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Some Musical and Sociological Aspects of Australian Experimental Music : Feature Article : Australian Music Centre

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31 July 2007

Some Musical and Sociological Aspects of Australian


Experimental Music
by Warren Burt

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Image: Ron Nagorcka at CHCMC, Melb


Warren Burt

Experimental music has played a huge role in shaping the history of Australian new music. Warren
Burts comprehensive overview of Australian experimental music from 1963 to 1993 (originally
published in Sounds Australian, No. 37 1993) provides enormous insight into the aesthetics, problems
and political climate of this time. With artists continuously pushing the boundaries of music and sound,
the genre has evolved significantly in the 14 years since Burt wrote this article. Yet practitioners and
the community as a whole still seem to be battling with many of the issues that Burt discusses. And
one cant help notice that the current political climate isnt exactly helping matters

Introduction and definitions


That this article may largely be a litany of names needs no apology. This is the first attempt to survey a
rather large field and, as such, I feel it should be as inclusive and as non-evaluative as possible in order
to point the way for future researchers. Further, since much of the music I will discuss here has
decisively broken with the notational traditions and conventions of Western music, conventions which
imply as much sociologically as they do musically, it becomes doubly urgent that this music becomes
documented as soon as possible. We no longer have the luxury of perusing scores at leisure. Scores, for
the most part, if used at all in this music, form such a minor part of the activity that relying on them for
either documentation or evaluation would be largely erroneous. Audio and video recordings form a
more valuable form of documentation, but even these are subject to vagaries of time, space, and
dislocations of context.
Experimental musicians...are intensely aware of the history and aesthetics of the field...and usually view
their work as a conscious attempt to extend and redefine elements of that tradition.It is important to
define carefully what is meant here by experimental music. Like all definitions, this one is heavily
dependent on context. If I were a young black musician in Harlem in the early 1940s, would harmonies
of the flattened 5th and incredible virtuosity with altered scale passages bebop constitute
experimental music for me? I think they would. If I were to deal with these same materials in Australia
today, could they be experimental? Probably not, but Im waiting to be proved wrong. By looking at
seven ideas of experimental music from different times we can perhaps get a clearer idea of what we
can, and cannot consider as experimental activities.
One of the classic, and earliest, definitions of experimental music is, of course, Cages (Cage 1961). His
idea of music the outcome of which cannot be predicted in advance dates from the early 1950s, and
forms the basis for much experimental music activity up to the present day. Michael Nymans 1975
book Experimental Music, (Nyman 1975) takes a mostly Anglo-American look at the subject, and
defines rather carefully the difference between two areas of activity he calls avant-garde, which he
relates to Boulezs beliefs, and experimental, which he defines in relation to Cageian and post-Cageian
practice. In New York at this time, this same distinction was referred to as the uptown-downtown split,
with uptown denoting composers of the avant-garde and downtown those of a more experimental
bent. To some extent, Nymans distinction still holds, though some of the pastiche and quotational ideas
he described as experimental have since become the basis for the contemporary reactionary neoromantic style. A different tack is taken by Trevor Wishart in his 1985 book, On Sonic Art, (Wishart
1985) where he talks about the difference between scribal, i.e. written musics, and oral musics, which
may or may not use notation, but where notation is not the principal means of realising or preserving the
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work. Wisharts ideas are fascinating and important, and deserve much thought and discussion. Kenneth
Gaburo, in his 1971 The Beauty of Irrelevant Music (Gaburo 1976) is more technical, and inclusive,
when he says experimental music,
explores such phenomena as electronics, lasers, computers, kinetics, perception, notation, biological
feed-back, linguistics, environments, meditation, timbre, acoustical resources, serious communication,
artificial intelligence, sound-touch, awareness, and silence.
Experimental music today to a large extent still works in most of these fields, although not all work in
these fields can be considered experimental. Much new age music, for example, uses electronics,
lasers, computers and environments, but in its attempts at producing a commercially usable, easy to
listen to product, seems to depart significantly from what might be called the experimental attitude. This
questioning, exploratory attitude is summed up by Herbert Brun when he says Were interested in the
music we dont like, yet, (Brun 1986) and is echoed by Chris Mann who says experimental music is
not a problem-solving environment (thats commercial music), but a problem-seeking environment
(Mann 1988). Larry Polansky, in notes to a 1986 concert, gives his idea of one kind of experimental
attitude when he says of his music,
so it is difficult to perform (and perhaps to listen to) because it intentionally avoids anything we might
traditionally associate with notions of drama, entertainment, or even artistic form. Those things which it
does are very important to me for my own evolution, though occasionally I dont understand the results
of my own ideas (Polansky 1987)
However, some experimental music very clearly works with notions of drama, entertainment, of even
artistic form, so Polanskys thoughts can only partially cover the field.
In fact, to define a field which is as wide-ranging and sometimes conceptually anarchic as experimental
music requires a similarly wide-ranging non-exclusive definition. A series of ANDs, if you will. One
might say that experimental music is a combination of leading edge techniques and a certain exploratory
attitude that places a high value on the integrity of the exploration of the idea as a good thing in itself. In
this light, experimental music in 1993 could encompass such areas as Cageian influences and work with
low technology and improvisation and sound poetry and linguistics and new instrumental building and
multimedia and music theatre and work with high technology and community music, among others,
when these activities are done with the aim of finding those musics we dont like, yet, in a problemseeking environment. To write a neo-romantic theatre piece using samplers for performance by
amateurs in a community setting would probably not be an experimental music activity today, not
because all the areas under consideration (neoromanticism, sampling, community music making) have
already been fairly thoroughly explored, but rather because the attitudes of those involved would most
likely be aimed at producing a pleasing product rather than producing problematic new knowledges and
situations to deal with.
The Australian situation has given its experimental music certain characteristics. Three of these are
1. Experimental music in Australia usually sets out to develop its own contexts, as opposed to
working with already established musical contexts, and these new contexts are developed in such
a way as to be appropriate to the ideas embodied in the music.
2. Experimental music in Australia is socially and politically concerned. Experimental musicians
tend to think carefully through implications of their placings of music into certain contexts, and
tend to give their ideology a large role in the shaping of both the music and its environment.
3. Experimental musicians in Australia are intensely aware of the history and aesthetics of the field,
both locally and internationally, and usually view their work as a conscious attempt to extend and
redefine elements of that tradition. It would be highly unlikely to find an experimental composer
in Australia today who would refuse discussion with a rejoinder such as Well, you know, I dont
think much about those things, I just write music.
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Grainger and Melbourne 1963-1972


The earliest musical experimentation by an Australian was probably done by Percy Grainger.
Throughout his life, his work with free music was frankly experimental, a delving into unknown and
at the time, physically impractical, musical techniques. His work with engineer Burnett Cross in the late
40s and 50s probably forms the earliest coherent body of musical experiment undertaken by an
Australian. However, Graingers experiments took place in the USA, mostly in his home in White
Plains, NY, and dissemination of the results of his work in Australia have been extremely slow and
piecemeal, such that composers who have been clearly extending some of the principles of Graingers
work have, until recently, been largely unaware of his activities (Cross 1989).
Perhaps the earliest body of experimental musical work carried out in Australia took place in Melbourne
between 1963-1972 with the activities of the Robert Rooney, Barry McKimm, Syd Clayton trio. The
history of this group is more completely documented by John Whiteoak, in his history of Melbourne
improvisation, and this summary of their activities is based on his work (Whiteoak 1989). In 1963
trumpeter Barry McKimm was a member of the Heinz Mendelson Quartet, a group heavily influenced
by Ornette Colemans free improvisational work. Soon after this, McKimm was joined by Robert
Rooney (piano) and Syd Clayton (bass), and occasionally by Peter Webster on reeds and Barry Quinn
on drums in performances consisting largely of free improvisation. Rooney, a visual artist as well as a
pianist, introduced the group to the ideas of John Cage and also to notions of graphic notation, and in
1964 the group performed his Synops, a graphic score. From 1966 to 1970 the group moved away from
its jazz orientation and into work with large improvising ensembles. In 1969, for example, Jean-Charles
Franois conducted an improvising orchestra in a graphically noted score of McKimms. Syd Claytons
work assumed a more and more theatrical bent, and between 1969 and 1972 he produced fourteen
theatrical works at La Mama theatre in Carlton, many of which showed heavy Cageian influence and
which crossed boundaries between music, theatre, and ritual. Of the members of this group, only
Clayton continues to be involved in experimental musical activities, in work which exhibits a striking
and elegantly minimal approach. The others have gone on to careers in the visual arts, education, or
community music making.
Another notable event in Melbourne in this period was the return of composer, conductor, and pianist
Keith Humble from Paris in 1966. Humble had run an alternative performance space, the Centre de
Musique, in Paris, and brought back many ideas both of an avant-garde and an experimental nature from
Europe. Through his work at Melbourne University, he was responsible for training a number of
Australian composers, and his Society for the Private Performance of New Music at Melbourne
University gave a number of performances of both avant-garde and experimental works (Whiteoak
1989). From 1974 to 1990, Humble was the Head of the Music Department at La Trobe University,
which has continued to be a centre for training of Australian composers, even though in recent years the
department has lost much of the experimental edge it had in its early days. [The music department at La
Trobe University closed at the end of 1999 - Ed.] Humbles own work spans the range from his
Sonatas, expositions of classical avant-garde techniques, to his probing and exploratory work with
electronics and improvisation in the group KIVA, which continues to the present day. Humble, in fact,
disagrees with Nymans avant-garde/ experimental dichotomy, preferring his own belief that a complete
musician should fluently express himself in all of the currently used compositional idioms and modes of
thought. Another member of Kiva is French percussionist Jean-Charles Franois, who was invited by
Humble to join him at Melbourne University, and, from 1969-1972, taught there and was highly
influential in the development of the next generation of experimental composers. As well, a number of
other musicians in Melbourne were active in this period, principally working with electronic music. Four
of these were the late Stephen Dunstan, who, in addition to his work in pop groups, produced
wonderfully eccentric and fantastic sound sculptures using home-made electronics; Dr Val Stephen, a
physician who composed electronic music as a hobby; Bruce Clarke, whose jingle workshop may have
been the first user of musical electronics in Australian commercial music, and who improvised and
performed in Felix Werders sometimes experimental Australia Felix group for a number of years; and
Ian Bonighton, who produced a number of striking works at the Melbourne University studios.
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Sydney 1968-1975
In Sydney, the start of an indigenous interest in experimental music was marked by the return of David
Ahearn, fresh from working with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Cornelius Cardew, in 1969. I am indebted
to Greg Schiemer and Ernie Gallagher for much of the information that follows (Gallagher 1989,
Schiemer 1989).
In 1969, Ahearn approached Joseph Post, then head of the New South Wales Conservatorium, for
permission to set up a series of experimental concerts and workshops under the auspices of the
conservatorium. Extreme resistance from faculty members inside the conservatorium, however, resulted
in Ahearn transferring the series to the Boilermakers Hall, under the auspices of the Workers
Education Association, a Sydney adult education organisation. From 1969-1972, Ahearn was the coordinator of A-Z music, an organisation run along the anarchic lines of Cardews English Scratch
Orchestra. A-Z music gave regular performances, and was a clearing house for many experimental ideas
both within music and across media. Among the members were Ahearn, Robert Irving, Greg Schiemer,
Ernie Gallagher, Peter Evans, Dierdre Evans, Phillip Ryan, Roger Frampton, Geoffrey Barnard,
choreogapher Phillipa Cullen, video artist Ariel, flautist Geoffrey Collins and others. One notable
performance of the group was the world premiere, in 1970, of Paragraph 4 of Cornelius Cardews
magnum opus, The Great Learning. In 1972, Teletopa, a free improvisation quartet derived from the AZ membership, performed at the International Carnival of Experimental Sound (ICES) in London. The
personnel in this group were Ahearn, Collins, Frampton, and P. Evans. At this time, according to
Schiemer, a rift developed between what he called the professional and amateur wings of the group.
This led to its breakup over a two-year period between 1973-75, though, even in this period, the group
continued to be influential, with young composers such as Carl Vine, Cameron Allan and Allan Holley
joining its ranks in 1973, and regular performances of the community-based free-improvisation oriented
Sunday Ensemble occurring throughout this period. By 1975, Ahearns personal problems resulted in
the demise of the group. Ahearn publicly produced little more after this, and died early in 1988.

Melbourne 1972-1980
The scene in Melbourne between 1972-75 was marked by the emergence of several composers who
would continue to play major roles in the emergence and acceptance of experimental music in Australia.
Repelled by the continuous and bitter in-fighting that marked the Melbourne branch of the ISCM
[International Society for Contemporary Music], a number of younger composers and performers
banded together to form the New Music Centre. Instigated by Chris Mann, whose major interest was in
the area between language and music, the early membership included such people as Dan Robinson,
Ron Nagorcka, Peter Mumme, Simon Wettenall, and Jeremy Kellock. The group was to fare no better
than the ISCM in terms of internal placidity. Despite this, it produced weekly concerts over a two-and-ahalf year period in a variety of venues, and managed, briefly, to set up Melbournes first public access
electronic music studio. Also active at this time was NIAGGRA, the New Improvisation Action Group
for Gnostic and Rhythmic Awareness, which was active between 1972-74 and gave a number of
performances mostly at La Mama theatre in Carlton. The personnel of the group consisted of Ian
Wallace, Jeremy Kellock, Simon Wettnal, Bruce Woodcock, Dan Robinson, Steve Martin and
occasionally Chris Mann. Of this group, Wallace, Kellock and Wettenal eventually abandoned
experiment in favour of a bebop virtuosity of the most traditional kind. Woodcock continued along an
experimental path, plagued by health problems, until his death in 1982, while Robinson and Mann
remain as forces within the Australian compositional community. In 1974-5, Nagorcka, Mann,
Wettenal, and Kellock all left Melbourne for various overseas destinations, and both the New Music
Centre and NIAGGRA collapsed. By all accounts, this was a period of high energy and extreme
rancour, and, one day, one of the participants should record its events. One of the more interesting
outcomes of the era was the lessons it taught Ron Nagorcka about ways not to manage an alternative
venue, and these were lessons he put into practice on his return to Australia in 1975 in setting up the
highly successful Clifton Hill Community Music Centre (Althoff 1989).
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In 1975, I arrived in Australia (on the same plane as Ron Nagorcka, who I had met and become good
friends with in the US) to take up a teaching position in the Music Department of La Trobe University.
At the University of California, San Diego, Nagorcka evolved the principles on which he, along with
myself, bass player John Campbell, and others, would found the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre.
The principles on which CHCMC was successfully run were:
1. No money would ever be charged to an audience (thus they couldnt say they hadnt gotten their
moneys worth); no money would ever be paid to composers or performers; no equipment
would be supplied. (In the last few years of the centre this was modified in order to cope with a
nominal rent charge, an admission charge of $1 was requested). Advertising was to be mostly by
word of mouth or by very inexpensively photocopied posters. The removal of economics from the
music equation was viewed to be of supreme importance in setting up a space with a truly
alternative set of values.
2. Access to the space was to be completely open. Anyone who wanted to perform was welcome to.
No restrictions were placed on style or content. All one had to do was phone up the co-ordinator
and a date would be arranged.
3. The centre was to be anarchically run. One person elected, or was elected to be the co-ordinator.
They were responsible for allocating the performance times, opening and closing the building and
allocating the minimal publicity jobs. When one person tired of the co-ordinators job, they passed
it on to another person. In this way, a sense of continuity and adapting to changing needs was
built into the Centre.
...the music critic has ceased to exist as a meaningful entity for the Australian experimental
musician...The Centre ran for seven years, giving five or six seasons of six weekly concerts each year. It
served as a training ground for many younger composers, and as a scene of focus and ferment for much
of the experimental music activity in Melbourne. The co-ordinators of the Centre were, in chronological
order, Ron Nagorcka, myself, David Chesworth, Robert Goodge, and Andrew Preston. A listing of
composers who performed at the Centre would read like a whos who of the younger generation of
Melbourne composers, but out of this list, Ernie Althoff, Graeme Davis, Brophy and Chesworth could
be selected as examples of four very different composers for whose development the Centre proved
crucial. For all of its history, the Centre survived without government funding of any kind. It received its
first grant for operating expenses in 1983, just after it had closed its doors. None of the participants in
the Centre, who felt it had served its purpose and it was now time to move on to other activities, felt that
receiving government funding was any reason to continue the existence of an organisation which had
run its course, and the money was returned. This is perhaps an example which many other organisations
in Australia could take to heart.
The period 1975-80 was a very active one in the Australian arts in general, and the Melbourne
experimental music scene was filled with an extremely diverse range of activities. Although CHCMC
was, in a very real sense, one centre of activity, it was only one of a number of venues. In early 1976,
Barry Conyngham, Nagorcka, myself, Les Craythorn, Jim Sosnin, and John McCaughey produced the
Gardens and Galleries international electronic music festival, a two-week event at the Why Not theatre
and the Students Church, Carlton. Electronic and computer music continue, to the present, to be major
areas of activity at both Melbourne and La Trobe Universities. In 1977, LIG, the La Trobe
Improvisation Group, evolved out of music department improvisation workshops, and in 1978 the group
evolved into LIME, Live Improvised Music Events, whose membership included Ros Bandt, Nicholas
Tolhurst, Julie Doyle, Gavan McCarthy, and Carolyn Robb. LIMEs orientation was mostly minimalist,
with occasional forays into theatre. Over ten years it gave a large number of performances both in
Australia and overseas, and recorded several albums for the RASH and MOVE labels.
In 1977 John Campbell founded the New and Experimental Music Show on Community Radio Station
3CR. At the time, one of increasing Australian nationalism, 3CR had a policy of 50% Australian music
content. Most Melbourne composers of new music of whatever persuasion (avant-garde, experimental,
crossover pop, etc.) were broadcast on the show. This helped establish a higher public profile for new
music in general, and helped to legitimise the activity of experimental musicians by placing their work
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within the broader context of new music activity.


A series of live radio forums were organised for the ABC at the Waverley Theatre, East Malvern, by
Felix Werder. These featured performances by a group of musicians that later evolved into Werders
own group, Australia Felix, a group which experimented with graphic notation, improvisation, and an
often misunderstood radical reinterpreting of the role of the traditional score. Werder, like his
generational colleagues Humble, Tristram Cary and James Penberthy, never really fully embraced the
experimental aesthetic, but felt free to move in and out of it as his needs demanded. The full history of
this remarkable musician, whose career has spanned most of the styles of the late 20th century, has yet
to be written. Like Humble, Cary and Penberthy, he aint dead yet, and we can be sure of continuing
evolution from these four composers, the only four senior Australian composers who have consistently
maintained elements of an experimental outlook throughout every stage of their careers.
La Mama also remained a centre for new music performances in the late 70s. New music performances
were given there by Chris Mann and myself (Syntactic Switches 1977); electronics and percussion
performances by David Tolley, Dure Dara and friends; and multimedia events by Chris Knowles, James
Calyden and David Wadelton; among others.
At the Victorian College of the Arts, British migrant Richard David Hames ran the Victorian Time
Machine, a student-based new music ensemble which gave performances of many experimental works,
and his work and the work of James Fulkerson, an American trombonist/composer, who was a frequent
guest at the College, greatly influenced a number of younger composers, such as Sarah Hopkins, Les
Gilbert and Herbert Jercher.
Some of the flavour of this era can be gained by looking at the three issues of the New Music
Newspaper, (Burt & Gilbert 1977-78), a publication put out by Les Gilbert and myself in 1977-78
funded at first by La Trobe, and later by Melbourne University. A breezy, chatty publication, its aims
were, again, to cover the new music scene across the board, exposing the variety of activity occurring
with as little stylistic bias as possible. Of greatest value to the historian are the lists of events in each
issue, which provide many details as to names of performers, venues and pieces performed.

Other senior figures and radio


Mention was made earlier of Adelaide composer Tristram Cary, a British migrant to Australia in the
early 70s. Cary, even more than Humble or Werder, is the senior Australian composer who has been
most consistently involved with experimental ideas and techniques for most of his life. One of the
pioneers of electronic music from the 1940s up until the present day, his work has spanned the gamut
from work with closed groove phonograph loops and test oscillators in the 40s, up to working with
mainframe and personal computer systems in the 1980s. As well, a number of his instrumental works
result from experimental methods. A notable example of this is his orchestral work Contour and
Densities at First Hill, which is based on tracing salient elements of photographs of the landscape of the
Flinders Ranges onto score paper, and then orchestrating the results.
The computer work of James Penberthy must also be mentioned here. Penberthys experiments with
computer assisted composition in the late 60s and early 70s mark the first use of computers in
Australian composition. Penberthys work, like Werders, deserves a study of its own.
During this period as well, experimental music began to make its first significant impact on national
Australian radio with the setting up of the nationwide ABC-FM network. In its first years of operation,
ABC-FM was incredibly adventurous. One of the leaders of this spirit of adventure was Andrew
McLennan, whose weekly show, 360 Shift, not only gave wide exposure to overseas experimental
music, but also commissioned works from a number of Australians as well. Soon after its opening,
ABC-FM became much more conservative, but producers such as McLennan, Jaroslav Kovaricek, and
others, fought an heroic battle against stiff management opposition, usually with some degree of success,
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in keeping experimental drama, music and radio work very much alive on Australian radio.

Sydney 1975-80
Much of the energy, and many of the new developments in Australian music seem to be the result of
migrant musicians, or of Australians returning home after extended periods overseas. In this regard, the
activities in Sydney in this period are no exception. The arrival in Sydney of American composer Bill
Fontana in 1976 marks just such a turning point. Fontana, at the time married to Australian
choreographer Nannette Hassall, plunged into his new life in Sydney with incredible energy, organising
events and stimulating performance of all kinds. In late 1976, for five months, he ran a Sunday
afternoon performance series at the Recording Hall of the Sydney Opera House. Music, dance,
performance art events all took place on this series, with both local and interstate performers. After the
series proved too adventurous for the Opera House management, it was moved for a while to the
Institute of Contemporary Art, at 1 Central Street, a private gallery run by Paul McGillick. Fontanas
Small Spiral, for Japanese rin gongs, was premiered during this series of events, as was my own music
theatre piece, Stalin, for reader and three cassette recorders, as well as works by Greg Schiemer and a
number of other composers. As well, the Central Street Gallery played host to a number of international
performers, among them John Cage. Fontanas work included a number of sound sculpture installations
in most of the Australian State Galleries, and a number of live and taped radio events. It is largely due to
his efforts, in fact, that sound sculpture has the profile it does in Australia today. By the time of his
leaving Australia in 1979-80, his activities had very thoroughly planted conceptual art based thinking
into the centre of the Australian experimental tradition.
Other composers were also very active in Sydney at this time. Rising from the ashes of A-Z, Greg
Schiemer emerged as an organiser of events of great vision and energy (Schiemer 1977 and 1989). His
Ashes of Sydney Festival, in 1977, was an afternoon and evening long event that took place on a ferry
boat and at selected locations all around Sydney Harbour. The mix of events included folk and
experimental musics, dance, performance art, magic, and various other environmental events.
Schiemers own description of the event in the New Music Newspaper shows very clearly the sprit of
diversity and just plain fun that marked the event. Again, the event was put on without funding of any
sort. Schiemer has continued to be a central figure in the Sydney music scene to the present.
Another figure who has been central to Sydney music is Martin Wesley-Smith. His work, frequently
with Ian Fredericks, in the group WATT, has provided an ongoing focus for their own and others work
in electronics and multimedia. Of special interest are the environmental events Wesley-Smith staged
with sculptor/film-maker George Gittoes at Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park. WesleySmiths work has not always been experimental. A large part of his work consists of very traditional
musical theatre, but it is his experimental work, along with his teaching at the New South Wales
Conservatorium (where Schiemer also teaches) that has probably had the biggest impact on the Sydney
scene.
Another migrant who had an enormous impact, first in Sydney, then later in all of Australia, was British
violinist, improviser, composer and instrument builder Jon Rose. Roses indefatigable energy established
free improvisation as a major component of Australian experimental music. His enormous impact on the
scene is as great, if not greater than Fontanas. Over a ten year period (1977-86), he organised numerous
performances, several national and international tours with both local and overseas musicians as part of
his Relative Band, founded and kept going Fringe Benefit Recordings (now defunct), whose catalogue
forms an invaluable document of Australian improvisation in those years, and gave encouragement to
many younger Australian musicians. Worn down by economic pressures, and a consistent lack of what
he regarded as adequate response to his efforts, Rose left Australia for Holland in 1986, where the
economic climate and the level of artistic feedback were more conducive for him.
Also of note in this period are the early activities of Flederman, a group founded by Carl Vine and
trombonist, composer and improviser Simone de Haan. The early Flederman events always had a very
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careful mix of avant-garde virtuosity and experimental performance but they evolved into a mainstream
avant-garde virtuoso group until their disbanding in the late 80s (De Haan 1989).

Experimental music activities since 1980


By 1980, experimental music was firmly entrenched as a major part of Australian composition. In the
period from 1980-85, activity was so widespread and consistent that a city by city approach would
prove fruitless. Indeed, experimental music had left its Melbourne/Sydney origins and now was
occurring in every capital city, and a number of country centres. Despite the lack of official support,
experimentalism, as a musical way of life, had established itself.
In Melbourne, the evolution of CHCMC continued. Leading figures in this period were Brophy,
Chesworth, Preston and film critic Adrian Martin. Under Brophys and Chesworth's leadership, the
magazine New Music (Brophy & Chesworth 1980-82) attempted to extend the principles of CHCMC to
the print media.
The magazines form an indispensable document of the period, with a number of Melbourne writers and
composers joining in Brophys have a go attitude, to produce a variety of kinds of dialogue.
Two events in the early 80s were indicative of experimental musics increasing recognition by the
mainstream Australian musical establishment. These were the 1981 Victorian Ministry of the Arts
sponsored International Music and Technology Conference, held at Melbourne University, with
auxiliary events at the Victorian College of the Arts and CHCMC, and the 1983 Paris Autumn Festival,
which featured performances by nine Australian composers. The IMIC had many performances, papers
and presentations, but the events which had the greatest impact were the experimental ones. Sound
sculptures by Stephen Dunstan, Dan Senn, myself, Ros Bandt and Les Gilbert; performances of Love is
a Beautiful Song by Graham Davis and Ernie Althoff; Way Back Beyond by Herbert Jercher; Seven
Rare Dreamings by Ron Nagorcka and Ernie Althoff; and Snodger Lip Lap by Chris Mann and myself
proved to be the most memorable events of the conference and served notice to the musical
establishment that here was a new generation of composers with a unique and forceful identity.
Recognition of the achievements of this group was made internationally by the Paris Autumn Festival in
1983, when, at the invitation of Festival Organiser Josephine Markovits, a crew consisting of Chris
Mann, Ron Nagorcka, David Chesworth, Ros Bandt, Sarah Hopkins, Leigh Hobba (an Adelaide-based
composer now living in Hobart, known for the elegance of his environmentally based works), Jon Rose,
Martin Wesley-Smith and myself travelled to Paris and performed at the Centre Pompidou, and later, in
smaller groups, in a number of other locations in Europe and America. In addition, Philip Brophys
work was included in the multimedia section of the visual arts component of the Festival.
This was also a time of increased presence for experimental music on radio. In Sydney, Alessio
Cavallaro and Rik Rue produced major experimental radio performance series for 2SER and 2MBS.
Cavallaros cntmprr ydtns series provided a major forum for live radio work, and the publication of
tapes of these programs, in the sets Men of Ridiculous Patience and Lunkhod, served to distribute the
work around Australia and internationally.
Perhaps the major effort in commissioning original works for radio in this period came from the Public
Broadcasting Association of Australias 1983 Composing for Radio and 1986 Hear/Now series.
Instigated by me, these series involved commissioning original works for radio from fourteen composers
or groups, eight in 1983, and six in 86. Funded by the Music Board of the Australia Council and
produced in 83 by myself and Simon Britton, and in 86 by Britton alone, the series resulted in new
works by Vineta Lagzdina, Les Gilbert, tsk, tsk, tsk (Philip Brophy 1980-82), IDA (Nagorcka, Althoff
and Davis), Ros Bandt, David Chesworth, visual artist Aleks Danko and myself in 1983; and Elwyn
Dennis, Rainer Linz, Sue Blakey, Peter Mumme, Alistair Riddell, and Herbert Jercher in 1986. These
works were then broadcast Australia-wide on the PBAA network of stations.
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Experimental music will continue to remain peculiarly resistant to absorption by the musical
establishment.Also of great importance during this period was the founding of NMA Publications by
Rainer Linz and Richard Vella. Vellas later very important work in experimental music theatre took
him to Sydney, where he became a major influence, leaving Linz to be the prime mover behind the
organisation which has become the major source for writing and recordings of Australian experimental
music. The journal, NMA (New Music Articles) (Linz 1981), the NMA tapes label, and occasional other
publishing, such as Chris Manns The Rationales and John Jenkinss definitive book 22 Contemporary
Australian Composers (Jenkins 1988) has made Linz and NMA an indispensable part of Australian
contemporary music.
Experimental music is (musically) in a very healthy state. The amount of activity happening across the
country is too much for any one individual to track. Some small funding opportunities have also
emerged, and, more and more, the music seems to be finding recognition and a series of small places in
society. The following is a brief mentioning of some recent pieces I regard as among the most significant
results of the current work.
Some of the most interesting ideas have been presented in recent creative uses of radio. Among these
might be mentioned Chris Manns The Blue Moon Project. Blue Moon involved soliciting over 100
versions of that hoary old standard from pop, folk, amateur, art, and experimental musicians and then
having them broadcast, one each day, at the same time each morning, on the light entertainment channel
of the ABC. The project provided a framework for a day by day comparison of musical evolution that
was quite hilarious, surreal and bizarre by turns. It also played quite outrageously with the idea of radio
formats and upset not a few people in radio management with its frequent violations of their sacred
ideas of radio entertainment.
Time and time again, during this period, the ABC proved itself malleable to new ideas, if problematic in
their implementation, realisation and continuity. Currently the ABC is once again encouraging
experimental work. Producers such as McLennan, John Crawford, Paul Petran, Stephen Snelleman and
Roz Cheney are commissioning and producing a number of extremely interesting and innovative radio
compositions, such as the 1989 Prix Italia winner, Jim Denleys Collaborations.
Another extremely creative use of radio as a performance medium was the Concert on Bicycles staged
by Greg Schiemer in Canberra in 1983. A concert of monophonic electric tape pieces was prepared for
broadcast on Canberra community station 2XX. This was broadcast on a pleasant afternoon, while
members of the public were invited to join in a bicycle ride around Lake Burley Griffin, each carrying a
transistor radio on their bicycle. The phase shiftings and multiple doppler effects that resulted from the
many single mobile sound sources, which were heard differently by every single participant in the event,
whether mobile or stationary, formed an essential part of the music.
Rainer Linzs PBAA commissioned radio piece The Opera Crossed Purposes, was also one of the
major works produced during this period. He wrote it in the form of a documentary radio program,
where the announcer described the action of an opera with a revolutionary political libretto and played
examples from it. The difference here was that the opera did not really exist except as this radio
show. All the arias were elegant fakes, made by having two singer friends improvise in operatic style
with found opera texts to tape loops taken from the existing orchestral repertoire. That this form of
artistic production is indeed as real as any other is not to be denied, but what is charming about Linzs
piece is the way it challenges the conventions of operatic thinking, singing, writing and presentation.
Central to experimental musical thinking has been the search for new vehicles of presentation for this
music. New ways of musical thinking demand new instruments, new modes of presentation. Composers
were extremely active in the field of instrument building during this time, and Issue 9 of the Australian
Music Centre Journal had a large article by me surveying the field as of 1985 (Burt 1985). Described in
the article were the music machines of Ernie Althoff, percussive devices activated by turntables; the
Alemba, a set of tuned bass triangles made by Moya Henderson; Colin Offords gigantic mouth bows;
Ros Bandts clay and glass instruments; Herbert Jerchers educational sound sculptures; Greg
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Schiemers Tupperware Gamelan, community electronic instruments; Sarah Hopkinss work with cut
tube Whirlies (Hopkins 1990); Rodney Berrys work with electronically resonated tube instruments; Jon
Roses many fantastic violin and cello like instruments; and my own work with constructing oversize
tuning forks and semi-intelligent electronic performing instruments. Of the work that continues in this
field, two current examples might be mentioned which continue, almost directly, the line of investigation
begun by Percy Grainger in the early 50s; Rodney Berrys Percys Laundry Organ and Ernie Althoffs
Bamboo Orchestra. Berrys sculpture involves a washing machine, homemade organ pipes, a vacuum
cleaner, and the wringer of the washing machine used as a drive for a thick sheet rubber loop used as a
player piano type roll. The washing machine is partially filled with water, such that the ends of the organ
pipes are submerged. When placed into operation, the vacuum cleaner provides air for the pipes, which
are activated by the rotating rubber roll, and the sloshing of the water in the machine tunes the pipes,
providing the gliding tones Grainger was so fond of. A wonderfully madcap contraption, Berrys
sculpture provides a loving and smiling tribute to Graingers work. The elegance and timbral refinement
of Althoffs Bamboo Orchestra brings a new level of sophistication to musical sculpture in Australia.
The form the sculptures take is similar to Althoffs other turntable and cassette recorder driven designs,
but the choice of using only one sounding material, bamboo, and the numerous clever and sophisticated
ways this material is used, place this work of Althoffs clearly into the front rank of musical sculpture,
worldwide.
Just as not all experimental music does not involve electronics, so, too, not all electronic music is
experimental. Among those composers whose recent work with electronics does partake, to a greater or
lesser degree, of an experimental aesthetic, are Rik Rue, who has emerged as a major force in the
Sydney compositional scene over the past few years; sculptor, environmental activist and composer
Elwyn Dennis; Schiemer, whose work with interactive computer-based performance devices continues;
David Worrall, who is investigating the applications of fractal mathematics and chaos to computer
music, and whose Dome Project is providing a portable unique performing environment for
electroacoustic music and multimedia; Ian Fredericks, Martin Wesley-Smith and Graeme Gerrard, who
are all investigating high-end synthesis on personal computers; Alastair Riddell, whose work with
algorithmic composition and computer controlled pianos is clearly among the most interesting work
being done in Australia today; Ernie Althoff and Rainer Linz, who continue to produce elegant work
using very low budget technology; and my own electronic work, which explores interesting nether
grounds between algorithmic composing, interactive processes, improvisation, timbral and polyrhythmic
investigation and good-natured bad taste. My 84-minute long Samples III for Computer Processed
Orchestral Sounds which I write about in NMA number 6 (Burt 1989), is a good example of recent
Australian work involving electronics.
Recent efforts in music theatre worth mentioning are Brothers, a play and music by Syd Clayton, which
continues Claytons extremely refined and minimalistic theatrical work of the early 70s; the many
theatrical productions of Richard Vella; David Chesworths video opera, Insatiable, made up almost
completely of musical found objects; the theatrical presentations of the Pipeline ensemble, founded by
Simone de Haan, which became an extremely important part of contemporary music making in
Australia in the 1987-89 seasons; the dance/music presentation Skysong by composers Sarah Hopkins
and Alan Lamb, choreographer Beth Shelton, and dancer Ian Ferguson; Dialogue of the Angels, a
dance/music collaboration between composer Caroline Wilkins and choreographer Susie Fraser; and the
1988 Arena theatre production of The Rainbow Warrior which featured music and dance collaborations
between Andre Greenwell and Darrell Pellizzer.
Environmental musical interaction is, of course, one major field of experimental music, and some of the
more interesting efforts in this field have been Leigh Hobbas video compositions of Tasmanian rivers;
Les Gilberts installations of environmental sounds and images; Alan Lambs continuing investigations
of aeolian music produced using very long wires; Syd Claytons nine-hour keyboard composition,
Lucky Number (a gradual deceleration to one short note every three minutes and back again, where the
notes become ripples spreading through the environmental sounds) performed in February 88 at the
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art Melbourne; Ros Bandts Aeolian Harps project for the Red
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Cliffs, Victorian community; Ron Nagorckas recent elegant tape compositions using environmental
sounds, Lovregana and Soundscapes from Wilderness; my own Responses and Compressions, a radio
work commissioned by the ABC involving members of Pipeline interacting with various environments;
and the collaborative radio Bicentennial-commissioned radio soundscape Words and Sounds in the
Australian Landscape composed by Les Gilbert, Walter Billeter, Kris Hemensley, Chris Mann and
myself.
Chris Manns recent works in compositional linguistics are an extremely important contribution to world
contemporary music. His 1988 of course is a major work, a merciless harangue of the bankruptcy of
contemporary business ideology, set electronically by him and myself. Two other figures who continue
to make unique and powerful voice-based poetic musics are Jas H. Duke and Amanda Stewart. Duke,
in his early 50s, is one of Australias major poets, and his sound poetry performances form a direct
historical link with the Dada performances of Kurt Schwitters and Raoul Hausmann. Stewart, in her
early 30s, has refined performance poetry techniques to a point of musical refinement equalled by few.
Improvisation continues to form a major part of experimental music in Australia. Some of the leading
practitioners of this art are Jim Denley and Rik Rue, both individually and as part of the group
Mind/Body/Split in Sydney; vocalist, composer, and improviser Josephine Truman; Colin Offord,
whose folk-based improvisations on unique instruments have great charm; the work of the Evos music
group in Perth, including composer/improvisers Ross Bolleter, Nathan Crotty and Tos Mahoney; and, in
Melbourne, a number of groups of younger performers, such as the Melbourne Improvisers Association,
GongHouse, and the Shrieking Divas are trying out a variety of improvisational practices in a number of
different venues.
Interactivity is a term very much in vogue in arts criticism these days. Two recent Australian
experimental music projects which exemplified this were Fair Exchanges-Hear the Dance-See the
Music, a five-way collaborative music-dance project involving composers Ros Bandt and myself, and
choreographers Sylvia Staehli, Jane Refshauge and Shona Innes, using inventor Simon Veitchs 3DIS
video-to-MIDI interface (Burt 1990); and the performances at the 1989 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz,
Austria, which featured specially commissioned interactive works from Rik Rue, Jim Denley, Amanda
Stewart, electronic sculptor Joan Brassil, Chris Mann, David Chesworth, Les Gilbert, Alan Lamb, Ross
Bolleter and myself (Bechtloff, ed. 1989).
In Melbourne, currently, the three leading arenas for the presentation of experimental music are the
Linden concerts, presented at the Linden Gallery, the St Kilda City Arts Centre, by Brigid Burke and
myself; the concerts of the Melbourne Improvisers Association, which has evolved into one of the major
presenters of improvised music in the country; and the events of the Australian Computer Music
Association, led, until 1992, by Graeme Gerrard. In Sydney, two events of note are the founding of the
Tall Poppies CD label by Belinda Webster, which has featured experimental work by Roger Frampton,
Roger Dean, Jim Denley and others; and the activities of the group Machine for Making Sense, with
Chris Mann and Amanda Stewart, voices, Jim Denley, winds, Stevie Wishart, strings, and Rik Rue,
electronics. In Perth, the Evos group has evolved to become one of the major presenters of new music in
the country, presenting a wide-ranging program of concerts and events. A higher public profile for
experimental music has been recently given in a number of festivals of experimental art, such as the
1991 Sounds Culture festival in Sydney, the 1992 Third International Symposium on Electronic Art
(TISEA), Sydney; and the 1990 and 1992 Experimenta festivals in Melbourne, sponsored by the
Modern Image Makers Association. Internationally, Australian experimental music was represented by
The White Room a ten-day-long installation at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, as part of the
1992 ISCM World Music Days. This installation was by Vineta Lagzdina, Ros Bandt, Ernie Althoff,
Alan Lamb and myself. Finally, we note with sadness the death of Melbourne sound poet and
improviser Jas H. Duke, in 1992, one of the truly outstanding voices in contemporary Australian sound
arts.

Conclusions
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In all of this activity spanning a quarter of a century, one notices several things. First, there is always a
sense of do-it-yourself about the music and the composers. There is also a sense of being outsiders to
the musical establishment. Of all the wings of the Australian establishment and media, only radio seems
to have recognised the continuing existence of the experimental side of Australian composition and
consistently supported it. Most of the music has also been done, until recently, on either no, or a very
restricted, budget. This has profoundly affected its aesthetic. In addition to fostering an ethic of
affordability in the material used to make the music, it has also fostered an identification with the
problems of poverty in the composers. The experimental aesthetic in Australia has evolved a position
where, largely, its composers feel the music should be democratically available to both poor and rich
alike. The idea of a new music concert as an $18 a ticket middle class amusement would be repellent to
most of the composers included in this survey. The sense of being outsiders is also fostered by those
institutions which have been receptive to the music. Since the time of Rooney, McKimm and Clayton,
visual arts institutions have generally been more receptive to experimental music than have musical
institutions, although this acceptance has generally occurred when having sound events in galleries
suited the purposes and fashion consciousness of the current curators. More than once, a change of
curatorial interest has meant the exclusion of one group of composers or another from gallery
performances. These outsider conditions have fostered a social and sometimes overtly political
conception of musicians and their role and an analysis of how social conditions affect ones role and
how one reacts to those conditions. For experimental musicians here, the question has not been how
does one fit oneself to the existing institutions, but rather, how does one try to change the institutions to
fit ones needs, or even, how does one make ones own institution?
This, despite the sustained high level of activity, also highlights many of the difficulties currently faced
by Australian experimental music. It is largely ignored by the press. Faced with a lack of any critic in
Australia who has both an understanding and a sympathy with the aesthetic, the music critic has ceased
to exist, by and large, as a meaningful entity for the Australian experimental musician. The same can
also be said of the musicological community. Nearly all the historical writings on Australian
experimental music are by the composers themselves, or by sympathetic non-musicians, such as John
Jenkins. The efforts of Australian musicology are largely irrelevant to the concerns or the issues raised
by their experimental colleagues. The commissioning policies of the various incarnations of the
Australia Council have consistently shown themselves uncomprehending of the nature of musical
experiment. What assistance there has been has largely had to be obtained by showing how the music
conformed to the Gebrauchsmusik ethic of the various and changing commissioning policies.
Promotional bodies, such as Sounds Australian (formerly the Australian Music Centre) have often been
bewildered as to how to promote this music, which often does not produce the hard copy of scores and
hi-fi recordings they are best equipped to deal with. Experimental musics proposing that each piece
proposes its own context and its own modes of judgement has largely been misunderstood, when not
rejected outright, by the gatekeepers of the musical bureaucracy. Then too, the attrition rate among
experimental musicians has been enormously high. This is perhaps understandable when one considers
that Australian society is extremely conformist and materialist. Producing a non-conformist music for
very little material gain in such a society has often been too difficult a task for those initially attracted to
it.
One should not be overly pessimistic, however. The situation, at least in some cases, is slowly
improving. Whether these improvements are permanent or temporary remains to be seen. In summary, I
would like to make four speculations on the future of Australian experimental music.
1. I believe that experimental music today is the leading edge of Australian musical thinking, and
will probably remain in that position for a number of years. It pushes ideas, both new and old,
farther and examines the social implications of musical acts in a way that other groups of
Australian composers are just not willing or able to do.
2. Experimental music will continue to remain peculiarly resistant to absorption by the musical
establishment. Quite simply, if one makes work which questions the viability of an institution,
usually that institution will be little inclined to show the work. And this lack of absorbability may
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be one of the musics strong points. A recent cautionary tale might be the decline of the
adventurousness in the New York postmodern dance scene which occurred in almost direct
relation to the absorption of the work by the American and European dance establishments.
3. Paradoxically, much experimental music has become, and will continue to be a bit of a popular
artform. Consider the extremely experimental work presented on the popular ABC-FM Andrew
McLennan/Roz Cheney produced Listening Room program, or the approximately eight million
visitors who participated in assembling my computer-music interactive sound sculpture in the
Sensus technological playground at Expo 88 in Brisbane, or the many composers in the
community projects that have involved experimental composers such as Herbert Jercher, Ros
Bandt and Sarah Hopkins as cases in point. This mode of public interaction may indeed prove to
be a more fruitful avenue for exploration than the established musical institutions, which are
yearly becoming less and less relevant to the needs of the society around them.
4. However, the very nature of musical experiment will mean that it will always, to some degree,
remain an outsiders music. Consider the careers of the four composers over the age of 60
discussed in this paper, Keith Humble, Felix Werder, Tristram Cary, and James Penberthy. They
remain the four senior composers in Australia whose work has been least absorbed in the current
bout of Australian nationalism, and this lack of absorption has been in direct proportion to their
involvements in experimental thinking. Other factors can also account for this, of course, but the
linking of working with experimental ideas and a lack of establishment acceptance, even for
composers such as these, is strikingly clear.
The recent rise of various conservative styles and performing groups shows very clearly that there are
still plenty of composers who are willing to not challenge sociologies of musical behaviour and continue
the line of conservative academic 20th century musics. But Australian experimental music continues to
develop its own identity more politicised than its North American counterpart, and less accepted as a
part of a fringe than in Europe. A concept of historical parallelism is developing in Western classical
music, of which experimental music is forming both one of the branch streams and one of the major
sources.

References
Althoff, E. 1989, The Clifton Hill Community Music Centre: 1976-1983 New Music Articles, vol. 7
pp. 39-43.
Bechtloff, D. (ed.) 1989, Kunstforum International 103 which contains articles by Warren Burt,
Andrew McLennan, Amanda Stewart, David Chesworth, Heidi Grundmann, Jon Rose, Allan Lamb,
Jim Denley/ Rik Rue, Sally Couacaud, Joan Brassil, and Peter Callas about Australian participation in
the 1989 Ars Electronica.
Brophy, P. (ed.) 1980-82, New Music (5 issues), tsk, tsk, tsk, Melbourne.
Brun, H. 1986, The quote is from a conversation with the author. More of Bruns writing can be found
in Brun: My Words and Where I Want Them. London: Princelet Editions, 1986.
Burt, W. 1985,Instrumental Composition Australian Music Centre Journal, vol. 9 pp. 3-5, 14-15.
_____ 1989, Sample III for Computer Processed Orchestral Sounds New Music Articles, vol. 6 pp. 714.
_____ 1990, Fair exchanges Writings on Dance, vol. 5 pp. 38-44
Burt, W. & Gilbert, L. 1977-78, The New Music Newspaper (3 issues), La Trobe University and
Melbourne University Unions, Melbourne.
Cage, J. 1961, Silence, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown.
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Cross B. 1989, Collaborating with Percy Grainger New Music Articles, vol. 7 pp. 3-4.
de Haan, S. 1989, Flederman - a retrospective assessment New Music Articles vol. 7 p. 27-29.
Gaburo, K. 1976, The Beauty of Irrelevant Music, Lingua Press, Iowa City.
Gallagher, E. 1989, AZ Music New Music Articles, vol. 7 pp. 9-14.
Hopkins, S. 1990, Whirly Instruments Experimental Musical Instruments, vol. VI,3 pp. 11-13.
Jenkins, J. 1988, 22 Contemporary Australian Composers, NMA Publications, Melbourne.
Linz, R. (ed.) 1981, New Music Articles (10 issues to date), NMA Publications, Melbourne. Issue no 7
of this journal is entirely devoted to an oral history of Australian Experimental Music with articles by
Burnett Cross, Helen Gifford, Ernie Gallagher, Geoffrey Barnard, Jon Rose (as Igor Lipinski), John
Whiteoak, Simone de Haan, Greg Schiemer, Ernie Althoff, Ron Nagorcka, and Caroline Wilkins.
Mann, C. 1989, Conversation with the author. See also The Rationales, NMA Publications, Melbourne.
Nyman, M. 1975, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, Dutton, London.
Polansky, L. 1987, Buy One for Spare Parts, Frog Peak, Oakland.
Schiemer, G. 1977, The Ashes of Sydney present The Ashes of Sydney Festival The New Music
Newspaper, vol. 2 pp. 14-16.
_____ 1989, Towards a Living Tradition New Music Articles, vol. 7 pp. 21-26.
Whiteoak, J. 1989, Interview with Keith Humble New Music Articles, vol. 7 pp. 21-26.
Wishart, T. 1985, On Sonic Art, Imagineering Press, York.

Selected discography
John Jenkinss 22 Contemporary Australian Composers has excellent discographies covering much
Australian experimental music up to 1988. The following is a selected discography of some Australian
experimental recordings released since then.
Althoff, E. 1990, Music for Seven Metal Machines. Cassette. Pedestrian Tapes (Sydney) PX037.
Althoff, E. 1992, Thirty More. Cassette. Ernie Althoff (Burnley).
Anthology of Australian Music on Disc vols 4,5,6,13. One compact disc each volume. Canberra School
of Music CSM: 4,5,6,13. 1989 (volume 4 has among others, works by Riddell and Gerrard; volume 5,
Worrall, Tahourdin, Cary and others; volume 6, Burt, Milsom, Althoff, Mann, Mumme, Chesworth;
volume 13, de Haan, Schiemer, Wesley-Smith and others).
Austral Voices. Compact disc and cassette. New Albion Records (San Francisco) NA028. 1990. (works
by Bandt, Burt, Hopkins, Riddell, Bolleter, Pressing, and Lamb)
Bandt, R. 1989, Stargazer. Compact disc. Move Records ( Melbourne) MD 3075 and Vox Australis
VAST 0042.
Best Seats in the House! Cassette. NMA Publications (Brunswick) 1991. (with improvisations by
Salmon Chanted Evening, Hazeldine, Freeboppers, Rose, Shrieking Divas, Bent Metal, Johnson,
Campbell and Leak, Puppenspiel, Back to Back Zithers, Althoff, Committee Band, Musiikki-oy,
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Beavitt and Dargaville, Cogan and Everleigh, Burt and Lagzdina, Kim Farbach Quartet and Zocchi).
Bolleter R & Ratajczak, R. 1990, Jinx. Cassette. Pica Press (Perth) Audio 1.
Burke, B. & Zocchi, R. 1992, My Favourite Sonata. Cassette. Sounds and Visions (Elsternwick).
Burt, W. 1990, Chaotic Research Music. Cassette. Scarlet Aardvark (St Kilda).
Burt W. 1992, Some Kind of Seasoning (The Demo Tape). Cassette Scarlet Aardvark (St Kilda).
Coates, B. 1991, 31 Note Music3 Cassettes. Bill Coates (Blackheath).
Contemporary Australian Piano, Larry Sitsky. Compact disc. Move Records (Melbourne) MD 3066.
1988. (has recordings of Humble Sonatas 1 and 2.)
Denley, J. 1992, Dark Matter, Compact disc. Tall Poppies (Sydney).
Denley, J. & Vennonen, K. 1989, Time of Non Duration. Compact disc. Split Records (Sydney) 002.
From the Pages of Experimental Musical Instruments, vol.5. Cassette. Experimental Musical
Instruments (Nicasio) Vol V.
Gilbert, L. 1991, Kakadu Billabong. Compact disc. Natural Symphonies (Camden).
Hazeldine, R. 1992, Alter. Cassette. Red House (Burnley).
Hopkins, S. & Lamb, A. 1990, Sky Song, Compact Disk and Cassette. ABC Records (Sydney) 838503-4.
Jackson, R. 1992, Marine Lives. Cassette. Robert Jackson (Burnely).

Further links
Australian Composer Biographies (www.amcoz.com.au/composers)
Australian Music Centre (2007) Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to
reproduce this article either online or in print.

Subjects discussed by this article:


Ros Bandt
Percy Grainger
Robert Rooney
Barry McKimm
Syd Clayton
Keith Humble
Ian Bonighton
Stephen Dunstan
David Ahern
Geoffrey Collins
Roger Frampton
Greg Schiemer
Chris Mann
Ron Nagorcka
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Bruce Woodcock
Dan Robinson
David Chesworth
Felix Werder
Richard David Hames
Tristram Cary
James Penberthy
Bill Fontana
Martin Wesley-Smith
Jon Rose
Carl Vine
Flederman
Simone De Haan
Philip Brophy
Ernie Althoff
Sarah Hopkins
Richard Vella
Rainer Linz
Rodney Berry
David Worrall
Rik Rue
Elwyn Dennis
Alistair Riddell
Alan Lamb
Amanda Stewart
Jas H. Duke
Jim Denley
Warren Burt
Warren Burt is a composer, performer, instrument builder, video artist, sound poet, and writer. After
almost 30 years in Melbourne, he moved to Wollongong in 2004, where he is now a research fellow at
the University of Wollongong and also teaches audio engineering at the Illawarra Institute of TAFE.

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2/6/13

Some Musical and Sociological Aspects of Australian Experimental Music : Feature Article : Australian Music Centre

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