|Mickrophonie I, Transducer, Speak Percussion, THNMF2013|
photo Brad Serls
Transducer is a work almost entirely devoid of instruments in the traditional sense. Sticks, ping-pong balls and coins are used to instigate acoustic events for which microphones act as receptors. These events are then spatialised and manipulated around the hall through eight speakers, projecting sounds almost alien from their original source. The spectacular players of Speak Percussion perform the work with great dedication, as their bodies become integrated into the piece, with microphones picking up their movements and transmitting them into the electronic sound world.
With direct references to Reich and Cage, Transducer is a work more about playing within the electrical sound space than precise reproduction. Hisses and spits of feedback comprise the core soundscape, which is manipulated with expertise by Robin Fox, creating dynamic sound events. The piece evokes moments of harmonic beauty, especially when sine wave tones are emitted from different speakers that are “played” as microphones are randomly swung over them. At other moments, all turns to cacophony, and one is transported into huge sound worlds of electric currents crashing against one another, disrupting and dispersing in a display of uncontrollable power.
|Leah Scholes, Eugene Ughetti, Transducer, Speak Percussion, THNMF2013|
photo Brad Serls
An early work in his oeuvre, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie I (1964), is for tam-tam with four players scratching and scraping its surface. These sounds are then picked up by handheld microphones and beamed out through speakers situated around the ghostly expanse of Hackett Hall. The players “speak”, either with their voices or with various shapes of cups, tubes and even children’s toys, into the tam-tam. Communicating with each other, sometimes in harmony, at other times in conflict, the players negotiate the tam-tam’s metallic surface like explorers of an alien planet.
The performance by Speak Percussion was profound, as they communicated with each other with soul-bearing intimacy through the surface of the tam-tam. In a work that requires communal agreement not only in performance, but also in deciding the order in which the piece is played (the score allows for multiple approaches), Speak Percussion showed their ability to perform not only as phenomenal soloists but as a group that is able to negotiate complex sound worlds.
Totally Huge New Music Festival, Transducer, Speak Percussion with Robin Fox; Hackett Hall, The West Australian Museum, Perth, 10 Aug
John Barton is a Perth-born composer, currently completing his post-graduate music studies at the University of Western Australia concurrent with Law. Having completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with honours, John has a keen passion for both music and words."
© John Barton; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com