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Channelling Dulcie's Piano - How the River taught the piano to sing

Vanessa Tomlinson, Jesse Budel and Greg Harm

Driving the piano from The Piano Sanctuary (Murray Bridge) to Willson’s Downfall (The Piano Mill) in an 8-day series of performances, Channelling Dulcie's Piano draws on the normally inaudible underwater sounds of the river system that traverses these locations - The Murray, the Darling/Barka, the Baron, the Gwydir, Boonooboonoo Creek and all the tributaries, lagoons and billabongs in between.

The piano is a 1920’s Milton pianola, originally in the house of Vanessa’s Nana in Fullarton, Adelaide. Originally gifted to Jesse to become part of the Murray Bridge Piano Sactory, it was later decided to drive the piano to the Piano Mill site where Clocked Out (Vanessa and Erik Griswold) are artists in residence.

Drawing on Vanessa and Jesse’s interest in acoustic ecology and freshwater acoustic monitoring, the multi-day composition consists of recording the water-source using hydrophones; playback of the recording verbatim in the performance with Vanessa and Jesse performing live with the underwater sounds, "channelling" the fish sounds through Dulcie’s piano - teaching the piano to play. All photos and videos are by Greg Harm.

Following the 8-day tour in May 2023, further plans towards a multi-modal installation, recording, festival performance, film and book are in development. Stay tuned for updates!


Murray Bridge – the Murray River flood plains at Mobilong (haven for birds).


Renmark – Murtho Forrest Landing Campsite, Murray River.


Wentworth – Private property on the Darling River, near the confluence of the Murray River.


Wilcannia – Wirrawong Bush Camping, Billabong off the Barka (Darling) River


Cobar – day off, with informal performance at the Sound Chapel


Brewarrina – Beds on the Barwon, Barwon River near the Fish Traps.


Moree – Pringy’s Farmstay, Mehi River


Willson’s Downfall – The Piano Mill overlooking Boonoo Boonoo Creek

Performance Sites

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