Combining music and art: The Colour Wheel guitar orchestra performance

Combining music and art: The Colour Wheel guitar orchestra performance

Staff and students from RMIT’s College of Vocational Education (VE) gave audiences a preview of an electric guitar performance composed by Jim Moginie from Midnight Oil.

Examining the theories of Wassily Kandinsky and Arnold Schoenberg, The Colour Wheel explores the attempts over history to prove the connection between music and colour, and answers the age-old question of whether the power of music can be a form of abstract art.

The production saw students from the Diploma of Live Production & Technical Services and the Advanced Diploma of Music (Sound Production) all working together in a unique Australian production staged in The Capitol – RMIT’s iconic theatre. 

Driven by the electric guitar orchestra featuring four College of VE teachers, The Colour Wheel is an experiment in synaesthesia – the process of hearing sound and seeing colours in your mind; or seeing colour and hearing music. 

24 October 2022

Share

Above: VE teachers – John Phillips, Rosie Westbrook, Greg Long and Paul Thomas – all performed in the guitar orchestra. Above: VE teachers – John Phillips, Rosie Westbrook, Greg Long and Paul Thomas – all performed in the guitar orchestra.

VE student Olivia Zammit is studying the Advanced Diploma of Music (Sound Production) and said that working on the project has helped her prepare for a role in industry. 

“It’s completely different to learning in the classroom. It’s a pressure cooker environment of live production, where you need to be able to set up the stage and communicate with other departments that you’re working with – which is essential for working in the industry,” said Zammit.

Above: VE students from the Diploma of Live Production & Technical Services behind-the-scenes in their first staged performance at The Capitol, as part of their Work Integrated Learning placements.  Above: VE students from the Diploma of Live Production & Technical Services behind-the-scenes in their first staged performance at The Capitol, as part of their Work Integrated Learning placements.

While the experience will be different for each person, the performance evokes emotions associated with certain colours just like Kandinsky believed – Green was peaceful, like the middle notes of a violin; Light blue represented a flute; White was all the colours at once as a total polyphony; and, yellow was the result of hearing sharp trumpets. 

Primarily working in the sound team for the project was Josh Suhaven, also studying in the Advanced Diploma of Music (Sound Production). 

Suhaven helped with the technical elements of the live production and says he was drawn towards the sound of black. 

“My favourite is the track ‘Black’, because there’s no melody and it’s all rhythm and the sound of guitars,” said Suhaven. 

“It [the track] feels like the culmination of all of us – as the sound team, lighting and the whole production – coming together.” 

Above: Live Production teacher Deb Hatton was key producer and assisted by Program Coordinator, John Phillips, and teachers Greg Long and Josh Ryan-Barker. They supervised the very skilled students in the behind-the-scenes of the production, from producing and lighting, to sound and photography. Above: Live Production teacher Deb Hatton was key producer and assisted by Program Coordinator, John Phillips, and teachers Greg Long and Josh Ryan-Barker. They supervised the very skilled students in the behind-the-scenes of the production, from producing and lighting, to sound and photography.

Composer Jim Moginie, who’s had a lifetime of playing electric guitar, said the project first came to fruition in 2014 when he took on the Artist in Residence position at Campbelltown Art Centre.

When talking about The Colour Wheel, Moginie shared that he’s hoping the complete immersion in intense music and colour can take the listener into that spiritual place, where the soul resides. 

“The electric guitar is capable of all the same textures. Here [in The Colour Wheel], it is stripped of all its rock cliché,” said Moginie.

The Colour Wheel will be playing to audiences in September 2023.

 

Story: Nicole Martine

24 October 2022

Share

  • Arts and culture

Related News

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.