Speak Percussion is the Australian percussion ensemble that has re-defined the sounds of percussion music and the potential of percussion. Speak Percussion is internationally recognised as a leader in the fields of experimental and contemporary classical music. Many of its performances are impressive in both visual and musical aspects.
Between 23 and 25 November 2016, Speak Percussion presented the Australian premiere of its 2015 touring project Fluorophone.
“Fluorophone creates a kaleidoscopic sound world in which the central instruments radiate, flicker, glow and burn. Analogue and digital fluorescent lights, the naked flame, strobe lights and custom-built LED discs are combined with percussion to create a program in which the music and lighting design are one and the same. Fluorophone moves between noise, theatrical music and virtuosic instrumentalism, in a synesthetic display of light and sound. Featuring specially commissioned works by a prominent team of leading composers”–Program notes.
Fluorophone features works by Juliana Hodkinson, Simon Loeffler, Eugene Ughetti, and Damien Ricketson.
Lightness by Juliana Hodkinson:
e by Simon Loeffler
Pyrite Gland by Eugene Ughetti
Rendition Clinic by Damien Ricketson
b by Simon Loeffler
For more information on Speak Percussion, visit their website
Tunnel Number Five is one of the underground oil storage tunnels created in Darwin during the World War II. At the depth of 15 meters, the 172 meter-long tunnel is a space of incredible resonance and acoustic qualities.
The Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music is an annual event that brings together professional independent musicians from across Australia to the Northern Territory to provoke the creation of new music in new combinations of artists.
This sonic exhibition presents live recordings of 3 performances from the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music (from the digital album Up from the Deep)
Sarah Hopkins (cello, harmonic whirlies, overtone singing), Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Ernie Gruner (violin), Anja Tait (violin), Netanela Mizrahi (viola)
“Music flows through the length of the tunnel, carrying performers and audience
alike. The spaciousness of Tunnel Number Five becomes a vital member of
the ensemble as Anne walks its length. Ernie, Netanela and Sarah met for the
first time in Tunnel Number Five, and like the ever changing elements of the
sea and sky, this music simply emerged, playful, powerful… magic”
Remember the Joy — Buŋgul
Sarah Hopkins (cello, overtone singing ); Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi (manikay ); Henk Rumbewas , Amanda Rumbewas, Sebastian Guyundula Burarrawanga, Anne Norman, Adrian Gurruwiwi , Netanela Mizrahi (choirchimes); Ernie Gruner, Cathy Dowden, harmonic whirlies.
‘Remember the Joy’ is a piece for cello, overtone singing, choirchimes &
harmonic whirlies composed by Sarah Hopkins in 1994, spontaneously joined
here by Guwanbal. Guwanbal’s song is derived from a small section of a Gälpu
song line, of which he is custodian. Usually sung in buŋgul (ceremonies), this
manikay is about Guwanbal’s totem Wititj, a rainbow serpent. Wititj lives at
the bottom of a waterhole in a place called Dhumara Garrimala belonging to
the Gälpu people. Bubbles rise up from the deep as Wititj sends its power into
the sky, initiating the formation of rainclouds. Thunder is heard a long way off,
then lightning comes and black clouds release their rain. After the rain, Wititj
releases more bubbles, and a rainbow appears.
Ŋurula — Wheeling Seagulls
Whirlies; manikay; shakuhachi; viola; violin; Biak song
Soaring up high, in the clouds, see the gentle dancing rain. Wheeling around
the tiny island of Ganalawurru, the seagulls of the Djambarrpuŋyu clan.
Seagulls roost on the tiny island of Ganalawurru, just off the north coast of
Elcho island. Guwanbal’s manikay of the Gälpu clan is beautifully supported
by the harmonic whirlies of Sarah, occasionally joined by Guyundula, strings,
shakuhachi and Henk’s rich voice singing: Awino oooh! Oh! Mother.
A selection of live recordings from the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music has been released on the digital album & CD Up from the Deep. Listen to all tracks from this album online at BandCamp.
Up from the Deep is a compilation of selected live recordings from five concerts held in a World War II oil storage tunnel under Darwin (Australia) during the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music . This 2016 festival is a special event in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians from various musical paths gathered and made music together in a space deep in their shared land. The acoustic outcome is exquisitely beautiful.
Up From the Deep has 14 tracks featuring eight manikay (clan songs of the Yolngu people people in Northeastern Arnhem Land), two West Papua songs, and four instrumental pieces.
Aboriginal songmen Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi and Sebastian Guyundula Burarrawanga joined Sarah Hopkins (cello, harmonic whirlies, overtone singing), Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Ernie Gruner (violin), Anja Tait (violin), Netanela Mizrahi (viola), and Adrian Gurruwiwi (yidaki) to deliver the manikay. In six of these manikay, the instrumentalists created soundscapes that nurture the voice(s) and the meanings of the songs to enhance their beauty and to bring the musical experience to a deeper level.
A very special and moving moment happened when Guwanbal spontaneously sang a manikay “Look at the cloud formation rising up from Dhumara Garrimala” during the performance of Sarah Hopkins’ 1994 composition Remember the Joy. The pre-composed music and the manikay seem to blend into a magical whole.
The four instrumental pieces offer strikingly contrasting atmospheres. They were masterly created at the moment of performance in the tunnel. While Sea Sky (violin, viola, cello and shakuhachi) and Water Spirits (2 violins and viola) flow effortlessly along the soundscapes of the manikay , Dance! As the World Goes Mad! and Wartime Waltz are lively reminders of the resilience of Darwin during wartime.
Apart from the manikay and instrumental pieces, the earthy and heartfelt songs sung in Biak language (now officially replaced by Bahasa Indonesia in West Papua) performed by Henk Rumbewas added another dimension of sounds to musically enrich this compilation. Henk also briefly added his powerful voice in two of the manikay songs, Wheeling Seagulls and Green Sea Turtle, eliciting an excited response from the instrumentalists and the Yolngu songmen.
Up from the Deep is a special compilation that presents the musical traditions of Australia in a new perspective. Here, the artists met and created music spontaneously in a space deep within our land. Each artist draws from his/her musical experience to contribute to the process of music-making, bringing about magical moments in sound.
You can listen to all tracks of the album Up from the Deep at BandCamp.
Circling Strangers is the debut CD of the improvising string trio Bowlines (Ernie Gruner (violin/viola), Heather Stewart (violin) and Jenny Thomas (viola)). The CD is a live recording of Bowlines’ performance in Brunswick, Victoria on 27th of July, 2014. The music on this CD reveals the magical power of collective improvisation at work. The three improvisers create musical layers that blend, support, or reinforce each other in a variety of ways. Elements of musical traditions such as classical, blues, or klezmer provide the raw materials for the musicians to create new musical entities with depth and feelings.
Bowlines’ music leads listeners through various moods and audio landscapes. The title track of the CD, Circling Strangers (Track 2), shows collective improvisation at its best. Here, the three instruments are perfectly unified into a musical stream that fluidly evolves in a lyrical and dynamic way. Track 3 is a little beauty in which the combination of pizzicatos, spiccatos, brief patterns and long glissandos with walking rhythms seems to depict scenes from a ballet of marionettes. The music of Waiting in Long Empty Space (Track 4) is quite emotional. At times, the strings sound as if they are moaning under the delicate bows. Taking the Mantle Again (Track 8) is characterised by long and lyrical melodies. Sweet Behemoth (Track 9) is fused with energy and is beautifully crafted with layers of tremolos and pizzicatos in varying intensities.
Even though Circling Strangers only contains 35 minutes of music, the CD has much to offer to listeners who love to explore the beauty of spontaneity in improvised music.
Twilight (2013) for laptop orchestra by Ge Wang
performed by Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University, May 2013.
A composition for the laptop orchestra that demonstrates the capability of laptop computers as powerful, sensitive and expressive instruments in a live concert performance.
Notes from the SLOrk’s video:
“Inspired by the classic science-fiction short story “Twilight” by John W. Campbell (published in 1934, under the pseudonym “Don A. Stuart”), this piece ruminates not of the dawn, ascension, nor triumph of the human race, but of one possible demise set seven million years in the future. This end is not one of annihilation through war, nor decimation from famine or disease, but a golden decrescendo of defeat brought on by the gradual, peaceful, but unstoppable usurping of technology and machines — and the loss of man’s curiosity and sense of wonder. From the original text:
“Twilight — the sun has set. The desert out beyond, in its mystic, changing colors. The great, metal city rising straight-walled to the human city above, broken by spires and towers and great trees with scented blossoms. The silvery-rose glow in the paradise of gardens above.”
i. The Dead City
“And all the great city-structure throbbing and humming to the steady gentle beat of perfect, deathless machines built more than three million years before — and never touched since that time by human hands. And they go on. The dead city. The men that have lived, and hoped, and built — and died to leave behind them those little men who can only wonder and look and long for a forgotten kind of companionship. They wander through the vast cities their ancestors built, knowing less of them than the machines themselves.”
ii. A Song of Longing
“And the songs. Those tell the story best, I think. Little, hopeless, wondering men amid vast unknowing, blind machines that started three million years before — and just never knew how to stop. They are dead — and can’t die and be still.”
This is the first installment in the Twilight series for various and mixed media. The cycle explores the psychology, longing, beauty and sadness of a twilight of humanity ending not in a bang, but an irreversible powerdown, basked in the golden, lingering, dying glow of man’s dusk.”
Anne Norman: Shakuhachi
Anja Tait: violin
Emily Sheppard: violin
A collective improvisation recorded underground in the 172-meter-long Tunnel Number Five under Darwin (Australia), and released in the CD Beneath the Surface (2016)
Emily and Anja first met just before the gig when this piece was born. They are both remarkable improvisers. All sorts of things were going on for each of us beneath the surface, and of course for each audience member too. Entering a resonant space deep under a hillside, and opening yourself to fall into the moment, into the sound waves… make way for magic to be born. Music created spontaneously is an expression of things that one is not conscious of, and completely unable to put into words at the time…
Written in 2011 at home in Victoria, Australia to accompany Rain Now and Then, at the end of a very long drought.
Anne Norman: spoken voice
Rain Now and Then
Anne Norman: Shakuhachi
In February 2011, I experienced sheer delight at watching rain gently fall on my thirsty garden… sensations I had forgotten. The rain came and went throughout the day as I played my shakuhachi by the window, jotting down melodic ideas and colours until it was complete.
Recorded underground in the 172-meter-long Tunnel Number Five under Darwin (Australia), and released in the CD Beneath the Surface (2016)