Article categories: Issue 72
November 27th, 2009

Music is fragmenting. Traditionally isolated musical elements are collapsing:  performance, composition, recording, and sampling are no longer mutually exclusive.

1.	Thembi Soddell performing live at Liquid Architecture in Victoria, 2009. Image courtesy the artist.

1. Thembi Soddell performing live at Liquid Architecture in Victoria, 2009. Image courtesy the artist.

Composers are exploring this process of collapse, and three Victorian sound artists are using stasis as a unifying, formal factor for their compositions and performances. Laptop artist Thembi Soddell, sound designer Camilla Hannan and guitarist Lisa MacKinney have shunned the polyphonic and melodic in favour of attention to textural detail. Despite the diverse styles of these artists, they share an interest in the long sound and the possibilities it offers over the period of a performance, installation or recording.

The concept of melodic and harmonic stasis in music has been investigated by composers in many ways. One example is the drone, a technique where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece of music. Manipulated by modern musicians as far ranging as 1960s American experimentalists La Monte Young and Tony Conrad, to the more recent high volume walls of guitars created by groups such as Sunn 0))), drone is deceptively simple. When exposed to ongoing, static sounds we are more likely to notice small changes to the edges of a piece of music, and even may enter a pseudo trance-like state. In electronically produced music, the drone can be constructed of many layers of sampled, found or constructed sounds using looping and delay techniques. The drone is not only an underlying harmonic device, it can be used texturally to create tension, prolong an ambience and be developed using dynamics. It can be interrupted, replaced, shifted, adjusted and developed.

[For more, read the special Arts of Sound November 2009 Issue of Art Monthly Australia]

Cat Hope
Cat Hope is Coordinator of Composition, Music Technology and Postgraduate Studies in Music at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

Watch More

Lisa McKinney – Mystic Eyes from ANAT on Vimeo.

This content is sourced from the DVD which compliments the November 2009 ‘Arts of Sound’ issue of Art Monthly Australia, guest edited by Douglas Kahn and co-presented by ANAT. This work is covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial Share Alike 2.5 BY-NC-SA licence Note – Please be aware the work may contain flashing and or flickering lights.

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