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composer speaks


The composer speaks : composers and their colleagues discuss Australian music / edited by Graeme Skinner.

  • 1 digital (PDF) eBook
  • Published by Australian Music Centre — 2015
  • Purchase Price: $8.64 (Available for immediate download) — Add to Cart
  • Library Availability: This item is not available from the Australian Music Centre Library


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This pdf e-book is a reissue of the book first published in 1991. The file size is 17MB.

In the 1990s, the Australian Music Centre published three volumes of conference proceedings under the title The Composer Speaks. The first one of these, edited by Graeme Skinner, included a substantial part of the program of the first Australian National Composers' Conference, organised by the Australian Music Centre (under its then trading name Sounds Australian) in Sydney in 1988. The proceedings from two subsequent conferences were later published in The Composer Speaks II and The Composer Speaks III. E-book versions of these will be made available in 2016.

The 1988 conference, organised in the year of the European Australia's Bicentennial, was the first major gathering of Australian composers since an early event organised in Canberra in 1973. The AMC's then director, Richard Letts, wrote in his foreword to the first The Composer Speaks volume:

'While musical composition had been an element of Australian cultural life since the early days of European settlement, it is generally held that compositional practice became truly contemporaneous stylistically with advanced practice in Europe and North America only from 1960 onwards. Although not entirely accurate, this is a serviceable enough characterisation. Those fifteen years leading up to the 1988 conference take in more than half of the subsequent period - a time of enormous development, diversification and maturation. The conference therefore was the occasion for a stocktaking.'

The conference agenda covered topics that continue to occupy Australian creative musicians: the position of female composers, multicultural influences, quotation and appropriation, music criticism, and collaborations - also included in The Composer Speaks I are sessions on music and technology, providing a snapshot of the latest technological advances of the time. Speakers include some of Australia's sharpest musical minds, composers and commentators, including Roger Covell and Roger Smalley at their most engaging, Barry Conyngham, Richard Mills, Moya Henderson, Ann Carr-Boyd, Ann Ghandar, Mary Mageau, Ross Edwards, Ian Shanahan, Michael Atherton, Michael Hannan, Elisabeth Silsbury, Peter McCallum, Keith Humble, Peter Tahourdin, Lawrence Whiffin, Don Kay, Graeme Koehne, Martin Wesley-Smith, Andrew Ford, Judith Clingan, Andrew Schultz, Michael Smetanin, Warren Burt, Greg Schiemer and Rik Rue.

Many of the topics were revisited in subsequent conferences in 1990 and 1992, and the series of three The Composer Speaks books, long out of print, is an important document of the development of thinking around some central issues to Australian composition. They are obviously also documents very much of their time, and in some cases speakers in these conferences perhaps went on to think about these same issues very differently. Nevertheless, as Richard Letts pointed out in his foreword, the proceedings are 'a fascinating account of the circumstances of Australian composition and its practitioners' of the time.

The Composer Speaks I e-book is a pdf facsimile edition, and the pagination has been kept intact which results in some blank pages between chapters. Contents table has been equipped with hyperlinks to each chapter.

ISBN: 978-0-909168-84-1

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