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From “Music for the Banal” to “The Listening Museum”; An examination of listening through found objects and site-specific work

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lucian Stephenson.


How is listening important in our everyday lives? How do we discern between the ongoing (the drone), the specific (the intentional composition) and the unexpected (the sound intervention)?

This two-part talk journeys from the researcher’s personal artistic practice involving deep listening and collecting a found-object instrumentarium, to a large scale application of these ideas in the aspirational and tested environment of The Listening Museum. Following from ideas of Pauline Oliveros and R.Murray Shafer and incorporating site-specific, improvisational and ecological awareness, this talk will contribute to the field of acoustic ecology through awareness of place, environmental sound, and intentional sonic interventions. As a percussionist Tomlinson has a long history of dealing with sound, and the talk will traverse from her specific solo performance practice to one that engages community, composers, factory workers, performers and the general public in revaluing the act of listening.


Vanessa Tomlinson is active in the fields of solo percussion, contemporary chamber music, improvisation, installation and composition, and is Associate Professor in Music at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. She is particularly well-known for her interpretations of the music of Pateras, Griswold and Globokar, her improvisational language that incorporates sonic investigations of found objects, nature, and toy instruments, her intercultural work between Sichuan folk music and Western experimental traditions, and her work as co-artistic director with the multi-award winning Clocked Out. She is the recipient of 2 Green Room Awards, the 2011 APRA /AMC Award for Excellence by an organization or individual, and has been awarded artist residencies through Asialink (University of Melbourne), Civitella Ranieri (NY/Italy), Banff (Canada) and Bundanon (NSW). She has recorded on numerous labels including Mode Records, Tzadik, ABC Classics, Etcetera, Clocked Out and Innova.

This talk is part of the Arts, Culture and Education series.

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