David Megarrity


David Megarrity is a writer, composer and performer working across theatre and music. He’s written for and played in bands including Friends of the Iguana and The Goodbye Notes, and is currently playing with Warmwaters and Tyrone and Lesley, whose album OPTIMISM was called Ukulele Recording of the Year. He won the 2018 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award for his play The Holidays.

As a composer his work has included songs for other bands including The Pockets and Laique, and soundtracks for installations, theatre, film and television. Senior Lecturer in Drama at QUT, his PhD investigated Composed Theatre. He blogs around music in performance at lifeinthelongtail.

Composer website:  lifeinthelongtail.wordpress.com

Featured Works

Sounds from the Empty City, for ukulele, with 12-string guitar, piano and double bass.
In five tracks: ‘Pavement,’ ‘Lost Property,’ ‘Showing Pluck,’ ‘Shoelaces and Yo-Yo,’ ‘The Busy City.’

These pieces form part of a larger selection which was incorporated into the live and animated (and completely non-verbal) theatre work The Empty City (Brisbane Powerhouse/Metro Arts 2013). Composed and played on ukuleles with treated piano, and other acoustic instruments, augmented with samples: everything from meditative electronica to joyful acoustica. The performance was an adaptation of a picture book by David Megarrity and Jonathon Oxlade, and the adaptation was a finalist in the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award.

Featured in Experimental Waves – May 2016 (1/05/2016)

Concrete & Wire, for Slide guitar, (non-verbal) vocal.

This piece is an early demo for a theatrical production about two dogs at a pound. The show was to be bittersweet and funny and my initial instincts were around the congruence of the howl of a harmonica, the gliss of a bottlenecked string and the mournful blue wail of a lonely dog.

In musical terms I was thinking along the lines of Nick Drake’s Black Eyed Dog (1974) Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee’s partnership (1950-80) as well as Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was the Night, Cold was the Ground (1927) an iconic recording which (as well as being shot into deep space on Voyager’s Golden Record) was a key inspiration for Ry Cooder’s iconic Paris Texas soundtrack. You can’t apply slide to a soundtrack without an awareness of the pervasive influence of this work in the popular imagination. I figure it’s OK to evoke those tropes but not emulate them.

Concrete & Wire 1 is a piece of slide guitar playing in the key of E. it’s got a plaintive, falling feel to it, involving hammering on at the 7th fret,  which pulls a harmonic ‘break’ into the figure,  then glissing down,  like a howl.  I recorded it live into an ipad, with no set tempo and whacked a reverb on it that I liked.  Wondering if this piece could perhaps combine live performance and pre-recorded sound, as an experiment I asked Tom Oliver, one of the actors who was going to be in the show to improvise a vocal over it, suggesting that the performance be somewhere in-between singing and howling.

Featured in Guitar Waves (December 2018).