Silent Beat

Silent Beat is a constantly evolving, experimental, performing and recording duo. It was established in 1999 to provide opportunity for collaboration with a range of creative artists. The duo is project based with work generally developing from improvisations and experimental work. Projects have included dance, film and theatre scores as well as soundscapes for galleries. It features a wide range of new music technology, a vast array of percussion instruments, various guitars and the voice.

The first Silent Beat was set-up in 1999 with guitarist/technologist/composer Paul Lawrence. Amongst the projects undertaken were performances, tours and recording with the Bonemap (dance arts) team of Russell Milledge and Rebecca Youdell, a film score for SBS TV (“Memory”) and two soundscape CDs.

The second Silent Beat with keyboardist/guitarist/technologist/composer Dean Ranel completed a film score for SBS TV (“Media Nomads”) in 2001.

The third Silent Beat with percussionist/technologist Ian Brunskill, created a major performance work, the eleven movement “Suite for two percussion and electronics” - an exciting crossovers between alternative and world music, techno and jazz. This work was performed four or five times in the period 2002 – 2006, including a collaboration with Dance North and choreographer Gavin Webber in 2005 for the See Hear Now Festival, and an extended one hour version, for the See Hear Now Festival in 2006.

The fourth Silent Beat, with saxophonist/composer Ulrich Krieger, created 3 songs in an alternative rock style, and gave concerts in Townsville and Brisbane, at the Powerhouse for Room 40 in 2006.

The fifth Silent Beat is an ongoing musical, technical and artistic relationship with musician/designer/photographer Macdonald Hamilton that began in 1975, and is still going 35 years later. Although there are very few performances, and none in recent years, the partnership remains strong.

Silent Beat 5
The following is typical of my relationship with Mac. In 1996 I invited him to the new studio at the University of Western Sydney where I was teaching. Mac - who had previously worked at Rode as a designer, had just built a new large diaphragm microphone and I was keen to test it with my voice. To set up something to work with I started improvising with a collection of drums and he found a chord progression that went with it. This then provided the “carpet” over which I was able to improvise a story straight out of a short newspaper article. It was just one of those fortuitous moments and it worked. That piece -
Charlie Schultz, can be heard by clicking on the title. A similar story took place with Mac on the soprano a piece for which I had a chord progression and Mac created a lovely melody. It too can be heard by clicking on the title.

Silent Beat 4
In 1983/84 while I was studying at the Hochschule der kunste in Berlin, I met Ulrich Krieger, who was also a student there. In 1989/90 I was once more living in Berlin and Ullrich was part of an ensemble called BICE (Berlin Improvising Composers Ensemble). I was immediately inspired by the concept of a collection of improvising composers - after all improvisation is simply fast composition, so composers, if nothing else should make good slow improvisers. (The idea appealed at the time….). Although not a member of the ensemble they were happy to have me write them a work which I did. Ulrich, although primarily a saxophonist, was also a didjerdoo player and as there was a flutist in the ensemble I was drawn to the idea of a piece for the extreme registers of piccolo and didjeridoo, with a lot of free sections for the players to improvise. But I digress. Move forward to 2006 and I took an opportunity to invite Ulrich, who was still based in Berlin, to come to Townsville for a residency. While in Townsville he gave a concert and I joined him on percussion in a couple of pieces, we wrote 3 pieces and travelled to Brisbane to give a concert for Room 40.

Two of the three pieces we created are included here and can be heard by clicking on the titles. I am fragile (with Ulrich Krieger on saxohone, Michael Whiticker - voice and synthesizer, and text by visual artist Michele Deveze). And The eroticism of embodiment (with Ulrich Krieger - saxohone, Michael Whiticker - voice, synthesizer, text by the visual artist Gerald Soworka )
After listening or at any point select back to return to this site.

Ulrich Krieger moved to the US in 2007/08 to take up a position at UCLA. He
is prominent as a performer in both the US and Europe In 2009
he formed a trio with Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music, and toured
extensively with it.

Silent Beat 3
Ian Brunskill was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and studied at the University of Calgary and University of Toronto, where his teachers included Russell Hartenberger. From 1990-1992, Ian was percussionist in the Band of the Ceremonial Guard, Canadian Armed Forces. Between 1993 and 1999, he studied and performed with David Thiaw (Senegalese drumming), Ravi Naimpally (classical Indian drumming), and Kwasi Dunyo (Ghanaian drumming). Since moving to Australia, Ian has appeared with Riley Lee, Graeme Jennings, Lara St. John, Julian Smiles and Peter Garrett, including the premiere of Ross Edwards’ The Water Circle and Australian premieres of works by Gavin Bryars and Henry Cowell. In recent years Ian has performed with Dancenorth and composer Iain Grandage, Mohamed Bangoura, lap steel guitarist Mike Cooper and at the Australian Percussion Gathering. Ian is based in Townsville where he works as a freelance percussionist and teaches with Education Queensland.

Silent Beat 1 and 2
Paul Lawrence and Dean Ranel had been students of mine while I was
lecturing in Composition at the University of Western Sydney (1994 – 1996).
Dean lived at Mission Beach - some 250km north of Townsville in the late 90s
and early 00s, and we took the opportunity to collaborate on a film project in
2003. I invited Dean to Townsville for a week to compose and record the
score for “Media Nomads” with me.
Paul lived in Sydney but travelled to Townsville a number of times between
1999 and 2001 to work on projects with me.

Included here are examples of works we improvised in the music studio I set up at James Cook University where i was lecturing in Composition and Music Technology.
After listening or at any point select back to return to this site.
Delicate Listening (Michael Whiticker - voices and percussion. The text was inspired by a field trip amongst the ruins of the Forts on Magnetic Island.)
Portrait of a photographer (I recorded photographer Glen O’Malley at work on a field trip to Toomba (charters towers) and later created a guitar and Changgo (korean drum) part to go with his “performance”.
A map of bones (Michael Whiticker - tanso (korean flute) and percussion)
Dry creek bed (Michael Whiticker - percussion)
Wail (Paul Lawrence - electric guitar feedback, Michael Whiticker - drums
City debris (Michael Whiticker - piano interior and percussion)
Rubbish (Michael Whiticker - found sounds)