Composing Music for Rat Symphony

April 29, 2017

Earlier this month I had a great opportunity to start a new collaboration with my friend and fellow composer, Roman Benedict. We have begun work on the music for Matriark’s new show, Rat Symphony, which will have its first development showing at The Arts Centre Cootamundra in September 2017.


Our concept for the show is to tell a survival story for children, set in a subterranean world (you can read more about Rat Symphony here). All we know at this point is that the soundscape needs to be immersive, to give our audience a profound sensory experience. We all know there is a heightened sense of aural awareness that comes with being in the dark or underground, and we want our audience to have this awareness in the show.


Roman and I have experimented this month in writing music for string instruments as a defining feature of Rat Symphony. We have chosen strings because for us they represent the earthy sounds of the underground, but they can also be beautiful and mirror something of our human connection and stories of coming home.

            Pictured: Kat and Roman working together from the Matriark Creative Live/work space in Waterloo.


It has been an interesting experience for both of us, to create music from scratch with another person – this is outside of both of our practice to date. Roman currently resides in London, so when he was in Sydney this month we took the opportunity to meet up and experiment with sounds and music.


Roman came to my home studio in our current live/work space (provided by the City of Sydney: you can read about it here). Since the show has not yet been created on the floor, we didn’t have much to go on apart from the concept brief. We found the freedom of working at this stage of the show’s development to be quite fun and it allowed for a lot of creativity in the studio. Roman experimented with placing tuning forks on cellos and recording the strange buzzing sounds on different, resonant surfaces. In the sound design I expect that I will be able to layer these strange sounds into a soundscape to create an experience of being underground.

               Tools of the trade: just a few of the instruments and tech used in composing for Rat Symphony


We worked on some melodic ideas, starting with folk-style tunes and improvising until they morphed into other styles. It has been very enjoyable to create music in such an organic way, in an environment where you can ride off another person’s creativity. Already I feel like this collaboration has allowed us to develop unique ideas that are a blend of both of our styles.


Our idea is to use the recordings this month in a workshop setting with young people coming up at Shopfront Arts Co-op, as we begin developing the narrative ideas for the show. I can’t wait to see what unfolds!


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