What do you hear when you listen with your body?

8 July 2022
Sound Touch: Music you can feel
Sound Touch, an immersive multi-sensory performance for solo percussion and electronics, will premiere on 27 July. It is a playful and provocative exploration of music's capacity to affect one's character and a sensory lesson in the delicate art of listening.

Associate Professor Damien Ricketson, Composition and Music Technology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music developed and composed this immersive multi-sensory creative work following exploration of how our bodies perceive sound that our ears cannot.

The work is an attempt to compose music that bypasses the brain to act directly on the body.
Associate Professor Damien Ricketson, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

"The idea for Sound Touch began after meeting with my colleague Wojciech Chrzanowski, Deputy Director of the Sydney Nano Institute and a faculty member in the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health. He and other colleagues were manipulating stem cells by shaking them with sound. I became interested in the effect of vibration at the cellular level, on our skin and nerves, and stumbled upon countless scientific and spiritual theories — mostly speculative, but poetically rich for creative development,” said Damien Ricketson.

“Imagine a piece of music that bypasses your brain and penetrates your skin. Music that plays upon your nervous system like an Aeolian harp, as though you are a set of sympathetic strings stirred into resonance by distant touch.”

The 45-minute experience includes performances on 'biosonic' tuning forks, passages of electronic music in the infra and ultrasonic ranges as well as custom designed instruments including sound cannons and a vibrating bridge on which audiences feel specially composed music through the soles of their feet.

Sound Touch explores vibration and the body. While the project began as a play on music's capacity to affect one's character - the recurrent theme of resonance (sympathetic vibration, emotional entrainment and being ‘in tune’ or ‘on the same wavelength’ as others) has made the work increasingly about connection - with one another and our environment - and the art of listening with the full body.

Sitting somewhere between a musical performance and an unusual sound healing, percussionist Niki Johnson guides listeners through a tune-up, a sonic massage and a sound bath that Ricketson hopes will leave audiences sensitive and attuned to the world around them.


Damien Ricketson – concept/composer

Niki Johnson – percussion

Sally Blackwood – director

Fausto Brusamolino – lighting design

Benjamin Carey – sound design


The performance season will run 27-30 July at Phoenix Central Park.

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