Chinese Music in Australia: Victoria, 1850s to mid-1990s

by Wang Zheng Ting
ISBN 0646 343440 (paperback)

Available from the author: Dr. Wang Zheng Ting

Dan Tranh Music of Vietnam: Traditions and Innovations

by Le Tuan Hung
ISBN 0958534306 (hard back)
ISBN 0958534314 (paperback)

This item is Out of Print
A new and expanded edition of this book is currently in progress

Research Papers:

Nguồn Gốc Đàn Tranh Việt Nam [The Origin of the Vietnamese Zither Đàn Tranh](5th edition, 2021)

by Le Tuan Hung
ISBN 9780958534345 (PDF)
Language: Vietnamese

Click here to go to download page

Sound recordings (CDs):

Melodia Nostalgica

Music composed and performed by Dang Kim Hien











Melodia Nostalgica features a selection of original compositions written and performed by Dang Kim Hien between 1982 and 2012. These works present a journey towards broadening musical horizons as the composer left her familiar ground of the Vietnamese tradition to experiment with new possibilities of making music: combining Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese instruments, developing playing techniques, applying new technologies and collaborating with other artists. These compositions are the results of the weaving of colourful threads of Vietnamese musical elements and new sonic materials that the composer has encountered on her creative path.

Listen online and order from the artist: Bandcamp

Jaara Jaara Seasons











Launched in November 2013, Hearing Jaara Jaara is a digital acoustic sanctuary of Jaara Jaara box ironbark woodlands, North Central Victoria, Australia. Created by Sound Artist Ros Bandt with the kind permission of Uncle Brien Nelson, Jaara Jaara elder. Visit the official Hearing Jaara Jaara 2013 website here. This website is a digital sanctuary for listening to country in a box ironbark forest in Central Victoria Australia over the course of a year, 2013. Listening observations are recorded and shared globally here. This habitat is at once a sound lab and poetic inspiration for soundscape composition and public performance. This Jaara Jaara place is 55 acres of land for wildlife country with a checkered history of pastoralism, gold, hobby farm and native bush. Over the past 20 years it has been land for wildlife and left to regenerate free of intrusion with the result of regeneration of the box ironbark habitat. It is a natural sound sanctuary.

Available from the artist: Hearing Places

Fractions of Illumination
Cross-cultural Music by Australian Women Composers
Featuring works by Ros Bandt, Brigid Burke, Dang Kim Hien, Anne Norman, and Catherine Schieve












Disc Contents:

1. From the Venetian Mansion (Ros Bandt, 2005)
Ros Bandt (Tarhu) & Ruth Wilkinson (Viola da gamba)

2. Melodia Nostalgica (Giọt Sầu) (Dang Kim Hien, 2006)
Dang Kim Hien (Dan bau [Vietnamese monochord]) & Kim Le (Piano)

3. On A Quivering String (Dang Kim Hien, 2005)
Dang Kim Hien (Dan bau [Vietnamese monochord])

4-5. Ask Not ~ Fear Not (Anne Norman, 2006)
Anne Norman (Shakuhachi, and power pole bells) & Brigid Burke (Clarinet)

6. Deep Sea Divers (Anne Norman 2006)
Anne Norman (Shakuhachi and pre-recorded materials)

7. Whale Song (Ros Bandt, 2008)
Ros Bandt (Tarhu)

8-9. Tragoudia 1 and 2 (Ros Bandt, 2005)
Ros Bandt (Habiouli (shepherd’s flute), tarhu and soundscape of goat recordings)

10. Air Dance (Brigid Burke, 2006)
Brigid Burke (Clarinet, Javanese gamelan, kendang (drum) and processed electronics)

11-12. Fractions of Illumination 1 and 2 (Brigid Burke, 2005)
Brigid Burke (Clarinet, percussion and processed electronics)
Anne Norman (Shakuhachi, percussion)

13. Attunements (Catherine Schieve, 2006)
Catherine Schieve (shruti boxes from India, balafon from Guinea, West Africa)
Warren Burt (sound preparation, shruti boxes from India)
Installation: Illawarra acoustic spaces, instruments, drawings, Free Music Machine, continuous layered surrounding of environmental sounds, environmental performances, graphic scores, light-controlled synthesizers, non-virtuosic non-western instruments, floor drawing, improvisatory drawings installed in space.

Available from the artists or Sonic Gallery.

Music by Ros Bandt













This is a double CD of Ros Bandt’s evocative music and intoxicating sound creations. It is inspired by and celebrates the Japanese Sea Whistle, the Isobue, an endangered sound of the Ama free divers who live in harmony with the ocean in their sustainable fishing.


Sea Folk Voices is instrumental music for koto, psaltery, flutes, and piano with soundscapes. Shima: 8 sonic haiku for Kumi, radiophonic acoustic poems in English and Japanese. Iso Nageki, Sea Lament, a reflective meditation simulating the underwater sonic world of the divers, and composed originally in 5.1 surround sound. It’s a plea to mind the ocean. Ama no Isobue is a short electroacoustic soundscape. This exquisite music was made on Ros Bandt’s ABC Radiophonic artist’s residency.

CD available from the artist: Hearing Places

Digital album available from BandCamp

The Poems of Rewi Alley
Read by John Britton, musical settings by Warren Burt










The New Zealand born poet Rewi Alley was born on the 2nd of December 1897 in the small town of Springfield, on the South Island of New Zealand. He was named after a legendary Maori chief of great courage, Rewi Maniapoto. He died 90 years later on Dec 27, 1987, in Beijing, the capital of the country in which he had spent the last 60 years of his life. His life is one of the most amazing of the 20th century, encompassing several careers, and enough adventure and dedication to fill several more normal lifetimes. Over his 90 years, he worked as a soldier, an educator, a scholar, a peace activist, an industrial reformer, a farmer and a writer, among other things. After leaving New Zealand to fight in the First World War, he returned home, and spent six hard years unsuccessfully trying to establish a farm in the Taranaki district of the North Island. Then, in 1927, out of curiosity, he visited China, and stayed there for the next 60 years. In China, he first worked as a fireman, then as a safety inspector for factories. This work brought him into contact with the desperate conditions of Chinese workers, and he began to work for the betterment of their conditions. In the mid 1930s, he founded the Chinese Industrial Co-operatives, a workers controlled industrial organization, who made sure that all their factories could be broken down into small units and moved at a moments notice. This portability, and their morale, symbolized by their slogan Gung Ho (work together), made a decisive difference in China’s ability to survive the Japanese onslaught in World War II. During the war, Alley also got involved in education, founding a school that combined industrial and academic work in equal measure, and doing it all on a small, local scale. His work was inspirational to such educational reformers as Ivan Illich. After the war, with some misgivings, Alley supported the Communist government of Mao Zedong and Chou En-Lai – they seemed to him the best option for China to develop as a self-sufficient nation – and throughout the 50s and 60s, worked tirelessly in the international arena to increase understanding between China and the rest of the world. He and his family – his two adopted sons and their children – luckily survived the Cultural Revolution, mainly through the support and intervention of the Premiere, Chou En-Lai, an old friend from the 30s and 40s, and in his last decades, he was honoured in both China and New Zealand for a lifetime of labor in the service of the working people of China.

In the 1930s, Alley began translating Chinese poetry, and shortly thereafter, began writing poetry himself, sometimes basing his English language poetry on Chinese models, and sometimes simply writing discursive, narrative poems. From the mid 1940s until the late 1970s, he produced a number of volumes of poetry. Some of his poems were quite lyrical observations of Chinese village life, while others were angry, forceful polemics, where he scathingly condemned political conditions he disapproved of. Although he allied himself with the Chinese Communist Party from the 1950s on, Alley was nobody’s puppet, and his political poetry, often quite Brechtian, always retains his own idealistic voice. One would say, using the language of the time, that although the Party would claim that the people and the party were one, if push came to shove (and it often did), Alley would side with the people every time.

I had heard of Rewi Alley through my New Zealand composer friends, Philip Dadson and Jack Body, both of whom had done extended musical compositions about him. But my first real contact with his work came in March 2000, when on a trip through New Zealand I stopped at the Rewi Alley memorial in Springfield. I was impressed by what I saw, and heard. By pressing a button, you could hear a recording of an actor reading a part of one of Alley’s early poems. I liked what I heard, made a recording of it, and then used that recording in a small piece that I played later that week in a concert at Canterbury University in Christchurch. Later, in Wellington, with the help of another composer colleague, Alan Wells, I found several volumes of his poetry in a used book shop. Reading these, I was stunned. I immediately took a liking to his poetry, warts and all. Further searches uncovered more volumes of his poetry, and eventually I selected a sequence of 19 poems, ranging from his earliest efforts in the mid-40s, and his lyrical peasant poems of the 50s, through his sternly angry political works of the 60s, and his gently didactic works of the 70s. I wanted my selection to function as a kind of biography, or biographical sampling of Alley’s life, showing both his absolutely contemporary (and right on) desires for a better world, and also his occasional political misjudgements. His condemnation of the Gang of Four, for example, was written well after they fell from power. Although he may have felt this way during their rule, prudence (in the form of a desire for survival) dictated that these thoughts were kept very private until after they were gone. In this sense, Alley may be compared to another 20th century artist who both publicly supported and privately opposed his own Communist government, the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Some of Alley’s poetry has aged very well, and some has not. But I wanted to include a wide spectrum of his work, in order to present a portrait of as many sides of the man as possible. In making musical settings of his poems, I didn’t want to prettify them, nor did I want them to be sung. It seemed to me that they were best heard with a speaking voice, which could articulate the emotions inherent in them. The English-Australian actor John Britton provided me with better readings than I could have ever hoped for, bringing these poems to life in ways that continue to delight me. I took the recordings of his readings, and processed them through a computer program called AudioMulch, made by the Melbourne composer Ross Bencina. AudioMulch contains a device called a comb filter, which enables you to create ringing chords, which follow both the rhythm and the pitches inherent in the speaking voice. Further, you can change these chords in performance, creating progressions of sounds that will follow the incoming voice, creating a kind of ghost harmony that envelops and hangs behind the voice, making a musical accompaniment that seems particularly apt for speech. My settings of the 19 poems progress from elegaic, and traditionally tonal, through to more dark, dissonant and angry microtonal musical worlds before finally returning, at the end, to the placid world of the beginning. I hope that the listener is aware of the harmonies I chose to accompany the poems, and the interplay between the text and my musical choices. I would like to thank Arts Victoria, which funded my work on these poems, Alan Wells and Jack Body for their information about Rewi Alley, and above all, John Britton, for his readings, without which these poem settings would not exist.

The tunings used. Every tuning has particular intervals which have certain emotional connotations. These connotations vary from individual to individual. There is no universal language of tuning and emotion. As a composer, all I can do is trust my own ear, and feelings. The accompaniment of each of the poems in this cycle uses a different equal tempered tuning. These tunings suggested to me certain emotional moods that I felt were relevant to a specific poem. Here is a list of the tunings used in each individual poem. The abbreviation “et” stands for “equal temperament”, the system of dividing an octave into intervals of equal size, which is only one of an infinite number of systems of tuning which exist.

Disc contents:

Dedication – 12 tone et.
Stopover at Chang Ja Yaotse – 31 tone et.
To Make a Machine – 19 tone et.
Kashgar 1957 – 17 tone et.
Santai Morning – 24 tone et.
A Communist Mother – 25 tone et.
The Family Supper – 23 tone et. (MP3 available)
To Li Po – 26 tone et.
Worth Fighting For – 14 tone et.
Defoliants – 13 tone et.
Profit Plus Poison – 18 tone et.
What Legal, What Not – 11 tone et.
HongKew Park Afternoon – 15 tone et.
Old Men New Man – 22 tone et.
The Way Ahead for Youth – 21 tone et.
Beijing Winter Scene – 20 tone et. Divide and Rule – 29 tone et.
On Meeting a Young Reporter – 30 tone et.
The First Eighty Years – 12 tone et.

Listen to 5 tracks from this CD at Sonic Gallery’s Exhibition 3

Available either from the artist Warren Burt, or Sonic Gallery.

On the Wings of a Butterfly : Cross-cultural Music by Australian Composers
Featuring works by Ros Bandt, Brigid Burke, Warren Burt, Le Tuan Hung, Anne Norman, Ria Soemardjo, Deborah Kayser and Dindy Vaughan.

Released by Move Records












Disc contents:

1. Unde (Deborah Kayser and Anne Norman) 6:44
for soprano and shakuhachi

2. On the Wings of a Butterfly (Ros Bandt and Le Tuan Hung) 11:17
for medieval psaltery, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither) and suling (Balinese end-blown flutes)

3. Adrift (Ria Soemardjo and Anne Norman) 6:05
for voice and shakuhachi

4. A Song for Sky Bells (Le Tuan Hung) 9:59
for power pole bells, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither), suling (Balinese end-blown flute), and Oceanian panpipes

5. Pound Bend – Yarra River (Dindy Vaughan) 3:10
for shakuhachi and harpsichord

6. Wimmera River – Lake Hindmarsh (Dindy Vaughan) 5:54
for shakuhachi and harpsichord

7. Grit (Brigid Burke) 8:23
for clarinet vibraphone and Indian drum

Poems of Rewi Alley (Warren Burt)
for voice and computer

8. Dedication 3:11
9. The Family Supper 2:26
10. The Way Ahead for Youth 2:57
11. The First Eighty Years 2:34

Available from the artists, or Sonic Gallery

Scent of Time : Australian Compositions for Asian Instruments and Voices
Featuring compositions by Ros Bandt, Warrent Burt, Dang Kim Hien, Le Tuan Hung, Anne Norman, and Wang Zheng-Ting.

Released by Move Records











An adventurous and fascinating exploration that produces uniquely beguiling soundscapes”
(New Classics UK)

“Cross-cultural music at its best”
(Ron Payne, Music Teacher Magazine)

“Exceptionally interesting and attractive … recommended”
(Peter Larsen, 3MBS FM Libretto)

In the last two decades, the number of Australian composers who created new works for Asian instruments has been growing steadily. The availability of competent performers of Asian instruments in Australia, and positive developments in cultural, social, political and economic engagements between Australia and Asia are the main stimuli for this new trend in Australian composition. The varieties of tone colours, musical gestures and technical possibilities of Asian instruments have enriched the palette of Australian contemporary music. From the Asian perspectives, Australian works have contributed fresh winds of ideas, styles and forms for a number of East and Southeast Asian traditional instruments. While the works for traditional instruments by many contemporary composers in Vietnam, China and Japan tended to be confined or restricted within their own traditional concepts or borrowed concepts from the West, Australian works appear to be extremely diversified in compositional approaches. Perhaps, the lack of an old age musical heritage in Australia has given composers the freedom to explore ideas and break down artificial boundaries of East and West.

This compact disc brings together the works of two groups of Australian composers: (1) those who have reached out to actively engage with Asian music and arts, and (2) Asian artists who have settled in Australia and have continued to preserve their own musical heritage as well as creating new cross-cultural works. Their works exemplify the diversifying compositional approaches of Australian compositions for Asian instruments and voices. Ros Bandt and Dang Kim Hien have collaborated in both improvisatory setting and conceptual development to generate a beautiful meeting of acoustical realms of East and West. Warren Burt used technology to control, craft and construct powerful musical images from Asian raw materials. Anne Norman drew her inspirations from Balinese gamelan music, Japanese shakuhachi tradition and her own experience in improvisation to create a highly original piece for shakuhachi, double bass and found objects. Dang Kim Hien’s and Wang Zheng-Ting’s solo compositions demonstrate conscious efforts to expand the playing techniques and expressive capability of Asian instruments. Le Tuan Hung’s works are poetry-based and show a combination of musical concepts from Vietnam, China and Europe and a careful application of idiomatic gestures of various instruments.

The works of these composers have taken Asian instruments and voices beyond the boundaries of their own traditions to take part in a journey that may result in more and more adventurous sounds in the future.

Disc Contents:

1. We Lose Things
Music by Anne Norman
Performed by Anne Norman (Shakuhachi), Nick Tsiavos (Double bass), and Peter Neville (power pole bells)

2. Inside/Outside
Music composed and performed by Dang Kim Hien and Ros Bandt
Dang Kim Hien: voice, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither), and Vietnamese percussion
Ros Bandt: viola da gamba and renaissance tenor recorder

Inside/Outside is a collaborative journey of the outer and inner worlds of the voice in relation to the instruments (viola da gamba, tenor recorder, dan tranh and Vietnamese percussion). The piece traverses states of calm, agitation, happiness and sadness, and culminates in the symbiosis and reconciliation through the breath of both voice and recorder (Ros Bandt).

Life is nurtured and maintained by cycles of breaths. Each breath conveys and/or conceals various feelings and emotional states. At a certain moment, a breath may carry contradictory feelings such as love and hatre, anger and calm, sadness and happiness. These feelings are flowing within the inner and outer voices. Inside/Outside is a musical exploration of the inner and outer emotional gestures of the voice in an instrumental landscape that transcends the boundaries of East and West (Dang Kim Hien).

3. Shadows of the War Horse
for dan tranh (Vietnamese zither), with wooden sticks and bells
Music composed and performed by Dang Kim Hien

4. Lotus Pond
for dizi (Chinese flute), sheng (Chinese mouth organ), 2 erhu (Chinese 2-stringed fiddles) and woodblock
Music by Le Tuan Hung
Performed by The Australian Chinese Music Ensemble

5. Scent of Time
Music by Le Tuan Hung
Performed by Anne Norman (shakuhachi) and Peter Hagen (harpsichord)

6. Echoes of an Old Festive Song
for dizi (Chinese flute), sheng (Chinese mouth organ), erhu (Chinese 2-stringed fiddle), drum and woodblock
Music by Le Tuan Hung
Performed by The Australian Chinese Music Ensemble

7. Spectre
for sheng (Chinese mouth organ) and tape
Music composed and performed by Wang Zheng-Ting

8. Ethnic Static from Easy Round and Folk Dances
Fake gamelan (Fairlight Computer Music Instrument)
Music by Warren Burt

9. Chinese Whispers
Music by Warren Burt
Voices: Julian Yu and Marian Grey

Available from the artists, or Sonic Gallery.