Tomlin|Fergus is the duo of Vanessa Tomlinson and John Ferguson. The research  objective is to expose commonality in seemingly disparate musical disciplines. The activities of a percussionist and an electronic musician may often appear dissimilar, but although each deploy radically different materials, their individual approaches to improvisation and sonic exploration are remarkably similar. This can be mapped onto John Bowers’ notion of ‘performance ecology’, a term used to describe the arena for activity created by a musician within their immediate surroundings, also foregrounding the importance of proximity and layout, and the value of openness towards a variety of instruments/technologies. 

Improvised ‘Duet’ at Made Now Music, Jugglers Art Space Brisbane, August 19th 2017

Tomlinson is inspired by intricate physical mechanisms and the sounding properties of resonant objects; Ferguson is obsessed with the ambiguity of digital technologies and the unpredictability of analogue electronics. Each sound maker deploys a varied ecology of instruments, the layout and arrangement dictates creative possibilities and impacts decisions around what to perform when. The music that this duo produce radiates from pre-composed situations and instrumental ecologies, the performance of and in which it is improvised. Although drawing from very different backgrounds, this duo has a shared love of extreme dynamic range, this brings a lively cohesion to every encounter. A variety of creative catalysts and strategies towards the real-time generation of convincing musical form are explored. However, embodied physical gesture, an open and curious ear, and a commitment to fully exploring the sonic possibilities of the materials at hand is always at the foreground.

Sonic Dreams by Vanessa Tomlinson. Performed by Vanessa Tomlinson and John Ferguson at Upper Partialism #13, Common House Brisbane, November 6th 2017.

This project navigates idiosyncratic approaches to new music and Tomlin|Fergus have collaboratively developed a variety of approaches to improvisation through five public concerts. Capturing this is an important undercurrent of the project, therefore high quality and close-up audio-visual documentation is prioritised, and this will form the basis for further scholarly activity.

Sonic Dreams at Music Technology Welcome Concert: New Instruments for Musical Expression? QCGU, March 5th 2018

The project culminated in a collaboration with Erik Griswold at the opening performance of Ecoacoustics Congress 2018, a four day peer-reviewed conference organised by the International Society of Ecoacoustics.

Sonic Dreams at Ecoacoustics Congress 2018, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, 24th June 2018