Looking Awry

by Sam McAuliffe

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released July 9, 2016

Improvisatory frameworks by Sam McAuliffe

Sam McAuliffe - Guitar
Tony Hicks - Woodwinds
Reuben Lewis - Trumpet
Ziggy Zeitgeist - Drums
Mark Shepherd - Synth

Recorded at Moreland City Band Hall with Callum Edwards
Mixed and Mastered by Callum Edwards at Sloth Studios

Artwork by Sam McAuliffe

(c) Sam McAuliffe 2016

These recordings were made as part of my masters research at Monash University. My project was 'Responding to sounds of the environment: developing strategies for improvised musical performance'

To further contextualise the recordings, here is my exegesis abstract:

This research project concerns the development of an improvisatory music practice informed by sounds of the environment. The primary outcome of this project is a compilation of audio recordings of five works created while undertaking the research. This exegesis elucidates my interest in developing performance frameworks for improvising musicians by studying sounds of the environment, outlines the development of performance strategies in response to field recordings from select locations, and provides a commentary on the final works.

Following a reflective, practice-led research methodology a study of select field recordings of acoustic locations was undertaken to develop improvised musical works. Selected locations were those I traversed during my routine activities while living in Melbourne, Australia. The refinement of the musical process involved reviewing literature by theorists and musicians such as Luigi Russolo, Pierre Schaeffer, Salomé Voegelin, and Paul Hegarty, and the musical output of practitioners such as Luc Ferrari, Brian Eno, and Jim Denley. Engaging with the work of significant predecessors whose work has also been inspired by sounds of the environment informed my practice and contextualised my contribution to the field.

Inspired by Jon Rose’s essay The Music of Place: Reclaiming a practice, the performance practice established during this research integrated my interest in free improvisation within the notion of place – the sounds of my everyday environment. In this project I strove to acknowledge and draw attention to select locations of the Australian environment to raise awareness of the environment’s inherent beauty and innate musicality. I have demonstrated how these sounds can inform an improvisatory performance practice – an approach that is malleable and could be adopted by other practitioners from differing musical backgrounds. In addition, this project offers broad insights into a contemporary improvisatory practice for both specialised and non-specialised listeners and readers.


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Sam McAuliffe Melbourne, Australia

Sam McAuliffe is a musician from Melbourne, Australia.
He performs across a variety of disciplines including free improvisation, sound art, noise/rock, jazz, blues, and folk.

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