Catching up with Kaylie Melville

    For the final instalment of c3's curated series of talks, on this Wednesday 1 July, the gallery space acts as a testing site to explore live action and recent ideas in contemporary art practice. This program, Unpacking Sound, Text & Speech, examines the staging of sound-based works in gallery and non-gallery contexts, and the relationship between sound, language and visual representation. This program features live works by Emile Zile, Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, Speak Percussion’s Eugene Ughetti and their Young Artist in Residence, Kaylie Melville, and will be facilitated by Philip Samartzis.

    We caught up with Kaylie Melville to hear more about her upcoming performance Composition Machine #1 and her experience as Speak Percussion’s current Artist in Residence.

    What projects are you working on during your time as Speak Percussion's Young Artist in Residence? 
    As Speak Percussion's Young Artist in Residence, I've been really excited to work on a number of projects with living composers. Having the composer present in the room, especially when you're working on a brand new piece of music, tends to lead to a range of interesting discussions and musical experiments. I've found composers are usually interested to try a variety of sounds and approaches to see if there's a different way to capture their ideas, and there tends to be a really exciting and organic sense of collaboration. In the first half of this year, I've performed in the Australian premiere of Mark Applebaum's Composition Machine #1 (which I'll be performing on Wednesday night) and in Speak's concert for the Metropolis New Music Festival, showcasing new works by some of Australia's most talented emerging composers. Speak are now working towards a world premiere for one hundred performers. This performance will take place in October, so right now I'm learning about and helping with all of the organisation and planning that goes on behind the scenes.

    Can you tell us a bit about Speak Percussion's Young Artist in Residence program?
    My position as Young Artist in Residence with Speak Percussion is generously supported by a Professional Pathways Scholarship, funded by the Victorian State Government, Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. This scholarship helps to place recent arts graduates with an arts organisation, so that they can receive professional expertise in their art form. I'd participated in Speak's Emerging Artist programs for young percussionists in 2011, 2012 and 2014, and these programs are what really sparked my interest in contemporary music. Being able to spend a whole year working with Speak means I'm learning a lot about performances, project management and how an ensemble actually runs from day to day.

    Can you tell us a bit about the work you will be performing for c3 Talks?
    Mark Applebaum's Composition Machine #1 is a work in three movements that combines graphic notation and more traditional ways of writing music. The middle movement is the only 'composed' movement, where Mark has written for specific (albeit unusual) instruments to be played in a particular rhythm and a particular way. At the end of this section of music, the performer traces the instruments onto a sheet of paper to create a graphic score. Each shape and line needs to represent something (a sound, instrument, gesture, etc.), but Mark leaves it to the performer to choose their interpretation system. The performer has to take on the role of composer as well, making some big decisions about how the piece is going to work. In March this year Speak Percussion, along with their guests and 2015 Emerging Artists, gave seven simultaneous performances of this work throughout the South Melbourne Town Hall. I've always found it fascinating to see different people perform the same piece of music, since you get a sense of each person's unique approach. Composition Machine #1 was especially interesting in this regard since the performer is so invested in the creation of the piece and the interpretations are so different and personal.