Dan Thorpe


Dan Thorpe is a queer Performer//Composer based in Adelaide, South Australia.

Influenced by everything from queer punk to American experimentalism, Dan Thorpe’s music “decimat[es] the boundaries of genre” [CutCommon, 2016]. His broad base of musical experience is reflected in a curious, experimental and genre defying compositional and performance output linked together by a love of storytelling and sense of irreverence for existing forms. As a composer, his work always has a focus on collaborative, open approaches to composition that stress the importance of performers’ creative input in musical expression. As a performer, his focus is on contemporary Australian repertoire, work by queer and women composers, and multi-instrumental improvisation.
As a composer, Dan’s work has been performed as part of highSCORE Festival [IT], Fresh Minds Festival [Tx, US], Æpex Ensemble’s Soundsystem Takeover  [US, Mi], and he has had works premiered by Ensemble Offspring [AU, NSW], Soundstream Collective [AU, SA], the Australian String Quartet [AU], Kelsey Walsh [US, Ca/DE (Berlin)], and Conrad Tao [US, NY]. He was an inaugural recipient of the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund. As a performer, he has performed around Australia and Internationally at iconic experimental venues (from Sydney’s Red Rattler to San Francisco’s Center for New Music), has self released an LP and EP, an EP on thiswaterfallisyours and a upcoming tape on 3BS records. In 2017, he is writing for the WASO, and has upcoming performances in New York, San Francisco and around Australia. You can find out more via his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/danthorpemusician), and www.danthorpe.net

Composer website:  www.danthorpe.net


For You, I Sing in Colours, for cello and electronics.

“The first time I saw the ‘cello played was in a tiny classroom with twenty other people crammed, in the heat of early Autumn in Adelaide, in a tight formation around Janis Laurs. He played the first bach suite, sang along with the internal counterpoint, swayed back ++ forth ++ left ++ right in his chair. “For You” pushes the memory of how those open and stopped strings hung in the hot, dry air through effects pedals, feeds it back on itself, blows it out of proportion… it’s minimal//maximal//self indulgent and heavy metal and Janis Laurs swaying back and forth in that creaking chair in the heat; it’s the echo of the human voice we hear in those strings, volume turned up to eleven.”

Featured in Playlist 7: Eclectic Waves, 31/7/2015

Monologue, for sample performer from a graphic score.

Monologue was my first completely graphic work. I was, and still am, interested in how the ways we represent sound delimit what we can do with sound. In this piece, I was interested in the idea of focussing on space and gesture, and how they could exist as a point of focus outside of concerns for pitch, rhythm, texture, etc. I still love Alexander Thumm’s interpretation of this piece because, like so much of his work, it went into territory I would never have considered myself but in a way that was conceptually and musically true to my goals for the piece.

Featured in Minimalist Waves October 2016

Considerate, for Piano and Electronics.

Nixon’s poem is a gentle, but provocative interrogation of a white masculinity that sits uncomfortably with its cultural baggage. Trying to find meaning when it feels like your life has already been scripted from birth to death, needing to be prompted to feel things but immediately being ashamed of that, feeling invisible but at the same time totally exposed. For me, this text resonates with how I felt before coming out; a combination of wanting to break from the script, but knowing that with that comes visibility.
Additional Words from the Composer:
For me, “queer” is a something that’s not quite here yet. Sure, it’s something we can feel in the here-and-now, but that’s definitely a then-and-there [Muñoz, 2009]. 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. Queer is a slippery word and a slippery concept, and that’s the point — it’s a word that points at a totally different world, and I want to make spaces in my work where we can feel the edges of that world start to take shape. It’s the edges of this world grating against our own that drew me to Rhys Nixon’s Considerate. “if I tackled a police officer, would the police officer notice me, or would the police officer step aside?“. Nixon beautifully articulates this foggy space between a sense of a cis white masculinity that doesn’t fit and the society that privileges it above all else. There’s this beautiful (but palpable) tension (and DISTANCE) between this “normal”, straight life-script, and these outbursts of surreal, queer energy. I approached this text with this uneasy, microtonal diatonicism; using field recordings of very, very out of tune pianos in the basement of the Elder Conservatorium, mic’d uncomfortably close. This sense of being boxed in, but with moments of queer virtuosity and openness.

Featured in Social Activism Waves March 2017


Dan Thorpe was interviewed for the Making Conversation: Australian Composers’ Podcast, Episode 13, 20/10/16.