time! Many thanks to Mark for his curatorial input this month: you can find out more about Mark here.
On a sadder note, all of us here at the Making Waves team were devastated to hear the news that our colleague and friend, composer James Wade, had died unexpectedly on 17 June 2017. We had known James through university, or work, or various composer opportunities that he had brought his beautiful and contemplative music to. We cherish conversations with a quiet man who had a quirky sense of humour and passion for his art. There will be a memorial celebration in honour of James at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music on Thursday 6 July 2017, details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/334245760322603/
We’re delighted to hand over the reins this month to composer and current Making Waves Intern Marlene Radice, who has curated this Space-themed playlist. About the works chosen and the over-arching theme, Marlene writes:
This playlist centres around compositions with a relationship to space. Space as a tangible area of existence, space as a gestural device, spacialisation of music and the idea of space in relation to places outside of our immediate consciousness.
Listening to this playlist and exploring how composers address these themes made me think of concepts such as wabi-sabi and the importance of the spaces between elements, and accepting sounds for their imperfections. What we don’t hear is just as important as the sounds we observe. These pieces all somehow explore what lies between what we hear and what we see.
We love discovering the resonances among these works: instrumental – several string quartets, various uses of electronics including Peter Anthony Smith on the Akai Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI); thematic – auras, aliens and nature; and stylistic – there is an expansiveness and dimension evoked by each work in its own way. Many thanks to Marlene for her care in compiling this playlist. You can find out more about Marlene here.
Also, dear listeners, thank you for your patience with us as we took last month off from playlists to focus on the launch of the Making Conversation: Australian Podcast. As at 1 June, we’ve released 6 shows from this 30-episode series, conversations between talented emerging music journalists and composers Anne Cawrse (SA), Michael Sollis (ACT), Annie Hsieh (USA), May Lyon (VIC), Alex Turley (WA) & Jenna Cave (NSW). If you’re already a subscriber, we thank you for joining us over at iTunes, via RSS or other podcast apps at this link, or via Making Waves e-bulletins. If you’re not, do join us at your preferred platform so that you don’t miss a thing!
Happy 1st of the month! We’re stopping by to let you know that we’re taking a short break during May from the usual monthly playlist release. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of music and insightful interviews for you check out instead!
We’re over the moon to introduce you to our brand new Australian Composers’ Podcast titled ‘Making Conversation‘.
Percussion. Composers love it for its diversity, its flexibility and the timbral options for striking, plucking, rubbing, scraping or otherwise interacting with a musical or found object. This month we’re thrilled to offer a wonderful hour of percussive and rhythm-centred works. From marimba solos evoking animals, Tuscan sunsets, or Greek mythology, to improvisation, polyrhythms or prepared harpsichord, this playlist is as diverse as ever and the resulting sounds are wide-ranging, always with the particularly heightened quality brought by percussive gestures and physicality. This month’s playlist image was photographed by Making Waves Intern and composer Mark Wolf: we see the corrugations in a metal fence, undulating like waves, shadows cast by the sunlight. We also, like many composers, see an instrument!
Did you know that we’re about to release our very first podcast series? It’s called the Making Conversation: Australian Podcast and it drops on iTunes and everywhere else on Friday April 21, 2017, with one episode released weekly. The team can not wait to share these amazing conversations with Making Waves listeners and podcast fans! We encourage you to subscribe to our iTunes channel, via RSS or other podcast apps, or to the Making Waves e-bulletins so that you don’t miss a thing. Here’s a little preview!
We are delighted to celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 with this special edition playlist! Clear your listening schedules and settle in to explore a mammoth archive of music from many of the Australian composers (and some Canadians too) featured in monthly playlists spanning January 2015 through to March 2017.
Whether composing as one who just happens to be female, through to exploring gender, femininity and feminism through their works, the archive below attests to the diversity of women working in the compositional spectrum.
Keep kicking your goals, fellow women! The arts wouldn’t be half the diverse, unique, story-telling, mind-blowing, challenging and beautiful space it is without you. We’re behind you and encourage you to take an active role in a connected, supportive community. There is room for everyone here: ears are open. We can’t wait to listen to all the music you’re going to submit to us in 2017! Happy International Women’s Day!
– Lisa & Peggy
I’m not quite queer yet, but I can catch a glimpse of a queer world — that is, a world designed for queers instead of against us — with radically reconfigured politics, ways of knowing and feeling, ways of existing with each other. – Dan Thorpe
This month’s playlist, Social Activism Waves, is a collection of works that interrogate or reflect on many different aspects of society, culture, identity or politics. The compositions include personal narratives or commentaries on subjects as wide-ranging as: mental health, terrorism, the environment, AIDs activism in the 80s-90s, refugees, queer and gender identity. By using the term “activism” it is not our intention to define or narrow/box in the output or stance of the ten composers featured below. Rather, it acknowledges that in this particular work they have publicly offered a strong position; something deeply stirring, confessional, reflective or all of the above. Many of the composers featured have been kind enough to offer some additional words about their motivations in writing their work. We encourage you to read these comments by clicking on their name below.
I can honestly say I was torn while writing this piece. I am motivated to write for injustice and to give a musical voice to inequality. At the same time, I felt uncomfortable to be composing “as a woman”. I don’t see my music as gendered. My ovaries do not compose. – May Lyon
The timing of this playlist is not random. At this current moment in time, national and international politics are careening hard right – further than some of us thought possible. Funding climates continue to create tension for all artists, adding to our growing concerns over the treatment of our planet and our fellow human beings. For many, an inward retreat to the purely musical is one way of coping. Others ask, “What can I do? How can I as a musician express this or inspire change?” No one way is more worthy. We encourage you to listen, read, explore, support the composers, discuss, share and contribute to this playlist in any form. We also welcome your comments below. Our immense thanks to our talented composers for this touching playlist that has offered us much food for thought and inspiration.
Between a quarter and a third of the Great Barrier Reef has died due to coral bleaching by pollution and climate change. Despite the severity and publicity of this catastrophe, politicians refuse to address the issue, and my current part time job constantly forces me to witness the wasteful and apathetic attitude of the general public regularly. – Aidan Maizels
For the first playlist of 2017 we’ve ventured into the world of Spotify, which, fairly or unfairly, has attracted controversy in the streaming world. Despite the fact that this month’s playlist is platform-dependent, we adore some of the coincidental thematic resonances across the featured works: particularly the focus on birds and birdsong alongside human vocals, overt or otherwise. We also dare you to spot the Whitney Houston references in there somewhere!
A little more about our streaming platform this month. Most of our playlists to date have been curated from content on Soundcloud, which enables composers and ensembles to freely upload both live and studio recordings, meaning we can feature recordings that are not yet commercially available. Spotify, on the other hand, has some barriers to entry, usually requiring the music to be submitted by an aggregator service, which composers and labels would normally use for a commercial digital release. For us here at Making Waves, this means we inevitably receive less submissions of Spotify content, and that the ones we do receive tend to arrive from composers who are some way along their career journey. What is also nice about Spotify is that royalties are payable, unlike Soundcloud, so please listen multiple times and explore the albums that the tracks are from, and hopefully all this month’s composers will see a little spike on their APRA statement!
We hope you enjoy this wonderful collection of diversely beautiful music by some of our finest Australian composers!