Forces in Music - From music to sound to energy to music: a deeper ecology

When:22 Feb 2019, 3pm - 5pm
Venue:Robert Webster Building (G14), Studio 334, UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Douglas Kahn (UNSW) & Peter Blamey


If John Cage argued that all sound can be music, and if sound is but one form of energy among others, then what of energies and music?

In this lecture Douglas Kahn investigates how composers and artists have engaged the sounds of natural radio; the electromagnetic energies of the Earth first heard twenty years before Marconi. Kahn discusses the concept of energy music as it applies to contemporary music; including sonic arts, contemporary classical, and free jazz. This provocative lecture raises questions regarding the nature of performance, composition and musical practice.

Direct links are also formed between the nature of sounds and energies, and the health of our planet. The lecture will be followed by a performance by Peter Blamey that explores the transformation of electromagnetic energy into sound. To conclude Alister Spence will interview Dougals Kahn and Peter Blamey seeking to link this field of sonic exploration to conventional musical practices. There will be time for audience questions.


Douglas Kahn is Professor of Media and Innovation, National Institute for Experimental Arts, UNSW Art & Design. He is an historian and theorist of media arts, sound and music in the arts, energy in the arts, and science in the arts from the late-19th Century to the present, with an emphasis on the traditions of the avant-garde, and experimentalism.

Peter Blamey is a Sydney-based artist and musician. His practice is accomplished with a minimum of means, exploring the interconnected themes of energies and residues: reimagining and recasting our everyday encounters with technologies and the physical world

Interviewer: Dr Alister Spence, Lecturer at UNSW, School of Arts and Media. Composer and improviser.


Forces In Music: Music Masterclasses 2019

An opportunity to hear from and listen to some of the most experienced local and international music practitioners and thinkers. The Forces in Music masterclasses supports students specialisations, but everyone is welcome from the wider UNSW community and beyond.

COMING NEXT: Composing in the 21st century: a conversation with composer Elena Kats-Chernin

Friday 22 March 2019

Find out more and see the full program here.

Enquiries: Alister Spence,


Finding us

Robert Webster Building is located mid-way off the UNSW main walkway. Map Reference G14. Cinema 327 is located on the third floor.


More information on getting to UNSW.

Download a campus map. (PDF)

Supported by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

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