Composers Lisa Cheney and Peggy Polias assess the current state of composition.


How do you listen to new music? Can you name an Australian composer? What about an early-career composer who is ‘making waves’ in your region? How can these composers make their music more accessible to you?

These are some of questions that we, composers Lisa Cheney (Melbourne/Brisbane) and Peggy Polias (Sydney), seek to explore as the co-directors and curators of our new project Making Waves. At 9am on the last day of each month Making Waves releases an exciting online playlist, containing one hour of the finest new Australian works from composers around the country, or now located overseas. Each playlist is curated to a theme, and showcases music by a number of different creators, with priority given to early-career composers. However, we do welcome submissions from all composers who identify as Australian.

Making Waves runs on an entirely online platform. Playlists are embedded within our website and then shared publicly via social media channels, offering our listeners multiple ways to subscribe to a new listening adventure each month. Once the month is over the playlists remain public and accessible. Listeners can join us at the moment the playlist goes live, or visit us months later to catch up on our showcased sounds, to explore just one track or listen to an hour at a time.

Making Waves is a completely independent project, with no umbrella organisation, funding or supporting body. It’s completely driven by passion and coffee! As early-career composers, we recognise a gap in the availability of accessible mediums to broadcast, access and achieve repeat performances of our own work and the works of our peers. Through Making Waves we aim to offer an engaging place to collect and share high quality compositions, and also a supportive network to encourage our composers. One of our greatest motivators for this project is the desire to give back to the listeners, performers and colleagues who have supported us along our own musical journeys. We’re incredibly excited to be celebrating the wonderful diversity of Australia’s new music scene, whilst ultimately getting back to basics; placing the spotlight on the ‘sounds’, the end result of all our hard work.

Making Waves’ February Playlist: Other-Worldly Waves

A bit about our working process

Located in separate states, we make sure to catch up monthly via skype to discuss the project and decide on the next month’s ‘hush-hush’ theme. Working mostly via email and instant messaging, when we’re ready to curate the playlist for the month we review our current pool of submissions received to assess what might fit our theme. Once we’ve gathered the hour of compositions by various composers we work on the track order until it fits beautifully together, with peaks and troughs that you could expect from any live concert. Whilst we might not be able to feature a submitted work in the month that it was received, it’s never a reflection on the quality of the work. Composers are encouraged to send links to only 1-3 tracks; this means people are submitting their best work. We have been floored by the quality, creativity and beauty of their submissions to date.

Once the playlist is ready, we congratulate and notify our composers in advance, giving them a chance to make any last-minute changes to their track page and to update their details as needed. We then move on to the technical preparations: the playlist page, the blog post for our website with the playlist embedded, the social media messages.  Then the music goes live at 9am on the last day of each month!

Listeners are encouraged to subscribe to Making Waves via email, WordPress, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud.  Followers receive a message or notification when each playlist goes live. Throughout the month we also like to cross-promote individual works via social media in order give each featured composer a moment in the spotlight.

Composers are welcome to make a submission of their music via links to streamable media (eg. Soundcloud, YouTube) via our website: www.makingwavesnewmusic.com.  We’re looking for recordings in the range of 7-15 minutes, but are open to special cases outside of this range.

We’re taking a really open, flexible approach to this project.  The website is evolving and being refined as we go.  We’re excited by the potential directions Making Waves could follow, including podcasts and radio shows.  We encourage feedback from composers and listeners, so please contact us if you have any thoughts or ideas. But most of all, we want you to follow, listen and enjoy these amazing works!

Find out more at www.makingwavesnewmusic.com