Burning questions, sound recording (radiophonic)

Document Type

Creative work

Publication details

Hannan, MF 2002, Burning questions, sound recording (radiophonic), Australian Music Centre, Sydney, NSW.

Available on Open Access


Research Background: This work bridges a number of approaches to sound art and postmodern music: it is a musique concrète work in the sense that it is collaged from a number of sections of a multi-microphone recording of a much longer live event earlier staged by the composer (Baby Grand Burning). Research Contribution: The work explores the cultural politics of auto-destructive music, and audience responses (both of shock and exhilaration) to the destruction of musical instruments. Many of these vocal responses can be identified in the recording. From a time-based artistic perspective the work is unique because its structure is underpinned by the degeneration of hi-fi sound into lo-fi sound, and by the transformation of acoustic sounds into electronic noise, as caused naturally by the microphone meltdown. From a postmodern intertextual perspective the work playfully juxtaposes sources as diverse as Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (appropriate for a moonlit evening event) and Annea Lockwood’s seminal piano destruction works of the 1960s. Research Significance: The composer believes that un-repairable musical instruments should be removed from circulation to prevent their unethical resale. Accordingly, the work has a strong social significance because it causes audiences to consider their attitudes towards the reasonable destruction of objects which are symbolically significant to their cultural identity. The work was commissioned by ABC Radio’s Listening room following a competitive proposal submission process.

Additional information

Live Performance of Creative Work - Music

Commissioned by the Listening Room (ABC Radio). First broadcast on ABC Classic FM 1 December 2004.

A link is available http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/earclips/07.htm to a Radio National Earclips archive page with streaming audio and composer statement.