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New media artist Robin Fox sings out about his latest experiment – a music performance where the microphone takes the melody.

As if in a parallel universe, the microphone becomes the instrument in experimental music performance, Transducer. Milk Bar Mag caught up with the man behind the madness, new media artist Robin Fox.

When asked what pulled him off centre in the music world, he claims to have always been driven by curiosity, and the development of ideas and thinking across all fields. “In many ways I find it bemusing that so much of the music making that occurs in our culture presupposes that nothing has changed since the late 1800’s,” he says, “and even in popular electronic forms that use new technologies, the actual musical structures, if you look closely, are basically nursery rhymes.”

“Imagine if we thought like this in a field like medicine?” he continues. “We’d be bloodletting and sticking leeches on everything.” So Robin likes to make music from experimentation, rather than formula. And he’s not alone – Speak Percussion’s percussionist and composer Eugene Ughetti will be right there alongside him in the Transducer arena.

The pair had pondered on making a work about the unorthodox instrument for some time. “Once we started discussing the fact the microphone is essentially a speaker working in reverse, and that both tools work at transducing energy between states, we had a central concept that would drive the composition,” says Robin.

I sheepishly admit the only sound I’ve ever heard a microphone and loudspeaker make together is the screech of feedback, or what Robin describes as “an intense situation” where the relationship spirals out of control. “It’s a bit like a runaway train or a wild animal, and if abused can cause extreme pain!” he laughs.

What he and Eugene (thankfully) do differently is harness this power for good, creating “beautiful and unexpected sounding situations” that range from intense and immersive sounds of objects in action to delicate sounds such as pebbles rattling in a speaker (which he assures me is, in fact, a delicate sound).

In another spin on the norm, the audience will be on stage too, smack bang in the heart of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. As Robin points out, it’s the best view in the house. “People don’t often get a chance to see work from this perspective at that venue,” he says. “Also, we like to maintain a sense of intimacy with the work so we like the audience relatively close.”

Robin promises that anyone interested in contemporary music of any genre will like what they hear. “It’s not for the faint hearted or unadventurous,” he warns, “but I certainly hope that it relays the sense of excitement, wonder and satisfaction that we felt making the work.”

Sidney Myer Music Bowl
1-2 August, 7.30pm
Tickets from $35.40

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