Tinkling the crystal

• Louise Devenish. Photo supplied.

CRYSTAL glasses are just some of the everyday items used to create haunting music by award-winning WA percussionist Louise Devenish.

Twelve glasses are mounted on stands that vibrate and produce a “high, tinkly” sound as they slide over a bass drum.

“It’s lovely to use glasses this way,” Devenish says.

“They’re the sort of thing many of us have sitting in cabinets at home.”

She notes two of them were a 21st birthday present for her husband.

“Six others have come from my mother and grandmother’s cabinets. The rest have come from op shops.”

In her latest show, Sheets of Sound, Devenish combines traditional percussive instruments with everyday items to create a pleasant cacophony.

“Styrofoam, for example, when suspended in a particular way, is used to amplify the wide range of overtones found in a simple triangle.”

Devenish commissioned composers Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh and Matthias Schack-Arnott to write “new-music” for her latest show.

Hsieh’s piece involves suspending large sheets of tracing paper in front of speakers to create a strange noise.

Others sheets are laid on the floor and grains or beads are poured on them to conjure an ocean-like sound.

“We often think of paper as being just something to write or draw on, but there is a range of sonic properties in paper too,” Devenish says.

“The idea is to explore those properties musically and performatively using acoustic percussion performance techniques, as well as microphones and electronics.

“At the end of the work there is even an origami performance.”

A passionate advocate of new and Australian music, Devenish has commissioned more than 50 percussion works, and her performances have been described as “stunning virtuosity”.

You can catch Sheets of Sound at PICA in Northbridge, Friday June 28 and Saturday June 29. Tix at pica.org.au.

There’s a pre-show talk by Devenish at 5pm on the Saturday (free for ticket holders).


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