The Piano Mill

The Piano Mill is a unique inter arts collaboration that combines architecture, sound sculpture, cultural heritage, music composition and performance. To have a significant building designed and constructed as a musical 'meta- instrument' is incredibly rare. The integration of sonic elements into its design was highly innovative. The collection of 16 pianos housed in the mill, which were sourced from the local area and left in their found states, was also unique, and reflects the colonial history of Australia. While the instrumentation of 16 pianos is already novel, the musical composition itself displayed a number of innovations. Microtonal differences among the pianos were exploited to create a variety of acoustical effects, including phasing, beating and shimmering textures. The use of birdsong is not a new concept for composers, but The Piano Mill’s tower gave the tradition of bird-song inspired music a new twist, by literally placing the musicians in a canopy of eucalypts. In addition, the musical score used an innovative combination of traditional notation, text-based instructions, and detailed schematics to allow for the realization and coordination of this unusual work.

Team members: Erik Griswold, Vanessa Tomlinson, Jocelyn Wolfe, Bruce Wolfe with performers Michael Askill, Brieley Cutting, Louise Denson, Stephen Emmerson, Anna Grinberg, Michael Hannan, Lynette Lancini, Sonya Lifschitz, Therese Milanovic, Steve Newcombe, Alistair Noble, Colin Noble, Cara Tran, Vanessa Tomlinson and Yitzhak Yedid.

What were we thinking? Reflections on three artistic projects from Australia

This project examines the work of four Australian artistic researchers, two of who collaborate on a single project. All authors have worked closely together for over a decade and therefore this piece broadly responds to the European Platform for Artistic Research in Music conference themes as completed and/or well-advanced projects that impact on one's own musical practice, the work of other researchers and lay-audiences.

At the micro level, each author focuses on a standalone project via a short video in order to provide depth of artistic insight and as a mechanism to triangulate informed thinking about our institution's artistic research activity to date.

Team members: Vanessa Tomlinson, Paul Draper, Stephen Emmerson, Andrew Brown.

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Doppelgänger Sweet

This performance is of a series of improvisations by Stephen Emmerson that involved playing with an interactive computer system via two Yamaha Disklaviers. It builds on the research of Professor Andrew Brown who supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant, has been exploring how creativity can be stimulated by such interactive tools.

Each of the ten pieces used a different Pure Data patch developed by Stephen Emmerson from templates designed by Lloyd Barrett. This film version of the performance, recorded in 2015, has been edited creatively by Paul Carasco (from Classical Film and Sound) and Stephen Emmerson to underline visually the fascinating relationship between the human and computer generated sounds. As the titles suggest, the pieces are intended to be playful explorations of the possibilities across various musical styles.

Team members: Stephen Emmerson, Andrew Brown

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YouTube video

Around A Rondo

This project was among the first major projects supported by QCRC in the area of Artistic practice as research. It remains among the most thorough explorations of the processes that underlie the interpretation of western classical music, in this case Stephen Emmerson’s performances of Mozart’s A minor Rondo in 2004. The outcome took the form of two DVDs. The first involved video recordings of multiple performances of the piece, while the second was a non-linear multimedia site that documented the process in great detail and from various points of view. It included analysis and historical performance practice through written reflections and commentary, score examples, audio and video from performances and interviews.

Project leader: Stephen Emmerson

An overview of the project can be viewed in two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

iOrpheus: An iPod Opera 400 Years After Monteverdi

In August 2007, the prominent New York-based composer William Duckworth together with co-artistic director and technology developer Nora Farrell worked on a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant to create a world premiere of iOrpheus: Art Among Us (the iPod Opera). The project re-enacted the story of the mythical musician Orpheus in five acts across different locations in South Bank Parklands, Brisbane, mixing live music of many types with sound installations, percussion, opera and folk singing, dramatic performance and virtual music from downloaded sounds on iPods, iMainGo's and mobile phones.

Team members: William Duckworth, Nora Farrell, Huib Schippers, Paul Draper, Vanessa Tomlinson.

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