Live Music vs. Covid-19 Music-at-a-Distance

Dr. Chris Sainsbury, Ensemble Offspring, and the five inaugural Ngarra Burria Composers at Eora Aboriginal College, 2017.

As Australia comes to terms with COVID-19 protocols, musicians and composers are working out how to “do” music online. This photo of the first Ngarra Burria concert at Eora Aboriginal College in 2017, shows how Australian Indigenous and immigrant origin musicians (Claire Edwardes, Ensemble Offspring, and the five inaugural Ngarra Burria Indigenous composers Rhyan Clapham, Brenda Gifford, Troy Russell, Tim Gray and myself) normally work together, in close proximity, to make music. But it is also possible, as demonstrated by the brilliant Lux Aeterna virtual choir a few years back, to gather in virtual spaces to make music effectively. The current COVID-19 crisis may require musicians and composers to engage in safe online collaboration. And as an accommodation to social distancing, Italian balcony music also seems to have taken off! So despite my advanced years, and my unfamiliarity with invasive webcams, video conferencing, podcasting, and Skype, I’ve decided to jump into making balcony music, video conferencing, jamming and broadcasting virtual music online. Yes, I do have a balcony – in fact, two balconies! My neighbours and I, like the irrepressible Italians, will quite possibly use drones, to film our Western Sydney balcony studio performances. Hearing Mikey O’Neil’s presentation on interactive gaming music at ANU School of Music was certainly a great introduction to crafting multiple responsive loops, suitable for balcony-to-balcony musical conversations. And Prof. Frank Millward’s demonstration of making music with birdsong recordings could add another dimension.

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