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28 April 2016

Making Waves in 2015 and beyond

Making Waves in 2015 and beyond

Making Waves is a listening project started by composers Lisa Cheney (Melbourne) and Peggy Polias (Sydney) in January 2015. At 9am on the first of each month, an hour-long playlist of Australian new music is released via makingwavesnewmusic.com. Curated from the streamable online offerings sent directly by composers, each playlist offers a unique unifying theme to invite listeners to discover Australian new music. Peggy and Lisa explain how Making Waves got started, and where their project is headed.

(Peggy): As a new mother in 2013, I'd cocooned myself somewhat, mostly home-bound and easing back into work very slowly. In the early days, the idea of comprehending, let alone attending an evening concert, right in the middle of baby's 'witching hour', was too much to contemplate. As baby got older and I emerged from this fog somewhat, sleeping better and composing again, the curiosity and eagerness to delve into the music of my colleagues returned, but I still had this reality of being the 'preferred parent' for bedtimes!

(Lisa): I had been thinking about the types of ways in which I could help to foster a larger sense of community between composers around the country. Having just made a move from Queensland to Melbourne to commence a PhD in composition, finding a sense of connection and sharing between my composition colleagues became really important as I navigated my way through a unique career in a brand-new state. I was often asking myself questions about my new colleagues. Who where they and how could we connect? What were these composers working on out of the mainstream eye? And how might I go about getting my music heard and performed in the most organic way? When Peggy approached me with the idea for this project at the start of 2015, I knew immediately that this was something special! I believe more than ever that championing music and composers in this way has great potential to make an impact on the Australian new music community. This is especially true for composers in the early phases of their career, listeners, musicians, researchers and students.

A listening collaboration

Both of us were aware of the potential and possibilities for composers in the online space, with Lisa running a Women in Composition Facebook group and Twitter channel, and Peggy busily catching up on the work of colleagues online. With many composers independently posting their work via some of the mainstream, highly embeddable/shareable platforms, couldn't we gather these, following and engaging in a kind of ongoing listening journey? And with all the sharing functions of these platforms, why do this privately, why not make it a public project, a blog, a community?

We use the term 'early-career' to describe our priority composer subjects, but what we're looking for is broader than that. The goal is to make new music easy for listeners to discover, and to make living composers familiar to an interested audience. The tracks featured on our playlists are not heard often (or ever) on radio; they are independent releases that don't have wide distribution, or amazing non-commercial recordings quietly posted online by the composer. Many of us are flat out composing and working that 'other' job, and we simply don't have the time or resources to promote the music beyond the one performance it is commissioned for. So far we've included recordings from composers in a range of career stages, whether undergraduate students or mentors and academics themselves.

The idea that a recording has been included on a curated playlist, lends the music gravity - it's been peer-reviewed, and as a result 'published' in this playlist format by Making Waves. Making Waves as a listening journey, or 'journal', is a way of not only connecting listeners to new music but creating a sense of community between composers themselves. So many career milestones in our sector are competitive ones - development opportunities with limited places, or competitions with only one winner. It's so refreshing to visit a space where we can cheer each other on without the all-too-common tinge of disappointment of 'missing out'.

In 2016, we have a rich archive of over 12 hours of music and 70 composers behind us. If you're into statistics, check out the infographic.

This year, we're really excited to be planning new activities and forming new collaborations in the industry. We're pleased to report that, each month, a Making Waves-featured composer is interviewed for the Australian Sounds show on 3MBS Fine Music Melbourne (on Fridays at 10pm), and many of the featured tracks receive a broadcast. We're also delighted that Partial Durations are producing monthly podcasts featuring an in-depth interview with one composer about their featured work by Making Waves.

We are always open to ideas, and encourage anyone who might have thoughts about collaborating to get in touch.

How can you Make Waves?

Follow Making Waves via email or your preferred social media to keep up with the latest playlists as they go live, and learn a bit about each composer throughout the month. Make sure you're following all your favourite composers and performers too.

Catch up on all the music featured in the past by exploring the archive on the Making Waves website.

Discover more about the composers by visiting their profile on the Making Waves website and click through to the composer's own website.

Composers who would like to be considered for inclusion on a playlist can send us links to their work via the form on the Making Waves website. You can submit as many tracks as you like, anytime, whether you've been featured in the past or not. All music submitted via the form goes into the Making Waves submissions pool. This is a great way of keeping us up-to-date with your latest and best recordings.

Join the conversation. We want to hear from composers who might like to be interviewed for the recently-launched Making Conversation: Australian Composers' Project. This is a series of podcasts and videos of interviews with composers around Australia. Email your expression of interest to makingwavesnewmusic@gmail.com with the subject line 'Making Conversation EOI.'

A Pozible crowdfunding campaign for Making Conversation is running until 10 May. Thanks to Creative Partnerships Australia's MATCH program, every dollar you give to this campaign will be matched dollar for dollar, provided we reach our campaign target of $4000. Read more about the project and how you can support it.

Further links

Making Waves website. See also: Making Waves infographic; Making Conversation crowfunding campaign.

Lisa Cheney - AMC profile

Peggy Polias - AMC profile


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