Sound artist, musician and School of Music student Benjamin Drury

Photo of Benjamin Drury and double bass player Rohan Daskia
Thursday 4 May 2017

" I wanted to learn as much as I could about music because it’s so fascinating – it’s almost incomprehensible how music works. "

I started playing music in high school. I was really into punk rock and I started playing guitar so I could play in punk bands. Eventually I got good enough to start doing other things and those things became interesting to me. I wanted to learn as much as I could about music because it’s so fascinating – it’s almost incomprehensible how music works. How making sound transfers in people’s brains to these things that we give meaning to – how that whole process works is of interest to me. And the way different people react to different things. I guess like with any art, it is an attempt to understand and be understood.

I’ve only had one show where other people have been involved, which was the launch of my CD. Normally I use a combination of a laptop and some hardware that lets me manipulate the sounds that come out of my laptop. And then I also use a bass guitar with a loop pedal. So there is a variety of sound sources but a lot of it is based on looping and repetition and subtle change over time.

I played at the Tilde New Music and Sound Art Festival in Melbourne which was fun. And I did an installation at a festival called ElectroFringe, which was interesting because it was the first time I had ever worked in an installation setting. I do that a lot more in Canberra now. I built an instrument people could try out. It was a coffee table with a drawer in it, which I drilled into and put speakers inside and attached strings to the top of it. So the string sound came out of the body of the instrument, rather than coming from an external amplifier. It was cool to set something up and let it go and watch how people interacted with it.

From that, I ended up building an installation called Modified Furniture, where I had two bedside tables, each with three drawers in them, and each drawer had a speaker and an amplifier and a little device that played a loop of music. When you closed the drawer you could barely hear any sound at all but when you opened it up it really projected. So people were able to come along and pull out different drawers and get different combinations of texture and sound. So it was giving them agency in how they listened to a piece of music.

I have a piece in the ‘Within Without’ event in the Canberra International Music Festival, called Lontananza, which is a Spanish word meaning ‘off in the distance’. It’s being played in the James Turrell installation in the garden of the National Gallery of Australia, which is an open-topped shrine-like building surrounded by pools of water. The piece will be played at sunset, so you will be able to see the effects of the light and shadow on the water as you listen to the piece, which will be played by double bassist and ANU School of Music graduate, Rohan Dasika.

Benjamin Drury
Bachelor of Music, majoring in Composition
ANU School of Music

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