The Western Australian New Music Archive: Performing as remembering

Document Type

Book Chapter


Sydney University Press

Place of Publication

Sydney, New South Wales


Harris, A., Thieberger, N., & Barwick, L.


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / School of Communications and Arts




Hope, C., MacKinney, L., Green, L., Travers, M., & Mahoney, T. (2015). The Western Australian New Music Archive: Performing as remembering. In Harris, A., Thieberger, N., & Barwick, L. (Eds.), Research, records and responsibility: Ten years of PARADISEC (pp. 209-225). Sydney, New South Wales: Sydney University Press.

Book Available here.


'New music' refers to experimental, exploratory music. The definition adopted for the Western Australian New Music Archive (WANMA) is that used by the Australian Music Centre to define 'composition in sound'. It includes notated composition, electroacoustic music, improvised music (including contemporary jazz), electronica, sound art, installation sound, multimedia, web and film sound, and related genres and techniques. The curation of WANMA is guided by, and confronts the challenges presented by, such a broad definition, with a focus on constructing a representative canon of Western Australian new music history from 1970 to the present day. A drawback of the Western Australian music collection at the State Library of Western Australia

(SLWA), and indeed of many other Australian music collections (such as that at the Australian Music Centre and UWA's Callaway Collection) is the limited nature of the music genres and artefacts included. In the past, archives and libraries have cultivated paper scores and, in some cases, analogue recordings of performances of these scores. Music has moved beyond these paradigms and into areas of improvisation (non-notated music), electronic music, installation (which has physical and visual elements as well as sonic aspects) and applied music (for dance, film and on the internet). WANMA includes materials that reflect contemporary recognition of improvisation and sound art as composition, and therefore the role of recordings as an alternative score, and video as an important documentation device for sound art. As with other contemporary information, WANMA reflects the increasing movement of information into the digital realm, either as digitised or born-digital materials, and seeks to provide both digitisation and digital preservation of materials, allowing for both ongoing availability and access.

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