Deep Listening

This article was originally posted on Tunnel Number Five FACEBOOK page on 13 August 2016,
three days before the festival of underground music began.  1,198 people reached

From Tuesday to Saturday, here in Darwin, we have a chance to practice Deep Listening in a remarkable venue that enhances our ability to sit still and open our ears. Many audience members will find their eyes naturally closing to enable them to more fully enter the world of sound.

For each of the performers in Tunnel Number Five, their music is an expression of something deep and beyond the personal. In many ways, the act of creating or playing music is a spiritual act. Spirituality is not a topic often bandied about in the conversation of many modern folk, but it is something that lurks at the edges of our understanding of ourselves and our place within this small planet. And the arts, especially music, can give us a moment to connect with that inner place.

I was recently interviewed for Radio National and was asked why I find the acoustic space I am performing in so important. For me, and for all musicians – whether they play improvised and spontaneous music or composed and deeply rehearsed music – the way in which sound travels and bounces within a space… the way in which it is modified by that space – is as important as the way in which a collaborating musician responds to your sonic gestures.

When a musician walks into a space (especially one as resonant as Tunnel Number Five) she is acutely aware of the sonic reflections around her; the “aliveness” of the space… just as a visual artist will be concerned with the way in which light bounces off surfaces, creating impressions of colour; or the way a surfer is able to assess the refractions of ocean swell and wind-whipped waves around headlands.

Taking time to sit still, in the company of others, is a tradition that exists in every culture in various forms. There is a power in the act of communal stillness. Attending a concert of quiet music gives us this opportunity.

I have been following with interest various articles by and about Daly River elder Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann and her tradition of Dadirri: deep listening to the land. There is much to learn from the elders of this land. I am so excited that Jason Gurruwiwi is able to join us in Tunnel Number Five to sing his Yolngu songs.

Not long to go now…

Anne Norman
Artistic Director of  Tunnel Number Five: festival of underground music  


This photo taken after our last gig on August 20, 2016 in Darwin. Henk Rumbewas, Adrian Gurruwiwi, Anisha Stitfold, Sarah Hopkins, Jason Gurruwiwi, Anne Norman, Netanela Mizrahi, Ernie Gruner, Sebastian Bararrwanga.
Top Banner photos: LH photo: Netanela Mizrahi, Henk Rumbewas, Anne Norman, Sebastian Burarrwanga, Sarah Hopkins, Jason Gurruwiw, Anja Tait, Ernie Gruner after the first gig on August 16th, 2016. RH photo: Jason Gurruwiwi accompanied by Adrian Gurruwiwi on Yidaki during the third concert on August 18th, 2016.

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About anne norman

musician, shakuhachi player, author, poet, tea lover...
This entry was posted in Music, my meanderings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Deep Listening

  1. “…the “aliveness” of the space…” I wish I could be there! This is truly wonderful work that you all are doing – so dearly needed in these times of doubt and turbulence that many are experiencing. Thank you! best wishes for great success! tomas

    Liked by 1 person

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