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New possibilities in music with senior lecturer Toby Wren

Toby Wren is a musician and senior SAE lecturer with a Doctor of Philosophy. He reflects on the future of music and its creative possibilities.
SAE lecturer Toby Wren

His work is diverse and exemplifies the intersection of practice and theory, incorporating both practice-based and practice-led methodologies. We chat with him about the new and emerging possibilities in music and the creative process.

  • DAW operation (programming, synthesis, sampling, recording);
  • Artistic oversight.
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief in your creative work practice. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Most recently I questioned the idea of recording the music I make. In many ways, this was not a ‘successful’ project. I made an ‘album’ of compositions (a book of music scores), and of course, the audience for such an album is much smaller than for recordings.

We performed the music at a number of shows and the people that were there heard it the only time it could be heard. I like that idea and I prefer live music to recordings.

It has made me think about different formats for future albums.

List the top 3 attributes you appreciate in creative industry professionals.
  • Openness
  • Kindness
  • Fierceness
Toby Wren -
I think it's an exciting time for music production. The technology is good enough to be transparent and by that, I mean that we can make things and have it not be about the technology, but to see what new aesthetics and feelings are possible.
Name an emerging use of technology in the creative industries and why it’s a game-changer.

I think that the online environment is exciting and there is more we can do. At the start of the COVID pandemic, I ran an online jazz club for a couple of months, and it was a very intimate, vulnerable and immediate kind of experience – entering musicians’ homes to hear them play.

There are so many ways to use multimedia and the ‘data’ of our lives for art – just look at interactive documentaries like pinepoint or these www.sbs.com.au/features

Who inspires you?

This is Miles Okazaki, a guitarist from NY. He has a really disciplined and multilevel approach to making music. When he recorded the album ‘Work’ for Thelonius Monk’s centenary for example, he set up a recording zone in his home for a year, and recorded every tune Monk ever wrote.

Anything else?

I think it’s an exciting time for music production. The technology is good enough to be transparent and by that, I mean that we can make things and have it not be about the technology, but to see what new aesthetics and feelings are possible.

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