First emerging in North America and Europe in the late 1920s, contemporary percussion practices have transitioned from the fringes of contemporary music to the forefront over the past 90 years. In the 1960s contemporary percussion practices reached Australian shores and a new generation of artists added their voices to this narrative. The role of Australian activity is not yet embedded in the wider narrative of international contemporary percussion, nor is the significance of developments in contemporary percussion practices fully realised in the context of Australian music history. In this monograph, political, social and cultural influences on this art form will be examined for the first time in a historical survey of contemporary percussion music in Australia over a 50-year period, from 1960 to 2010. The rise of the percussion ensemble in the twentieth century to a standard chamber music ensemble is now recognised as one of the major advances in western art music practice internationally. A focus will be placed on ensemble activity via definitive documentation and analysis of ensembles that are amongst the most pioneering and longest established of Australian contemporary music organisations, including the Australian Percussion Ensemble, Synergy Percussion, Adelaide Percussions, Nova Ensemble, Tetrafide Percussion, Taikoz, Clocked Out and Speak Percussion amongst others. Closing with a discussion of influences and identity, this historical narrative will expand our understanding of the impact of Australian contributions to the international contemporary music scene while simultaneously examining how developments in contemporary percussion have contributed to Australia’s cultural identity.
Table of Contents
1. Contemporary percussion in Australia: the 1960s and 1970s 2. The emergence of Australian contemporary percussion: 1970s Melbourne 3. Contemporary percussion ensembles in Sydney 4. Contemporary percussion in Adelaide 5. Percussion in Western Australia 6. Percussion in Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart 7. The question of identity: looking back, looking out, looking in, looking forward
Louise Devenish’s artistic practice lies at the nexus of performance, research and education in percussion. Key projects include APRA AMC award-winning solo series Music for One Percussionist, The Sound Collectors duo, Australia’s leading percussion group Speak Percussion (Vic) and acclaimed electroacoustic sextet Decibel (WA), with whom she regularly performs at major festivals throughout Australasia, Europe, North America and the UK. A passionate advocate of new and Australian music, Louise has commissioned over 50 works for percussion, released solo album music for percussion and electronics (Tall Poppies) and published in Contemporary Music Review, Percussive Notes and Musicology Australia. Louise is Head of Percussion at the University of Western Australia Conservatorium of Music and is a Churchill Fellow.