Jim Denley

#61 - Sounding Together (as seen and heard by Stuart Orchard)

Sounding Together (2018): a stimulating, inspiring, left-field and anarchic weekend  making music in and around the WA Wheatbelt town of Koorda.  12 of us spent Friday - Monday in various improvisation ‘workshops’ scattered around the dry hills, wheat fields, salt lakes, scrub, bush around 250 kms east of Perth.  


The ‘collective anarchism’ approach fostered by the organisers worked nicely. Josten led proceedings while Jim Denley gently mentored the group. The weekend culminated in a performance at Old Customs House in Fremantle. 

Many philosophical questions arose for me across the weekend.  For example, is destruction creation or just destructive? That is, can you create without being destructive?

Musically, in improvising within an environment together - what options do we have? 

  • imitating

  • contrasting 

  • blending

  • listening

  • stop playing

  • offering…?

  • make appropriate noises?!


of particular note for me was how enjoyable it was to be playing music nearly all day and night with like-minded people doing the same; doing weird music in the bush, at The Lodge, and in the football stand where things got loose. i was happy with the racket i pulled from a steel pipe and a road works witches hat. it sounded like a cat arching up. hah. bit scary. we finished with a Gregorian chant thing. afterwards Jim said we sounded like a cult. 

i enjoyed toying with found sounds - corrugated iron, sand/glass/wood on metal, extended techniques on the guitar, and experimenting with Aeolian guitar, that is, largely played by the wind.

for our culminating performance at Old Customs House in Fremantle, I tried to incorporate all of these (except the wind thing!) plus a broken capo - I broke it in the woods playfrom opening and closing it too much for the squeaking sound.

a great concept and a great group of musicians/composers/artists. 

also, there were a lot of laughs along the way. hurrah.