YOU might see folk playing songs with hot water bottles and macadamia nuts at The Walyalup Weekend of Improvised Music in Fremantle – the first of its kind to be held in nearly 40 years.
A celebration of “free improvisation”, the two day festival at PS Art Space is home to all kinds of weird and wacky homemade instruments as well as the more traditional ones found in mainstream music.
The festival will feature performances by 29 established and emerging improvisers including Nathan Thompson, Sage Pbbbt, Annika Moses and Pedro Alvarez, as well as artist talks, improv sessions and a workshop by Sound Exploration Fremantle.
Formed in 2021 by locals Kate Makowiecka and Koral Ward, Sound Exploration Freo hold monthly improvisation workshops at Sullivan Hall in White Gum Valley.
Each session they invite along a different improviser who urges people to discard their 4/4 shackles and jump head first into the musical abyss.
A recent session with Bec Bradley drew on exercises from TaKeTiNa, a musical, meditative group process focusing on a conducive state of mind and body to allow flow and creativity while improvising.
“We listen, explore and create together freed from the constraints of formal music-making,” Ward says.
“We invite people of all ages and musical ability to bring their instrument or voice to join in a non-judgemental sound-making experience.
“We play literally for an hour or so before having a cup of tea and then continue for another hour or so.”
Ward says it’s liberating to create music from non-traditional instruments like “macadamia nuts, pieces of metal pipe and a hot water bottle” as well as analogue and electronic instruments created by the likes of Elizabeth Millar and Eduardo Cossio.
“What makes improvised music so exciting is the serendipity of what might emerge. It is also the feeling of being engrossed in the sound, and part of a supportive group,” Ward says.
Sound Exploration’s workshop at The Walyalup Weekend of Improvised Music will be hosted by Annika Moses, who specialises in alt/freak-folk music and co-presents Drivetime on community radio station RTRFM 92.
“The workshop will invite collective thinking by doing — asking what it means to have a voice and a body, and to use both in a group improvised setting,” Ward says.
“It is also an opportunity to think about hope, faith and congregation of a different kind; practicing group singing in a non-denominational context.
“Participants do not need to have any prior vocal training or experience in improvising – all levels of experience and vocal proficiency are welcome and encouraged – it is a workshop for anyone who loves to sing, wants to sing with other people, would like to experiment with using their voice in new ways, and is interested in thinking about what it means to sing together.”
Local record labels Tone List, and Mystery and Wonder will attend, as well as Western Australian New Music Archive, Outcome Unknown and NoizeMaschin.
Local improv/experimental shows have been held by groups like Tone List, but The Walyalup Weekend of Improvised Music is perhaps the first dedicated improv music festival to be held in the metro area since the Perth Festival of Improvised Music at Praxis Gallery in Fremantle in 1985.
To find out more about Sound Exploration Fremantle see facebook.com/soundimprofreo
The Walyalup Weekend of Improvised Music is at the PS Art Space, Pakenham Street Fremantle on June 24 and June 25. Tix at events.humanitix.com/the-walyalup-weekend-of-improvised-music.
The weekend will centre around two evenings of concerts, where artists play for the first time in new collaborations.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK