4.12.22 – Judith Hamann

Thrilled to present a very special recording from the great Australian cellist and composer, Judith Hamann, whose work encompasses performance, improvisation, electro-acoustic composition, site specific generative work, and micro-tonal systems in their creative practice.

For this set, recorded at OTO in December 2022, Judith draws from process-based materials to do with humming and shaking, and from the start there is an immediate symbiosis between voice and body, body and instrument, with the sense that the cello is not so much being played as acting as extension of the body itself.

In the opening section, Judith seemingly crafts a one-person duet between voice and cello; a simultaneous call-and-response where the relationship between the caller and responder is ever fluid and shifting. There's a generosity here in the unselfconscious intimacy of the playing, inviting the audience to witness what at first seems to be as much personal ritual as public performance. The wordless vocalisations and bowed tones circle and weave around each other, as open and ethereal as gossamer threads in sunlight.

These threads hold weight, however, and as the hummed notes fall away a greater density starts to build upon the strings; harmonics and overtones pulsing in unison as shifting long notes gradually curl and fret underneath, with clusters of notes emerging and submerging with a restless momentum. Judith dextrously combines a richly evocative, ever-evolving tonality with a lightness of touch that doesn't so much belie the impressive technique displayed across both hands, as render it moot; virtuosity is fully evident here but virtuosity is not the point.

As the intricately woven tones gradually fragment and pull apart in the final few moments of the set, there is a palpable sense that the space of the room has subtly shifted, through a sound as weightless as the air, and as full of life.


Recorded by Billy Steiger
Mixed and mastered by Oli Barrett
Cover illustration by Judith Hamann

Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC


1. 4.1.22 - 32.07

Judith Hamann

Judith Hamann is a cellist and performer/composer from Narrm/Melbourne. They have “long been recognised as one of Australia’s foremost contemporary-music cellists” (RealTime Arts), and as a composer who “destroys the fiction of the musician who lives and works outside conventional parameters and puts in its place a series of compositions that are fundamentally humane” (WIRE). Their work encompasses performance, improvisation, electro-acoustic composition, site specific generative work, and micro-tonal systems in a process based creative practice.

In their recent research, Hamann examines the acts of shaking and humming as formal and intimate encounters; interrogates ‘collapse’ as a generative imaginary surface; and considers the ‘de-mastering’ of bodies, both human and non-human, in settler-colonial heritage instrumental practice and pedagogy. Their process-driven and embodied practice, considers the ways sound operates as a subject, object, and actant. Trained in contemporary classical performance, they frequently challenge the boundaries of their instruments, whether the cello, voice, or body, considering how sonic thresholds offer generative sites of instability and movement.

Judith likes working with and thinking-with other artists which has sometimes included people like Marja Ahti, Oren Ambarchi, Joshua Bonnetta, Dennis Cooper, Charles Curtis, Lori Goldston, the Harmonic Space Orchestra, Sarah Hennies, Yvette Janine Jackson, Alvin Lucier, Éliane Radigue, and La Monte Young. Judith’s work has previously been published by labels including Blank Forms, Black Truffle, Another Timbre, and Longform Editions. Judith is currently a fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart 2021-22 and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from UC San Diego.