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Music of the Piano Mill 2018

Digital Audio Album

Music of the Piano Mill 2018 / Lynette Lancini, Louise Denson, & Vanessa Tomlinson.

  • Published by Harrigans Lane Collective — 3 February, 2020 — 1 online resource (3 sound files)
  • Sales Availability: This item may be available to purchase from the Australian Music Centre.
    Please contact our Sales Department to confirm pricing and availability.
  • Library Availability: This item is not available from the Australian Music Centre Library


This item may be available to purchase from the Australian Music Centre.
Please contact our Sales Department to confirm pricing and availability.

Featured Australian works

  Work Composer PerformersDuration
Mill Life (2018) — site specific live performance Louise Denson 9 mins, 45 sec.
megaMammal — site specific live performance Lynette Lancini 9 mins, 50 sec.
Lucy and Bubbles — site specific live performance Vanessa Tomlinson 13 mins, 19 sec.

Product details

An embodied Piano Mill is given voice by composers Lynette Lancini, Louise Denson, and Vanessa Tomlinson, who imagine three diverse scenarios.

In megaMammal, Lynette Lancini conceives of the 16 pianists as a single giant organism, musicking together as one. She creates a vibrant tapestry of Britannia, Australiana, and even Russian themes, which are unified by a rolling four-chord vamp and mesmerizing vocal refrain (sung by Merinda Dias-Jayasinha and the composer). The work is framed with 19th century colonial references, from Waltzing Matilda to God Save the Queen, and ends with a good old fashioned shoot-out, bringing megaMammal to a surprising close.

Machine rhythms form the basis for Louise Denson's driving Mill Life, in which the Piano Mill seems to come to life as a working factory. Denson painstakingly transcribed the repetitive clanking and whirring of industrial machines sourced from archival recordings (namely the "Boynton & Plummer Travelling Head Shaper" and the "East Broad Top Railroad Steam Engine"). Percussive effects and extended techniques - knocking on railings, strumming and striking the strings of the pianos - complement intricate, syncopated rhythms and bluesy clusters, which are orchestrated in exquisite detail.

In Lucy and Bubbles, Vanessa Tomlinson presents a suite of musical vignettes that seem to draw us into an imaginary story. In part 1 we hear knocking and calling (the 16 pianists call out each others' names at random). In part 2 pulsing rhythms appear, build, are layered, and eventually climax in an incessant tritone chord repeating with "punk rock" intensity. In part 3 the mood relaxes into a dreamscape featuring the plucked tones of 2 string pianos. Finally a minimalist waltz (shades of Philip Glass?) emerges, develops, chromatically shifts, bifurcates, develops some more, until the pianists once again call out - this time searching for the elusive protagonist of the surrealist narrative, Lucy (and her bubbles).

The Piano Mill is a steampunk tower in the forest of New South Wales purpose built to house 16 vintage upright pianos. Created by architect Bruce Wolfe, the structure is a building and fantastical musical instrument all in one. The Piano Mill has been acknowledged with a 2018 World Architecture Award (Culture - Completed Buildings) and a 2017 AMC APRA Art Music Award (Excellence in Experimental Music).

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