If you live in Sydney and, in addition to this computer, you are in possession of two radios, then this Sunday you're in for a treat... At exactly 10:30 pm, three separate parts of a trumpet, cello, percussion & field recording based composition will be broadcast simultaneously on community radio stations 2SER, FBI and via a Shoutcast internet stream (find details for tuning into that here).
The work is called Idea of South and is the brainchild of musician, composer and sound artist Roger Mills. The primary inspiration for it was The Idea of North, an experimental 1967 radio documentary by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould in which he took recordings of five people talking about the solitude and isolation of life in Canada's frozen north, and fashioned them into a contrapuntal composition. (Go here to see a video of a rather impassioned Gould discussing and playing excerpts from the work.)
Mills began his antipodean version of this project by issuing an open online call for field recordings recorded anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. The majority came from Australia, but there were also submissions from locations as far afield as Fiji, Chile, South Africa, and Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean. And the range of sounds was just as diverse - everything from wind sculptures, restaurant ambience and in-flight announcements on planes to whalesong, cow milking, and fences humming in the wind. (If you want to hear some of the submitted recordings, there is a zoomable map of them here.)
Mills then edited this wealth of source material into the final three parts and even created his own graphical notation to guide the musicians in laying down instrumental accompaniment. And the final results?... Well, you'll just have to stay in on Sunday night and hear them for yourself.
(If you're in town and don't have the necessary equipment to pick up all the broadcasts, don't despair. You can always head on down to Don't Look Back gallery, 419 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, where they'll be making an evening of it - starting off with a performance by the Forenzics before piping all three broadcasts through an in-house PA at the allotted time.)
To whet your appetite for this multi-broadcast radiophonic event, here's a sample from Mills' website:
A week or so ago, WFMU blog contributor, Lukas, posted this set of 19 rather historic lo-fi recordings that were committed to tape sometime between March and August 1957. The recordings are of a series of Sunday jam sessions that were convened by avant-garde composer, Edgard Varese, and together they constitute possibly the first ever free jazz recordings in history, appearing a full 3 years before Ornette Coleman's genre-defining album, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. Although they were not released on any label, some excerpts did find their way into Varese's landmark 1958 composition, Poeme Electronique.