Peter Mummé resumé .. 2019

I have been listening, learning, thinking, musicking, recording, travelling, considering, writing .. for over 70 years now.

lots of experiences socially, musically, spiritually .. I prefer being older and (sometimes) being able to appraise an event, a situation, an idea .. without reacting quite so much in usual habitual ways. 

 

My working methodologies and 'life views' have become increasingly co-incident; I suppose that, as we find relationships, stories, experiences, sounds, music, nature, culture and philosophies in life - to which we respond, so it slowly dawns that this whole process might actually be life !

 

Most of my current interests are to do with broad spiritual philosophy and practice, Aboriginal culture-life and lots of music and sounds making .. all have merged into a daily mix of happy possibilities !

My earliest memories of 'making music' - at age of about 5-7 - are of making up pieces on a pub piano whilst looking at pictures in story books and of tossing stones into (half empty) rain water tanks - then listening to the echoes and making up ‘radio programs’ by adding my noises into the reverberations .. perhaps not much has changed !

 

Equally held are the smells of eucalypt trees in dry bush, pepper trees, magpies chortling, sheep bleating, contact with aboriginal kids .. this was late 1940s-early 1950s in country Queensland 

 

Education seemed to me to have been little more than a passing time activity, as did college study (of electronics and music), early overseas travel, much family association, businesses (electronics, manufacture, recording), music study ..  

I have tried 'work' in many varied situations .. government dept., retail shops, grave digger, dance class piano player, designer and builder of audio and electronic equipment, run recording studios, managed a ‘new music centre’, touring groups, music composition, commercial (sound track) production

Inklings of a broader world were emerging (thru' mid 1970s); environmental and nature sounds, the relationships between sounds, musics, people, life .. location sound recording,  compositional techniques, sounds as music, social changes, of moving away from the city (Melbourne) .. trying to 'find space' in which to consider what was really of value

 

I had a portable tape recorder - sort of on permanent loan, plus been given a good quality microphone that had been found left in the mud after an MCG footy game that still worked .. with these I began exploring the world of nature and enviro sounds recording

We were offered a (Aust film commission) grant in 1978 to make a radio piece based on these sounds

 

At the same time I was working as a piano player at Ballet Victoria for dance classes .. the contemporary classes were fun, the classical ones not so much

There was a touring contemp dance group formed from the fun parts, we added lighting and a few recorded sounds to a program of new dance pieces - with Arthur Turnbull choreographing and leading - using piano and synthesiser music

 

There were many music 'sketches' being invented whilst playing so much, some were written out, many came from improvisational situations that (if seeming ok) were worked out sufficiently well so as to be remembered 

 

Coincidently, I was swapping recording time in a friend's recording garage by designing and building an audio mixing desk for him; I managed to record a couple of music pieces ok but in the middle of which I started hearing frogs and cricket recordings, these inadvertently mixed up with music tracks - due to using the same recording  tape over and over .. this proved somewhat revelatory 

 

Some of the simpler music pieces - that had developed from the dance class playing and group work - began to include some of the enviro sounds; this developing a process of appropriate pitching (of instruments) and editing/filtering of sounds to get them sounding ‘clear’; I also found that some of the new synthesisers becoming available offered tonal colour explorations - and relatively easy ‘pitching and scaling’ capabilities - these were very useful .

I was making cassettes of these pieces by now, and a particular selection of pieces created the base story for a children's dance performance .. this was called 'Eucalypt', a mix of Australian nature sounds and sound inspired music pieces - and resulted in a new music cassette being made (1983) 

This, somewhat surprisingly, was played all over the (Melb) ABC radio, sold 1000s of copies and influenced much of the commercial work that had chanced my way .. there were soundtracks for Audio Visual presentations, product 'release' shows, films, videos, puppet shows 

 

We introduced enviro sounds,  especially local nature sounds, into all kinds of programs, where they were treated as being part of the music .. at times the sounds were the music

Some of the pieces won prizes .. 'Veronica takes a bath', 'Magritte' and 'Coranderrk' (cd)

The 'Veronica' piece was originally made as a 'water environment' sound backdrop for a bath towel display .. it was entered un-altered into a Sydney radiophonic competition

 

Whilst the fringe commercial work was fun, mainstream commercial work was problematic for me; whilst it does demand some technical ability and dead-line meeting (that I think can be beneficial) we inevitably collide when presumptions of marketing conformities infringe and leave one wondering .. I’m seeing signs in studios saying 'time is money' and being told to recreate an 'orgasm feel' for a (cheese/insurance/new car) advertisement !

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I was becoming increasingly aware of our indigenous presence; whilst this was largely ignored (by mainstream) and certainly an unknown aspect of ‘Australia’, I was finding that, with all the nature recordings and resultant music being made, the links between my small time activity - and (my awareness of) the huge relationship culture that formed the base of our Indigenous world view - was emerging, big time

 

We discover that traditional song is 'also' about birds and also about country .. but goes way beyond the tacit representation of these aspects in 'second-hand' technique .. they are (parts of) a broader dynamic experiencing of life as being everyday life

 

Much allied musical and collage work - and increasing social engagement - continued through this time

A series of ‘dawn chorus soundscapes’ was made thru’ 1993 for ABC radio Melbourne; these created a big ‘arc’ of recorded enviro sounds - made at dawn - sweeping across and around the city 

Installation sound and music production include the Cairns international airport in 1997; 

2001 Scar Tree Melbourne city square; Healesville sanctuary exhibit spaces

 

We made a submission to the ABC about their creating a new radio network (RN) in about 1990 .. we were calling it ‘an accessible australia wide radio service that reflects the broadest views of australian life back to the whole country’


Greater engagement with traditional culture had emerged by late 1980s; we made a soundtrack for an exhibition of (most) expensive leather coats that had been hand painted with (Arnhemland) motifs of bird and animal totems .. the artists were in attendance, seemed puzzled - and cold, the venue was a posh French restaurant in Melbourne

This same soundtrack was released along with another video soundtrack on 'Island' cd, 1990

 

'Coranderrk' is an aboriginal settlement near Healesville near the wildlife sanctuary in Victoria, a cd of new music and sounds from here - also called ‘Coranderrk’ - was also made thry' 1990-1 too; this received radio play, sales, talks .. we did a broadcast on ABC FM that drew ‘a record listener response' 

Actor David Gulpilil was visiting both Coranderrk and the Montsalvat artists centre in Eltham thru’ late 1989-92, he  began arriving at my in-house studio (located half-way between these places) wanting to record traditional songs with his group This became an ongoing event for the next few years and eventually introduced a couple of traditional song-men from mid arnhemland in 1993 .. Bobby (Bunnunggurr)  and Jimmy (Djamunba), this meeting blossomed

 

We record traditional songs, start to hear about the songs 'at source', song stories about birds, places, language, relationships .. we all visited Darwin and Arnhemland - Yolngu nations - in 1993, taking a couple of 'mixes' of trad songs (sung in language) and (pretty rough) contemporary instrumentations of them .. they seemed to work ok, they elicited an unexpected response, the Yolngu loved them, white fellas were technically impressed, but puzzled and  generally not very interested

My first visits to Ramingining in 1993 were a puzzle for me; I recognised the environmental sounds, the birds, the colours, the light .. but felt as though I was visiting a different planet, one operating within an ‘alien’ (to me) world view 

There were a couple of ‘overviews’ afforded that pointed to reasons for this feeling  .. 

One was the spontaneous community joy generated by impromptu social event and ‘celebration’

a second was of seeing arnhemland from the air .. winding rivers, age old escarpment, horizons, creation spirits .. images invoking feelings quite unlike the usual rationales .. here were the visual manifestations of the songs we were still singing .. big picture stuff, timeless, hints of all kinds of (usually hidden) spirit) connections being revealed

 

(this is being written now 25 years after this event .. there has been a great deal of thought and consideration occurring between then and now!)

Darwin festivals, more (privately subsidised) recording, tours, a couple of new songs followed .. 

The ‘Waak waak jungi' cd was released by Festival records in 1997; a 'shared mixing of cultures’ Djamunba called it ..

it worked pretty well, was recognised as worthy but flopped as a selling product .. there was almost nil interest from mainstream, a lot from Yolngu (the cd was bootlegged big time !) - and a lot from the Ainu community in Japan .. 

We had met Oki Kano (touring Ainu musician with Tonkori) whilst travelling, he set up a 1998 tour for waakwaak to go to Japan 1998 - this was wonderful

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In Tokyo; JD, BB, Oki Kano, P.Mil (dec)

There is a current (2018-9) re-discovery of Waak waak djungi's music underway; a re-mastered compile has been released as ‘Waak waak ga Min min’ on CD and LP; it is receiving dj, radio and internet play and lots digital downloads .. the most often heard question is ‘why do we not know about this amazing culture/music/story’ ?

Submissions have continued .. they include Arts, ‘both ways’ combining of old culture with appropriate new technology; constitution reform and recognition; RN again ‘have you listened to any ABC radio recently’ ?

Extended stay in Ramingining, central arnhem, living with JD on ‘Walkabimmirri’ outstation; lots life, learning, listening, driving people around; later produce program for ABC radio on traditional song

2007:  ’Ramingining traditional song and dance’ DVD made for the (Yolngu) community            

Starting out as a ‘masters of ceremony’ project, a community DVD was eventually produced 

2012-15  I ‘retreated’ for full time study and working as amanuesis with a domiciled Tibetan monk at Rimé Buddhist Centre, Belgrave, Vic .. continue to work on making sense - in terms that make sense - of these studies, long consideration and adapting

Seems we ultimately need a 'direct push' by/from a totally compassionate 'holder of magic' .. 

2017 Referendum council submission published

2018 'Care for country paper' produced

2021 (Australian Indigenous) 'Voice to parliament' submission

lots new music, soundscapes, song analysis, writing texts, visits and talking with my Yolngu family 

See new music, nature's songs and stories on the navigation tabs above

PM

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