When I was at uni, way too many moons ago, I often hung out with the music students. One in particular, who would share the progress of his studies and the stories of his music lectures with me. He was working on his latest piece for assessment. He didn’t think much of the lecturer for that subject and was particularly disparaging about this latest assignment. The brief was to go out and listen to the sounds in the environment and create a piece of music with those sounds. My friend thought it the silliest idea and approached the whole task with contempt. He eventually submitted a piece called a “Symphony of Sparrow Farts”, to make his point. 

I thought it very funny at the time but now all these years later I wonder if in fact that lecturer was really onto something.

I’m not sure that anyone with hearing intact could live here without being acutely aware of the sounds in the environment. I’m frequently distracted from my daily tasks by the trills of a nearby bird, then straight on top of that the frogs in the pond having their staccato say and then before those notes are played out, the Bela Bartok discord of the crow coming in from somewhere way back in the orchestra. If only I had the composer’s skills myself and was back in that lecturer’s classes… Alas, I can’t see myself putting together anything that the Melbourne Symphony might deem suitable for their next concert season, but I have been frequently moved to make marks that represent the sounds here… a visual representation of the sound scape…my Birrarung Symphony in Bird Minor.

My little aforementioned project, the woven self portrait, includes that sound scape. While I intended to complete it here I’m not feeling confident that will happen. Not here anyway. The day before yesterday I decided I would have to recreate a whole section, necessitating more rice glue… not easy to get in these parts. Today I’ve decided to soldier on with what I’ve done and see what happens. If I tell you I’m going to weave two big painted panels together, it’s not giving too much away, since I’m still not quite ready to reveal all. 

…A new frog has just entered the symphony with such a racket….

I’ve lost contact with my music student friend. But, if by chance I were to bump into him again and had the opportunity to tell him about my residency here, I’d let him know that I haven’t heard a single sparrow fart.