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Music: process and perception - Darrin Verhagen on The Sound Barrier

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 8 October 2017

Just what does it mean, and what does it involve, to create music? Is music about organising thematic fragments, made up of pitches and rhythms, developed and built in different ways? Is it about the ears, and what our ears enable us to recognise and connect to from those themes?

On the edges of music and sound art over the past sixty or so years, some of the most daring and edgy sound artists, musicians, and composers have been exploring these very issues and we will have a chance to engage with some of their ideas this weekend on The Sound Barrier too.

This week's edition of the show will introduce some of the concepts from, and one of the keynote speakers at, PROCESS: A Sonic Forum, next Saturday, 14 October, at The Channel, at the Melbourne Arts Centre's.

Melbourne composer, sound designer, and multi-sensory artist and researcher, Darrin Verhagen, will be a lead speaker at the forum and will be joining me on the show this weekend to talk about some of the ideas he is exploring in his work, where he develops ideas about how music is perceived and, specifically now, about the interactions and relationships between music and other sensory perceptions.

It raises questions about how music really is created, and how it is received, the processes it can draw from. They are more, and more complex, than the simple thematic perceptions of music might lead us to think. I will be playing music throughout the show to illustrate some of these points, from music generated by brainwaves, through music formed out of the meditative perceptions of abstract architecture translated into tangible sound, to one of the earlier works that radicalised the thematic-based notion of music-forming: Karlheinz Stockhausen's EXPO for three players from 1970, a work that is formed out of processing sound events according to a formatic scheme, rather than to the structures of the more conventionally predetermined musical parameters of pitch, duration, dynamics, and timbre.

I will also be playing you some of the brand-new album The Centre Cannot Control from Darrin's erstwhile student, Ben Frost – which will also be available as a giveaway to one lucky PBS member who calls in through the show when I put out the offer during the show. Tune in to find out when that is!

Speaking of which – if you're not already a member of PBS, or just want to take out another membership to add to the one you already have from Radio Festival earlier in the year, remember that October is Spring Clean Your Conscience month: a chance to break out of the winter doldrums by becoming a part of the PBS community and supporting the Home of Little Heard Music with a membership. There are some amazing prizes on offer for the lucky, and a warm and fuzzy spring glow for everyone!

I hope you can join me this Sunday night at 10.00 PM (AEDT), either on PBS radio (analogue or digital) locally or online (via the PBS App or on the web) anywhere. The show is also available to listen back to here online, shortly after it has gone live to air.

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