Social Activism Waves (March 2017)

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

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Spotify Waves (February 2017)

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!

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2016 Waves

Thank you for joining us on a second amazing year of Making Waves: listening, enjoying and sharing the newest music of Australian composers and performers.  It’s been such a wonderful journey of discovery each month! This is a credit to the amazing quality and breadth of composing and music-making occurring in the Australian new-music scene, from the undergraduate study level, to some of our most loved mentors.

This year, we’ve been very excited to build on the core Making Waves playlist offering, making a foray into podcast production. A successful Pozible crowdfunding campaign in May 2016, with support from Creative Partnerships Australia,  has led to the Making Conversation: Australian Composers Podcast. Currently in production, we’ve sent a fabulous team of emerging music journalists out to record interviews with composers all over Australia, and some overseas, and the finished series will be launched in the first half of 2017.

Later in the year we released a small line of merchandise – with the plush Making Waves tote bags now for sale in 5 designs. Our most popular bag is also the one dearest to our hearts, featuring the entire list of Australian composers featured in our playlists through 2015-2016.

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We also released the first instalment of our Favourite Things collection: essential resources for serious composers and musicians. By checking out the collection you can also lend your support to our endeavours, and in  particular support the excellent work of our local colleagues at CutCommon and Rehearsal Magazine in releasing some beautiful manuscript and music business resource. Use our promo code: MAKENEWMUSIC to receive your special Making Waves community discount.

We’re really proud of all the new collaborations and conversations we’ve this year in order to share new and hard-to-find compositions and interviews on radio and into podcasts. We hope listeners will find them just as inspiring  as we have! In June we released our first international special edition playlist, Canadian Waves, curated by Elizabeth Knudson, and are thrilled to discover the work of some northern hemisphere counterparts.  Not long after, we invited another guest curator, Leah Barclay, to assemble a playlist based on the Sonic Environments conference in Brisbane in July.  Hats off to you, Leah, this playlist saw the most website traffic out of any during 2016…!

Lisa & Peggy could not have managed all of this without the support of some wonderful Interns:  many, many thanks to Angus Baxter and his successor Marlene Radice for joining us for part of the Making Waves journey.  We absolutely appreciate all your input, ideas and instinct and all the Skype chats!

Now, back to the music: again in 2016, we’re delighted to bring the year’s music together in one marathon playlist for the holiday season, 2016 Waves. This year we share 8 Vimeo videos (c. 1.25 hours), 12 YouTube videos (c. 1.5 hours), and 71 tracks from Soundcloud (c. 9.5 hours), for over 12 hours of music!  Whether you pick through your favourites, catch up on the year of composers, performers and works, or have a binge-listen on shuffle, we hope that you enjoy!

We encourage you to leave your thoughts, most-enjoyed playlists, listening experiences and listening suggestions for others in the comment section below. And if you haven’t already, you can subscribe to our email list, submit your own work, and share the project across your favourite social media channels with anyone you know who might like to open their ears to the new.

Seasons greetings,
Lisa & Peggy
Making Waves

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Duo Waves (December 2016)

In past playlists we’ve had the pleasure of highlighting some of our favourite works for chamber forces, like Solo Waves and Small Ensemble Waves.  In this month’s playlist we’re focusing on the Duo – compositions for two instruments.  This playlist is an hour of intimate “dialogues” between viola & piano, saxophone & percussion, violin & electronics, voice & piano and saxophone & piano. The piano is a notable, trusty accompanist here, a kind of sequel to last month’s Keyboard Waves and we’re excited to see a degree of improvisation in some of the works also. As you listen we hope that you too notice the special character of these musical explorations, as compared to the “conversations” that arise from ensembles of more than two players. Lastly, we took special pleasure in noting that a duet can take place with electronics – check out Giles’ End to Reattain to see what we’re talking about.

We hope you enjoy our final playlist for 2016! If you are loving these playlists and works, don’t forget to let us and our featured composers know. One of our greatest assets is, that our composer family are very much present in this space and appreciate your support. What a great time to be making, performing and listening to new music!

Not sure what to get that special musical person in your life for the festive season? No problem, we’ve got you covered! We encourage you to check out the special new way to support our work here at Making Waves via our These are a few of our Favourite Things page. Not to mention our brand new tote bags and discounts on fabulous manuscript and business e-books!

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Keyboard Waves (November 2016)

Here at Making Waves, we’ve been wanting to collate a “Piano Waves” playlist for over a year now.  This staple instrument attracts so much solo repertoire that it can be hard for performers and listeners to know where to start.  There is of course the burden of tradition, of a solid canon of classical piano repertoire, but also the instrument’s versatility in playing a huge role in jazz and popular musics.  In this month’s playlist we broadened our definition to “Keyboard” to include not only acoustic works, but some amazing tracks in which the piano meets technology: via live electronic manipulation, the use of electric instruments and MIDI, input via audience mobile phones, and even a robotic piano named RHEA.  We’ve also split the playlist into a Soundcloud segment (c.50min) and a YouTube segment (c.20min) in order to include a wide array of works. Listen, enjoy and share!

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Minimalist Waves (October 2016)

This month’s playlist brings together a number of tracks that recall aspects of minimalism and post-minimalism: repetitive grooves, a degree of space, restraint, economy of musical material, long lines, drones and monolithic gestures,  self-similarity and fractals. We love the breadth of  approaches stylistically and thematically within this hour of works. Note the familiar inspiration sources of nature and landscapes in some of these compositions – snow, cities, outdoor scenes – alongside works referencing ideas about communication and thought – dreams, rhetoric, monologue.

We, the Making Waves team, continue to be excited and inspired by the quality and diversity of Australia’s new music scene and hope our enthusiasm is infectious! To learn more about each featured work and composer in this listening-journey we recommend that you click through to each of the featured profile below. Enjoy!

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Long Waves (August 2016)

This month we decided to program a playlist theme that had been brewing behind the scenes for quite a while. Long Waves gives the listener a chance to savour some of the broader, single-movement works that composers have put forward to Making Waves.  We really enjoy how this set of works visit contemplative or evocative themes, some via solo instrument, others for ensemble, with or without voice.  With thanks to Making Waves Intern, Angus Baxter, for his thoughtful curatorial input on the playlist.

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Sonic Environment Waves (July 2016)

This month we’re delighted to have Dr. Leah Barclay, Co-Chair of Sonic Environments, and President of the Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology , guest-curate this playlist: Sonic Environment Waves.  About the playlist, Leah writes:

This playlist features composers who are working in innovative ways with place, environmental sound and new technologies. It has been curated to coincide with the Sonic Environments conference, hosted by the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, July 10-11 2016.

Drawing inspiration from contemporary acoustic ecology, Sonic Environments invites composers, performers, academics, field recordists, acoustic ecologists and technologists to present research and creative works exploring the ecological, social and cultural contexts of our sonic environments. This conference aims to expand our current understandings of acoustic ecology and the role of sound and technology in understanding rapidly changing environments across the world.

This collection of compositions showcases composers experimenting with found sounds, environmental field recordings, mixed media and immersive performance. This playlist traverses the inherently interdisciplinary nature of sound and aims to explore aural awareness in a diversity of sonic environments across the world with composers who are all connected to Australia.

We hope you enjoy this rich and thoughtful selection of works and we thank Leah Barclay for agreeing to curate this playlist.

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Moving Waves (June 2016)

Welcome to our June Playlist, Moving Waves!  In this month’s audiovisual playlist we explore various physical, musical and visual forms of movement as well as ‘moving’ in a more emotional sense. From mesmerising dance-like percussion, to the moving parts of a prepared piano, to dance, to soundtrack for silent film, to Nathalie Latham’s emotive footage of local women in Tamil Nadu in South India accompanied by the music of Iain Grandage, we promise you that this is a musical journey worth exploration. Join us as we showcase exciting, innovative and moving works by seven wonderful Australian composers. Continue reading

Experimental Waves (May 2016)

Cello and answering machine, ukulele miniatures related to a picture book, sampling, remixing and processing, an orchestral soundscape, an ‘oral score’ transmitted verbally from composer to performers in the way that the work’s epic poetry theme would have been;  this month’s playlist is dominated by acoustic and electronic musical interactions with an experimental and highly conceptual spirit.  Some of these works are literary, historical or political, and all of them are highly evocative of the extra-musical world. Let this amazing playlist challenge your preconceived notions of what it means to compose ‘contemporary’ music.

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