Articles on Composition

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Women face serious barriers to reaching the upper echelons of classical composing and conducting. Nicki Mannix

The sound of silence: why aren’t Australia’s female composers being heard?

The rate of female composers working in Australia hasn't risen in seven years. At one leading ensemble, 41 of 47 composers commissioned have been men. What's going wrong, and how can it be fixed?
Music notation itself has changed from the early modern period to the present day. Provenance Online Project/flickr

Musical literacy: a skill of some note(s)

Technological advances in music production have all but obliterated the need for popular music to be transcribed into musical notation. So why is musical literacy still important?
Breakdown was an interactive audiovisual dance performance at Ears Eyes and Feet in May this year, Austin Texas. Rodrigo Carvalho, Yago de Quay, Sunny Shen

Explainer: interactive composition

Computers have shaken up how we create and listen to music, and there is more radical transformation to come. The potential for digital music to be interactive is leading to new ways to experience and…
Maxime Pascal conducts the Argonaut Ensemble at BIFEM. Jason Tavener

Why Bendigo’s exploratory music festival is worth trumpeting

What, one might wonder, is the value of an international festival of exploratory music? And why is it in Bendigo, in north-west Victoria? In Australia, we have so many festivals featuring music, film…
It is the landscape of the interior that is most strongly associated with Sculthorpe’s music. 'Two movements - Peter Sculthorpe', a portrait by Danelle Bergstrom, 2008 Archibald Prize. AAP/ Supplied

Sculthorpe shaped composers with a connection to this land

Australia’s most distinguished composer Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014) has left a magnificent legacy – his music. Sculthorpe pioneered a uniquely Australian sound. The distinctiveness of his music emerges…
Australia’s most celebrated contemporary composer, Peter Sculthorpe, died on Friday. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A wonderful musical legacy: Peter Sculthorpe remembered

Peter Sculthorpe passed away at the age of 85 on Friday. As Australia’s best known composer of classical contemporary music, this gives us pause to reflect on the legacy of his music and also upon the…
What does the term “classical music” mean to us in the 21st century? Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti. AAP/ Dean Lewins

Explainer: classical music

Classical music means more than one thing and explanation is in order. Sometimes I make the distinction between big “C” and little “c”, but even that doesn’t fully solve it. The starting point is this…
Chris Dave seems to have internalised every piece of music he has ever heard. Photo by Gerard Victor

Hip-hop, breakbeat, flamenco … that’s 21st-century jazz

Jazz has evolved to become one of the most inclusive genres in modern music. But how does an art form that so willingly assimilates influences from different musical styles still hold on to its essence…
Not everyone can be a superstar – and very few can truly innovate. Mait Jüriado

Music is the loser in the quest for ‘innovation’

Innovation is much sought after in music – by musicians, often, by the federal government, increasingly. But could the pursuit of the slightly nebulous-sounding “innovation” be driving music in the wrong…

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