Skyscraper Symphony

1 October 2020
Students build music from the ground up
Jack-hammering, heavy drilling and pouring concrete are not sounds that one would normally associate with music. However, a group of students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music have turned these activities into an engaging piece of music.

Wearing hard hats and boots for their guided tour to the 34th floor of AMP Capital's Quay Quarter Tower, Circular Quay, eighteen first and second year students from the Digital Music and Media program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music recorded the existing construction sounds over an afternoon.

AMP Capital approached their neighbours at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to help them document the sustainable ethos of the building – a vertical village supporting connection and collaboration rebuilt from 63 percent of the existing tower.

Led by Dr Ivan Zavada, Senior Lecturer in Composition and Music Technology, the students extracted the industrial sounds of demolition and rendered them into the musical style of their choice, to create eighteen short musical pieces which Dr Zavada edited into one long (56 minute) audio visual experience.

Dr Ivan Zavada, a specialist in electroacoustic music with a background in computer technology combined his own skills with an inspiring and progressive approach to teaching, allowing students to explore new ways of problem solving through creativity and innovation.

“I responded to the challenge immediately, because I saw a chance for the students to create something out of the ordinary while learning practical skills,” said Dr Zavada.

This project expanded the students’ perception of what a degree in composition and digital music and media can offer.
Dr Ivan Zvada

Sounds of Sustainability

View here

"It taught them essential skills in critical thinking, problem solving, writing a brief response, working to a deadline and stakeholder engagement." Said Dr Zavada.

“It is one of the most challenging and interesting teaching experiences, and the first time we have had the opportunity to work with a corporate partner. AMP Capital are incredibly supportive and as excited about the collaboration as we are.”

This is first time such a project has been undertaken anywhere in the world with the Quay Quarter Soundscape Project being an initiative of Quay Quarter’s community and stakeholder engagement program. It highlights the various opportunities offered to the University’s students which provides them with a range of potential employer interactions.

Quay Quarter Sydney is hoping to commission additional composition works from the students in the future, including music for video and to be heard in the new spaces, as part of the vision to be a cultural connector.  

The Quay Quarter Sounds (the sounds of sustainability) project is one of key initiatives in the University of Sydney’s “Connect for: A better future” program, which is themed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the idea of connections. 

Related articles