Music and the arts more broadly change continuously; yet, perhaps surprisingly, there are many major differences between their features in different societies. Correspondingly, in Australia, intercultural music-making is now strongly pursued and valued, yet many musical avenues are little travelled. Intercultural musical exchange can clearly benefit the social understanding and interaction of different groups, but it is only part of the wide range of possible approaches to extending creativity in music-making we could espouse. In the commercial and social transit of the arts around the world, any aspect of them may be challenged or transformed. Conversely, different societies may encourage or resist transformation of their own art forms, or maintain several practices with distinct positions on this. This work will suggest that taking due account of cultural context, one can consider approaches to creating innovative new works in which the conventions of the arts surrounding one—and perhaps more importantly, all of the fundamental materials of those arts—are open to systematic modification.
In the case of music, this work will discuss transforming tuning systems (such as the range of pitches heard on the piano), timbral systems (the variety of tonal qualities that our instruments and electronic music produce), and systems of hierarchical and sequential organisation (aspects of melodic and harmonic repetition and juxtaposition), as examples of this approach. Such transformation can focus on the current systems of one’s own culture, and yet be relevant and interesting to other creators and listeners. The potential benefits of this are not only for creative work per se and its expressive and intercultural application. They are also for studies that seek to understand how music impinges upon us and to foster appreciation. The work will refer to some research that addresses the distinction between musical features that may be perceived largely through biologically-determined processes, and those that are far more heavily influenced by cultural exposure, noting the powerful influence that language may have on this.
Professor Dean will give musical illustrations during the presentation, and argue for the broad applicability of transformative approaches across the arts. Dean will finally perform a recent piece for piano and live computing, that explores an aspect of such systematic mutation of the vocabularies and usage of musical materials.
Roger Dean is Professor in Sonic Communication at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, at Western Sydney University. A well-known composer, improviser, and performer, he is also the Artistic Director of the group AustraLYSIS. Since 2007 Dean's research focus has been on music cognition, and music computation (both analytic and generative). He has authored or edited books such as Practice–Led Research: Research-Led Practice in the Creative Arts (2009), Creative Improvisation: Jazz, Contemporary Music and Beyond (1991), The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music (2009), and The Oxford Handbook of Algorithmic Music (2018).
Venue: Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Online attendance option also available
Time: Tuesday 24 October 6:30pm
Approximate running time: 75 minutes, followed by a social event.
Register to attend in-person via the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Box Office.