playshop: day 1

by Naomi Johnson

 Getting to know the resident piano.

Getting to know the resident piano.

Rain on the roof of a large, resonant building is a sonic feast. Tuesday's rain on the roof of Legs on the Wall in Lilyfield bordered on auditory overload! But such is the energy of a residency that a deluge of rain seemed to be exactly what we needed to get the creative juices flowing. 

Tuesday was bump-in day, with the music box project and creative friends arriving from as close as just down the road and as far away is Brisbane. Joe F's double bass was already looming large in a corner (he'd had Monday as a head start), to which we added instruments familiar and unusual, plenty of microphones and a grocery shop. 

Then it was time for a jam. The cavernous space revealed a disused piano, whose tuning was so delightfully other that we began experimenting with percussion-like sounds almost immediately. What happens when we thread bow hair through this string? Where is a tiny music box best amplified on the piano's body? To this musical soup we added violin and voice, flute and toy piano in a free-form exploratory improvisation which lasted close to an hour. 

 Naomi and Henry performing Hosokawa's Bird Fragments III.

Naomi and Henry performing Hosokawa's Bird Fragments III.

As the clouds were beginning to turn orange and pink, Naomi and sho player Henry Liang shared their work on Hosokawa's Bird Fragments III, which they're preparing for an upcoming performance. Sho and piccolo pulsated together in the space, just about contending with the deluge of rain as it started again. 

From there we settled down for an evening of talk and music; Joe L sharing a multi-part Korean rhythm, improvising around and about a single note, chatting about how we allocate parts in Jassy Robertson's new work for soprano, theramin, toys and music boxes. 

When we finally locked the door and headed home it was still raining...a tuneful patter on the warehouse roof.