In the most recent episode of Collaboratory, “Music, Co-Creativity and Cultures”, we hear from musician and academic, Kim Cunio who reflects on the co-creative musical projects that he has been involved in and shares insights into the responsibilities that different cultural roles and relationships require of us.
In the episode, Kim mentions the processes and challenges associated with transferring his co-creative musical approach into organisational and institutional settings such as universities. We invited Kim to write a blog post to discuss the initiatives and programs that he and the School of Music at the Australian National University (ANU) have implemented to foster a collaborative musical space .
“With music, even for composers, nothing exists till it’s made in sound in real time. Even a recording is sound made in real time, so even if it’s done once for a recording, this process of people coming together and battling their egos has to happen every time music is made. Examples of things like orchestras or bands or quartets or anything like that. Possibly, the best example I know of is the gamelan. If we think of the Javanese or Indonesian gamelan, we think this has up to 30 players who are not even just playing different instruments together. They’re playing one instrument, so they have a conceptual space that they’re all actually a part of one living whole.“Kim Cunio – “Music, Co-Creativity and Cultures” Collaboratory Podcast, December 2022
I’ve been thinking in recent years that there is a space of collaboration that makes musicians appear greater than they normally are, because it shows the almost magical ability of the creative musician to distil time and thought to the larger world.
To make that space more inhabitable we need to do some radical things in music school; to have a lot more First Nations leadership, to follow the research on neuroscience and creativity, to get music into the places where it is most needed, and to say yes to a suite of co-creative activities across the disciplines. It is a joy to share how some of this is happening at the ANU.
Neuroscience tells us actually about this concept called the “Lull”, and you know, people like Liane Gabora, a really interesting researcher in this space, talks about the fact that often our best work is when we come to terms with the fact that we actually don’t know what we’re doing on some level. And I think musicians are quite good at knowing that they don’t know what they’re doing. Isn’t that a funny thing to say? But they know that there’s a gap there and they’re not scared of the gap. Whereas I think when we are really in our intellectual selves, as soon as we see a gap, we’re scared of it, and we want to fill it out with the most clever response we can make. But musicians are telling the stories of the world as it truly is all the time.Kim Cunio – “Music, Co-Creativity and Cultures” Collaboratory Podcast, December 2022
Some of the things we have now at the ANU School of Music are a First Nations composers program, Ngarra Burria, led by Chis Sainsbury, our First Nations recording studio, Yil Lull studio, and much more. For my part, I am learning to collaborate in new spaces and my recent Sounds of Space project has released its third album Suncoscious recently. Listen here to see how music and science can meet as equals and offer an embodied listening experience.
Really though my life is watching the artistic practice of a remarkable group of musicians and trying to tell their story, which is that a music school can change and be ahead of the cultural curve.
To hear more from Kim Cunio on co-creation in the musical space, be sure to check out the episode of Collaboratory, “Music, Co-Creativity and Cultures”
Featured image (source): Australian National University, Llewellyn Hall