Revealing the Roots: Researching Australian Contemporary Percussion

Research output: Other contribution


In 2010, I travelled to Indianapolis to perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in one of four concerts linked by the theme of ‘Ecology of Percussion’. This theme provided the opportunity for percussionists to share works that highlighted the influence of place on the composer and/or performer. At the time I was especially interested in music for the marimba, and I presented one of my first commissions by a Western Australian composer, Their Kind of Moon by David Pye. During PASIC I also attended a fascinating presentation on the emergence of contemporary marimba performance practices. During discussions of mallet percussion in South America, Asia, Africa and Europe, I eagerly awaited a discussion of developments in Australia that never came. The percussive histories of the aforementioned countries connected contemporary practices to indigenous practices, and it was suggested that the exclusion of a discussion of Australian developments was because there are no Australian indigenous mallet percussion instruments. I started to wonder how it was that the marimba (an instrument at the centre of so many well known Australian percussion works) was first used in Australia, and why. This quickly led to a much bigger question: how did contemporary percussion emerge in Australia? Most percussionists would cite Synergy Percussion as responsible for the earliest contemporary percussion activities in Australia, but how and why did these activities take place? What, if anything, came before Synergy Percussion? Finding virtually no documentation of the history of contemporary percussion in Australia only made me more curious, and in 2011 these questions became the focus of my doctoral research.
Original languageEnglish
TypeFeature article
Media of outputOnline magazine
PublisherResonate Magazine
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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