Cat Hope “Decibel” CD


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This is an album of compositions by Australian composer Cat Hope, performed by the Decibel new music ensemble. The ensemble has provided a collaborative environment where Hope’s composition has evolved, and the group is made up of close colleagues with skills as musicians, composers, producers, sound engineers and software programmers. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this group in Hope’s development as a composer. For example, it was within this group that the Decibel ScorePlayer software was developed, software that Hope uses to present her animated graphic notations. Recording engineer and Decibel member Stuart James led the first recordings of Hope’s work, and as a performer in the ensemble, Hope was able to become intimately familiar with the repertoire of her favourite composers, including works by composers in the ensemble itself. The ensemble premiered some of her earliest notated words. Sharing a common interest in commissioning and performing Australian new music, the group has toured Australia, Europe, Japan and Malaysia, committing to residency periods where they would develop new works, performance approaches, software and concert programs. Currently, Decibel’s six performance members are spread between the Australian cities of Perth and Melbourne.

All the pieces on this album use the Decibel ScorePlayer, a tablet computer application that animates and coordinates the reading of networked graphic scores. In Chunk, it sends coordinates the from one page of the score to a Disklavier and the other to the live pianist on a second piano. In Wanderlust, different audio recordings can be inserted to the score. In Shadow of Mill, the sub tone is played from the score itself, and Majority of One includes a notated part for room feedback. Some tracks on this album were recorded in real time over the Internet between Perth and Melbourne, cities some 3400 kilometres from each other, facilitated by software developed by Decibel member Aaron Wyatt.

Cat Hope is an Australian based composer, performer and academic. She is a classically trained flautist, pop vocalist and improvising noise bassist. Her 2017 Hat[Art]Hut monograph CD ‘Ephemeral Rivers’ won the German Record Critics prize that year, when Gramophone magazine called her “one of Australia’s most exciting and individual creative voices.” She is a Civitella Ranieri and Churchill Fellow whose work has been discussed in books such as Hidden Alliances(Schimana, 2019), Sonic Writing (Magnusson, 2019), Loading the Silence (Kouvaris, 2013), Women of Note (Appleby, 2012), Sounding Postmodernism (Bennett, 2011) and a range of other periodicals. Her music has been played by the BBC Scottish Orchestra, ELISION and range of ensembles worldwide. She is supported by her role as Professor of Music at Monash University in Melbourne.

Decibel are a new music ensemble that focus on the integration of acoustic and electronic instruments in chamber music performance, founded by Hope in Western Australia in 2009. They are world leading interpreters of animated graphic notations and pioneer digital score formats for composition and performance. This includes the ongoing development of the Decibel ScorePlayer, an iPad application for the coordinated reading of graphic notation, now used by music ensembles and in music institutions internationally. Whilst rooted in the western art music tradition, Decibel aim to remove stylistic boundaries in their commissioning and performance approaches.

The ensemble has collaborated with composers such as Eliane Radigue, Werner Dafeldecker, Agostino Di Scipio, Alvin Curran, David Toop, Marina Rosenfeld, Lionel Marchetti and Johannes S. Sistermanns, and worked with iconic Australian composers Jon Rose, Andree Greenwell, Alan Lamb, Ross Bolleter, Warren Burt, Ros Bandt, Erik Griswold and Anthony Pateras. They have commissioned over 80 new works since their inception in 2009, over 50 of these from Western Australian composers.”