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Sounding Art Performance

  • Packenham St Arts Space Pakenham Street Fremantle, WA, 6160 Australia (map)

Decibel New Music Ensemble have commissioned a number of Australian visual artists to create artworks designed to be read as scores for performance. The artists were chosen for their connection to music, rather than their abilities to ‘make scores’ - artists who play in bands, have featured musicians in their works, have worked with musicians on work, or have works that can be read as music. A range of media will feature in the exhibition, including sculpture, painting, video and drawing.

For one night only, Decibel New Music Ensemble will perform the works "composed" by the exhibiting artists in Sounding Art. This is a ticketed event. Bookings through EventBrite.

Sunday 3 September 2017, 6.30pm - 7:30pm (Ticketed)



2 September - 29 September 2017

The catalogue "Sounding Art – Beyond Music Notation, Beyond Art" will be published by Tura New Music.

Following are extracts from the introductory essay to this publication by Professor Cat Hope, Artistic Director of Decibel New Music Ensemble.

Traditional western music notation is pretty much ubiquitous as a design, everyone knows what it looks like, even if they don’t know how to read it as music. It is accepted as the ‘language of music,’ a mysterious language for those not in the know, yet its limitations are rarely discussed. Improvisers ignore it altogether. 

Traditional notation is very good for describing certain kinds of music – music where specific instructions dictate the behaviour of pitch, harmony, tempo and rhythmic division as central tenets for creating and performing music. However, not all music requires these aspects to be at the core of its design. The impact of electronic music, in particular, has seen an interest in texture, extremely complex and long form pieces, new approaches to pacing and subdivision. Ideas about the role of a composer continue to change and morph as music develops through history. Not all composers wish to maintain control of every aspect of the music they create – many seek approaches where performers have more autonomy and agency in the way a piece of music is constructed through performance. Not all composers desire their pieces to sound the same every time. And as the number of composers performing in their own ensembles seems to be increasing, we are seeing an emphasis away from the idea of an ‘authoritative score’, toward an ‘authoritative performance’ or even a series of ‘authoritative performances’.

‘Sounding Art’ is both exhibition and performance, where Decibel explores the concept of notation a step further, away from the realm of composers and into the realm of visual artists. ‘Sounding Art’ features a variety of visual artworks intended to be read as scores by the musicians in Decibel. 

The exhibition will continue for four weeks, with a performance of the works featured in the opening weekend.

Decibel acknowledges the contribution of the following organisations towards this project.

- Tura New Music
- PS Art Space
- Australia Council for the Arts
- Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
- Monash University