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Artistic Research: a vibrant and ever-changing field

This article looks at artistic research from an Australian perspective, with an emphasis on the role professional doctorates have played in developing this field. 

Vol 9 No 1-2, 2023 Performing Practice-based research. Performance Matters

Untethered and together

Creative Matters March 2023

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On Found Objects

Commissioned text about Post Instrumental Practice

for Speak Percussion

January 2023

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About Filament - a showcase of post-instrumental practice

Percussion Perspectives Podcast

Percussion Perspectives ep. 18: Vanessa Tomlinson (Percussionist, Artistic Director, Researcher, Composer)

Ep. 18 Tuesday, November 8, 2022

with Håkon Mørch Stene & Henrik Knarborg Larsen.

Listen here

Inside the Musician. Vanessa Tomlinson: Thinking through the building blocks of my sound practice.

Material knowledge, active wonder, determined indeterminacy, form, sculpture, imagination, listening, choreography, spatial design, creative histories and sound. That is my palette for curating sound.

Loudmouth: Music Trust e-zine, July 2022.

Boundary Crossing: Thinking through best practice in interdisciplinary collaboration

NiTRO Edition 43: July 2022

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Our Field of Reference: the micro ecologies of industry connections in creative research

NiTRO Edition 40: March 4, 2022

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Musicking Alone

with Donna Weston, Leah Coutts and Diana Tolmie NiTRO Edition 35: June, 2021

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Clocked Out - Then and Now

In the Australian Music Centre's, Resonate Magazine, Clocked Out's Vanessa Tomlinson looks back at the 12 years the Duo has served as Ensemble in Residence at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. This period was brought to conclusion last October, with a stocktake revealing an impressive breadth and depth of activity.

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Two Perspectives: In Conversation

Drawing on Draper and Harrison’s earlier reflections in NiTRO on doctoral projects at Queensland Conservatorium (QCGU), I met with Charulatha Mani, an artist-researcher who has recently submitted her PhD on intersections between early opera and Karnatik music. From the perspective of a supervisor and a recent student, we talked about research in - and through - music in an institutional context.

NiTRO Edition 20: April 18th, 2019

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Soundings: Making Art in Place

in Sonic Ideas

This paper explores four different site-specific sound pro- jects called Soundings, and unpacks various reasons for ‘engagement with place’ as an arts practice. This practice is based on a collaborative approach to sound-making in various Australian environments, interactively undertaken between the author and Brisbane-based composer-perfor- mer Erik Griswold since 2007.

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On the Sensorial of Imagination

by Kathleen Coessens and Vanessa Tomlinson

From Sensorial Aesthetics in Music Practices, published by Leuwen University Press 2019.

The senses appear on the boundary between the inside and the outside of human experience. They are like an open door through which light, impres- sions, and air enter, are exchanged, and merge with the light, impressions, and air that were there before, exchanging inner and outer. While perception and sensoriality appear to be experiences that happen in real time, the sensorial can and most of the time does inhabit imagination in very precise ways. Sensorial imagination is related to human experience, to sensorial remembrance, and is based on sensorial knowledge. It happens in the present, is sustained by the sensorial knowledge of the past, and projects itself by way of sensorially driven expectations towards the future. Our sensorial imagination leads our interpret- ations, expectations, and actions. Offering background information as well as projecting expectation, it is an important cue for understanding the world, for creating synaesthetic associations, and for making connections between our experience and knowledge and those of others.

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Intersecting Place, Environment, Sound and Music

From Soundscape Journal

This paper explores both how and why composers in the twenty-first century have such an active engagement with the environment. Why is the place of music making so important right now? I propose that composition that intention- ally interacts with the environment changes the way we listen, deepens the listeners’ connection with the sonic material, and also activates our relationship to place. Furthermore, these compositions leave markers of cultural, social and environmental conditions at particular junctures in time. These considerations will be explored through an examination of six broad approaches to engaging with the environment in the making of sound-based art, some historical precedents with a focus on the Australian context, and then a look at some of my own site-specific projects.

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On Listening: A Universe of Sound

Contemporary Music Review

Listening, improvisation, sound, and place are four words that are central to my attitude of being an artist, a musician, and a percussionist. This article spans 25 years of experiences told through 10 short stories: beginning to improvise, buying a tam-tam, learning Music for 18 Musicians, not defining percussion, found objects, the Condamine bell, performative roots, determined indeterminacy, nostalgia, and playing the tam-tam now. Together these stories begin to examine the lived experience of one Australian percussionist grappling with the unstable, dynamic pathways of percussion.

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Wording New Paths: Text-Based Notation in New Solo Percussion Works by Natasha Anderson, Erik Griswold, and Vanessa Tomlinson by Cat Hope

New music compositions for percussion continue to embrace a wide range of musical idioms, performance approaches, and technologies associated with contemporary music making. Text scores have had an important role to play in percussion works where rhythmic structures are not a central concern, or where a significant amount of improvisation is required, but also in works that feature electronic parts. Percussion music has tested the capacity of traditional notation to represent a broad range of new ideas, and text, alongside graphic notation, offers an alternative possibility for composers designing new sound worlds for percussion. Building on early examples of text scores by composers such as Alvin Lucier, Tom Johnson, Pauline Oliveros, and Yoko Ono, this paper examines three recent Australian works that engage text as the principal aspect of the score, with reference to their premiere performances by Australian percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson. The works composed are by Tomlinson, Natasha Anderson, and Erik Griswold.

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What were we thinking? Reflections on artistic research in music

Draper, P., Emmerson, S., Brown, A & Tomlinson, V. (2015)

This paper explores the recent emergence of artistic research literature and extends this by examining the practice of the authors as musicians and researchers. Individual case studies respond to questions raised in the literature by interrogating music making processes. Through reflexive narratives, each author explains the thinking behind their music, exemplified in high definition audio-visual recordings of the works. These texts are used, in conjunction as multiple cases to explore and reflect upon the common attributes of the authors’ artistic research in music. 

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Here and Now: 

edited Tomlinson and Wren (2016)

Here and Now is a snapshot of the artistic process, taken from a particular time and place; musicians based in Brisbane, Australia in 2013-14. It is not a singular story, but an entry point into the multiple ways we can approach the making of music. If we added 10 more authors, we would have 10 more approaches. What is in common here, is the dedication to sound and music as a way of interacting with the world – providing windows of deeply considered process, transformation, interaction, isolation and collaboration. Also in common is a two-part process – making the music, then interpreting this process through words, highlighting the thinking behind the music. From performing the cadenzas in a Beethoven Piano Concerto to making jazz compositions based on Carnatic rhythmic structures, from a long-term investigation of prepared piano to building new listening environments, these are stories that reflect our place and time, here and now.

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The Listening Museum and the Museum of Listening

The Listening Museum took place on April 20, 2013, in the factory of Urban Art Projects. The Listening Museum was inspired by the machinery, the site, and the promise of a bronze pouring. This chapter in Here and Now examines the event through a Typology of Listening, finding out more about the role of curating temporal sound events.

Read about the Listening Museum page 11 onward

Watch excerpt from The Listening Museum II

Watch excerpt from The Listening Museum III

The Listening Museum and Clocked Out

Two Decades of Artistic Research: The Antipodean Experience

by Huib Schippers, Paul Draper and Vanessa Tomlinson

In "Artistic Research in Music: Discipline and Resistance" ed Jonathon Impett

The Orpheus Institute celebrates 20 years of artistic research in music Artistic research has come of age, and with it the Orpheus Institute. Founded twenty years ago, the Institute’s purpose from the start has been to pursue research through the practice of musicians. The Orpheus Institute is of the same generation as the field it was established to explore. Like many young adults, artistic research and its structures are still constructing their identity within a wider world. How have they developed? How will they mature? How can they negotiate relationships with institutions, disciplines, and bodies of theory and yet retain the essence of their work—the critical perspective of the artist? In the last two decades there have been major changes in the dynamics and structures of culture, its institutions and constituencies. How can artistic research maintain a productive dialectic between its potential status as a discipline and its core as radical practice?

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Music for the Banal, the Obvious, the Everyday

Music for the Banal, the Obvious, the Everyday is an ongoing project that examines the specifics of site through deep listening and local materials; drawing on the performance tradition of Pauline Oliveros and R.Murray Shafer as well as compositions of Xenakis and Feldman.

Music for the Banal, the Obvious, the Everyday contributes to our understanding of the field of acoustic anthropology and ecological art, cleansing our ears, and making listening an act of positive activism.

This paper was first presented at Balance Unbalance, 2013, and is available in this e-book.

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Sounding the Condamine

Walking into the Brisbane Museum in mid-2008 to look at the ten icons of Queensland was hardly meant to be a musically life-changing experience. The group of artefacts – including mango tree, the Ekka, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Condamine Bell – seemed innocent enough. 

But the bell was large, impressive, and totally unknown to me, Head of Percussion at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, and interested in all things struck, hit, scraped or shaken.

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The Wide Alley

The Wide Alley extends a long commitment to the musics of Sichaun province which began with a visit with Erik Griswold and Harry Castle for the Sichaun Conservatory 60th Anniversay back in 1999. Thanks to the wonderful host Zou Xiangping I was able to experience the local opera tradition, and managed to return on an Asialink grant a few years later to study the Opera Percussion and to make new work out of other local folk traditions. Since then Clocked Out have worked closely with a number of musicians from this area developing The Wide Alley.

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Music for 18 Musicians 

This paper is a performance analysis of Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. Back in 1998 this was possibly the first performance of the work outside of Steve Reich and Musicians, and the performance practice  in relation to the then recently published score needed to be addressed. The paper takes the reader through decision making processes, collective performance practice, and realtime performance issues.

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