Document Type


Publication details

Hill, BJ 2010, 'Human machine music : twenty-first century models of music performance practice in an Australian contemporary music community', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright BJ Hill 2010


This project presents a multimedia performance and a written exegesis. It will focus on the way creative practice is embedded within a specific social context. This project will illustrate innovative creative processes used within an Australian contemporary music community. This community creates music known as ‘Live Electronica’. This community is sited within an emerging culture of electronic popular music performance that combines conventional musicianship and computerised musical instruments. This community of musicians are responding to social, economic and technological changes that have altered creative practices in relation to popular music performance.

‘Live Electronica’, is described in this project, as distinct from other forms of electronic music; that are first sequenced/composed on a computer and then reproduced or triggered on stage by a DJ or music performer. ‘Live Electronica’ is produced in real time by a group of musicians interacting on stage in front of an audience.

This project views computers as having performative limitations. Conventional computing devices, such as laptops, are designed for data entry rather than for musical communication. These machines require visual interaction; a sense that potentially impedes the flow of aural and tactile information that musicians use to make music within an interactive ensemble setting. In this context, the technology of computer music making acts to limit interactive possibilities between musicians.

This project utilises a model of practice-based research. This methodology aims to reflect on the connections between creative performances and the wider cultural context from the perspective of participant observer. Developed and presented within this project, is a portfolio of original creative works and a live multimedia music performance/webcast. This music performance/webcast is currently published on the web at It intentionally features excerpts from video interviews and conversations that were conducted while attending music festivals in Australia and overseas. These interviews form the focus of the visual element of the multimedia music performance.

Audio and video recordings (submitted on CD format) provide a chronological documentation of creative outcomes. Video recordings (submitted on dual layer DVD format) document the development and realisation of the final multimedia work.

The creative folio is supported by a written exegesis. This component is an adjunct and supporting document to the creative work. The written exegesis will discuss specific musical styles and compositions that influence the creative work. It will also discuss contemporary music performance, in relation to ensemble interaction and improvisation using computer musical instruments. Included in this exegesis, is a discussion of various social influences that can affect the formation of specific creative practices. Using this discussion, a model of creative practice within a specific social context will be developed.