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Malcolm Tattersall : Associate Artist

Tattersall writes for immediate performing and teaching needs and is as happy to adapt older work as to write new if it suits the occasion.

Photo of Malcolm Tattersall

Photo: Kaye Gersch


Malcolm Tattersall was born in Wangaratta, Victoria, in 1952 and grew up in country Victoria. After working in Melbourne for a few years in electronics and computing he became, in 1976, one of the foundation recorder students at Melbourne University, where he also studied composition with Barry Conyngham and Peter Tahourdin. He completed his B. Mus in 1980 and returned for an M.Mus. Prelim in musicology in 1983.

After a decade of teaching recorder in Melbourne, he moved to Townsville with his family in 1990. There he teaches recorder and orchestral woodwinds, and performs regularly in ensembles including the baroque chamber group The Telemann Ensemble.

Amongst other activities he established Cootamundra Music in 1982 to publish and distribute Australian recorder music. He contributed regularly to The Recorder, the journal of the Victorian Recorder Guild (and de facto national recorder journal) from its inception, and was its editor from 1989-93; he now regularly reviews CDs for journals such as Music Forum.

As a student, Malcolm Tattersall was immersed in modernism, both as a recorder player and as a composer, and his works in the late 1970s and early '80s are mostly atonal and frequently exploit the vocabulary of extended woodwind techniques which are so effective on recorder (e.g. Franklin River). But at the same time, his ongoing participation in both early music and Irish-Australian folk music emerges in arrangements and occasional original pieces written from within those traditions. Less obviously, the traditional and tonal fuse with the modernist and atonal in pieces such as Ikaho.

Around 1990, Tattersall moved decisively away from atonality for reasons argued in 'Unequal Temperament and Atonality' (Sounds Australian No 37, Autumn 1993). Coincidentally, the increasing demands of his other musical activities in the early '90s reduced the amount of time he could find for composition. Most of his compositional work since then has been prompted by his needs as a performer and teacher and consists of arrangements and transcriptions with an emphasis on traditional music and the baroque. Recent compositions build on those strong foundations in melody-centred and often modal music while remaining open to formal and technical innovation.


Biography provided by the composer — current to March 2009