Daniel Portelli


Daniel Portelli is a contemporary art music composer whose music involves a broad range of methodologies with a multidisciplinary focus; particularly the use of video as a sketching process for his composition practice; also staff notated practices, animated scores, writing for robotic instruments, and video installations as a way to represent musical experiences, such as presenting multiple gestures in independent time, ephemerality, and a focus on the kinaesthetic, and haptic pressures and surfaces that all contribute to a complex array of musical actions. Daniel’s music has been performed by: Tracensemble, Soundstream Collective, Adelaide Philharmonic Choir, Eunoia ensemble, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and by a robotic piano named RHEA. Daniel completed a PhD at Huddersfield University with main supervisor Professor Liza Lim and co-supervisor Professor Peter Ablinger.

Composer website: danielportelli.com.au


Hyperbodies, Robotic piano named RHEA .

Hyperbodies takes some of its cues in its handling of temporal layers from Conlon Nancarrow’s multi-tempi approach. I was interested in how sheer speed, force, and complex temporal layering opens up new questions like what is gesture without the body? And what is heard when the music transitions beyond the realm of human performability? Musicologist Rolf Inge Godøy proposes that gestural imagery is “our mental capacity for imagining gestures without seeing them or actually carrying them out, meaning that we can recall and re-experience or even invent new gestures through our ‘inner eye’ and inner sense of movement and effort.” (Godøy, 2003, p. 55).

Featured in Keyboard Waves (November 2016).

A sense of space, for flute, guitar, and soprano with percussion.

​The piece is a focus on texture with frequent use of rests and quiet passages that allows the sounds of the performance space to become more present to audience attention. I came across a shredded bamboo wok cleaner at a Chinese supermarket in Haymarket, Sydney. It makes a crispy, crackling sound that I wanted to explore in a musical work. The vocalist with her breathy sounds emulates these qualities in a made up language of whispers.

Featured in Guitar Waves (December 2018).

Memory Tape, for trombone and cello.

The work explores a lexicon of soft textured instrumental sounds taking their cue from the iterations of whispers produced by an empty rotating reel-to-reel tape machine. I focused on composing with microscopic grains of instrumental friction sounds that articulate wavering divisions of time as an orchestration of these tape sound qualities. In the work a sustained pitch is a conceptual ‘ground’ which is revealed to contain myriad microtonal fluctuations and changes in timbral and textural detail. The ways in which I explore this at a micro-level gives rise to a higher order structure in that transformations between the trombonist’s vocalisations and multiphonics, with the ‘cellist’s bowing speed and airiness of tone define a pattern of phrases.

Featured in Waves of Consciousness (February 2019)