Interview with Ron Nagorcka

Australian composer, didjeridu and keyboard player Ron Nagorcka (b. 1948) is a unique spirit in the Australian music world. He is composing music now for 40 years and remains as one of the most important figures in the Australian experimental music scene. R. Nagorcka is creating a large body of works for sampled bird and animal sounds, conventional instruments, and didjeridu, using complex intonation systems. The composer is living and working in Tasmania. Musicologist Ona Jarmalavičiūtė has inquired the experimental music maker about the structure and meaning of his creative process.

What are your thoughts about the structuring of the creative process?

My ideas generally come after I’ve written the first note. The exception is when words are involved – then I need to think more about how to approach it. i agree about post-composition.

What are your thoughts about this quote: “Works of art have been compared to icebergs: what is visible is but a small part of the whole. An artwork might seem to exist in splendid isolation, but that impression is misleading. Cultural products inevitably arise from a context, a submerged landscape that is often not easily accessible”?

Agree – and not easily accessible to me as a composer either.

Do you have certain patterns, structures when it comes to your creative process?

They vary and emerge as I write.

What is the most fun and the most boring part in the compositional process?

My compositions often involve the translation of microtonal scales into 12 tone form. very boring. Most fun is exploring the novel harmonies of just intonation.

Define inspiration – does it exist?

Yes but I can’t define it.

How do you usually create a new idea of a piece?

Start with a new scale or invent a rhythmic structure amongst other things. I do tend to work abstractly – but this does does not deprive the music of meaning. It always says things. With nothing to say I wouldn’t bother – but I have no idea what exactly I’m going to say or what it ultimately says. Such is music’s wonderful ambiguity!

How do you transform the abstract idea into material – sketch, notes?

The material becomes the abstract idea – or vice versa. it just happens.

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

Start work.

Can you see your finished product before you start it?

No way

Please describe your state of mind when you are creating something

Concentrated. I hate interruptions.

How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?

I listen to sequenced versions carefully many times and make many corrections until satisfied

Do you identify with your creative product? Explain.

Yes. Other musicians often say “I knew it was you”. i strive to be unique.

Thank you for the conversation!

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