Gallipoli 2015

100 years ago on the 25th of April the Gallipoli landings commenced. For the last 18 months I’ve been working on a project in combination with multiple artist entitled – Contemporary Gallipoli 2015. The exhibition is being held at Macquarie University Art Gallery, Sydney. This week I’ll be sharing some of the music I’ve composed for the exhibition. I will be sharing some insights into the compositional process. Feel free to comment and interact, there’s a lot to discuss…


Excerpt from Contemporary Gallipoli 2015 Exhibition Catalogue What is your fundamental response to creating the music for this exhibition? This is the question posed to me by Meredith Brice curator of this exhibition. To answer I really have to start where my intrigue of war and it’s effects started. I grew up in England in a house surrounded by fields, our home had (allegedly) once been home to German spies during the Second World War. Whilst reading comics (such as War, Commando as well as the Beano!) I would hear the controlled explosions of mines off Havergate Island. Down the road was the great Keep of Orford Castle where as a child I’d watch and on occasion take part in Medieval re-enactments. The Brave Heroes where always victorious, occasionally a brave but maybe 10% less heroic character would falter yet the good guys were always victorious. When I was 17 I went on a History field trip to the trenches and Battlefields of the First World War in France and Belgium. On the First day we lined up in a field which had the faint marking of where trenches had been dug, me and 18 of my friends and colleagues were each assigned a number and told to spread out along a trench line. Roughly 100 metres ahead was our goal, our teacher said, ‘you each represent 1000 men’ (truth be told it could have been 100 or 10’000 the exact number is not what stuck with me that day), ‘on my first command you will walk, when you hear your number called out you will stop where you are, Go.’ Within 30 seconds we had all stopped the furthest anyone had made it was about 60 metres. ‘You’re all Dead ….or Wounded.’ I remember looking around in this unfamiliar landscape and thinking ‘they’re all dead….. what were they thinking?’ Not the soldiers who had died many years before but my friends. The experience very much humanized my thoughts of war, not all my friends should have been on the battlefield that day, they weren’t all brave, heroic, trained soldiers, some were girls and vegetarian for goodness sake! In writing the music for Contemporary Gallipoli 2015  (which I feel very fortunate to be a part of), I have interpreted the artworks through my ‘musical’ eyes. Some musical works are ‘inspired’ from many artworks, some interwoven with a common thread or theme. Others are strongly influenced by an individual piece. ‘Letters’ for example was written with ’25 MOTHERS’ in mind but it is equally applicable to ‘The Broken Years’. Letters is a conversation, in my mind in the form of letters going to and fro, the writer and the recipient reading between the lines to what is actually there, trying to find the hidden meaning, the real emotion or thought. The performance is ‘clumsy’ in places but so is a conversation, when we converse we rarely perform a speech, we pause, we think, we stutter, we gather our thoughts, and so it is as I initially wrote and performed, one thought melding into many at the single touch of the record button. All the pieces are written from myself as an empathiser to the different moods or emotions the artworks/artists have sent me in. To explain to much would taint the direction in which the art can take you so I will speak no more on that. My heartfelt thanks to all the artists who have contributed to the exhibition and you for attending. This project has taken me in many directions both emotionally and physically, I sincerely hope you enjoy the music and in the least I hope it makes you think. What would I have done, what would I have felt, would I have cowered or conquered? 100 years on, I cannot help myself pondering over this race we call human – I do fear we shall finish last. Toby Roberts, March 2015

Epitaph – A Soundscape for Contemporary Gallipoli Art Exhibition 2015. Now available at the i-Tunes store.

Excerpts from the Album Epitaph ©2015

Bizarre Bazaar

This is my response to Stephen Copland’s foldout artist book. It made me think of the markets in Egypt where many Australians who were deployed to Gallipoli first went for training and acclimatisation, the strange and unfamiliar sights and aromas they would have experienced. Stephen’s work is very vibrant and I got a real ’60’s’ vibe from viewing, hence the ‘hazy’ guitar sounds.

The Hill

This is my ‘take’ on a newly enrolled soldiers thoughts, having been ‘signed up’ into a great adventure for glory and country, realising not all is as it was made out to be. Facing the hills and mountains of Gallipoli he follows his mates up the hill, nothing is what he envisaged, his mates fall, one by one…until he is left staring at the sky and reflecting on his childhood, his life, what could or could have been….

In the Dry of the Storm

Troopships entering landing site, questions in the soldiers’ minds laden with uncertainties and anticipation as they prepare to disembark. Hearing unfamiliar sounds. The rush of blood and charged emotions.

The Waler

Soundtrack to digital animation by Stephen Copland. The Waler was a bread of horse used by the Australians in World War I. The majority of the sounds use the transient rhythms of horses hooves at different tempi.

Staring at Time

Inspired by the works 4.30, 25th April 1915 by Susan O’Doherty and War and Flowers by Meredith Brice. Reflecting on so many lives lost in such a short space of time.

Copyright 2015. Stonehurst Studios.

Album Artwork Copyright 2015 ‘Angel Horse’ -Stephen Copland.

Photo Effy Alexakis. photowrite 2015

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