Drawing links between the sheer power of nature and power of music

Excerpt from The Age review of Melbourne International Jazz Festival
By Jessica Nicholas

Visual elements were a major feature of Dan Tepfer’s performance at the Melbourne Planetarium.

Photo Credit: Duncographic


“When you have seen a cloud in the lap of a pond, and the moon between the waterlilies, inevitably you are at the mercy of your own soul.”


This Finnish poem, read by bassist Jonathan Zwartz before the premiere of his Suite Suomi last week, reflects on the power of nature. However, it could equally describe the power of music to speak to deep parts of ourselves, as many performances did during this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival.


....the visual elements of Dan Tepfer’s brilliant Natural Machines were a vital part of the experience, literally growing out the music. As the title suggests, the show explored the nexus between natural (or human) and mechanical (mathematical) processes, based on computer programs that reacted in real time to Tepfer’s improvising at the piano.

As he played, coded algorithms prompted his Disklavier to respond, creating the impression that Tepfer was accompanied by a pair of invisible hands. At the same time, visual representations of pitch, harmony and rhythm danced across the dome of the Melbourne Planetarium, building simple geometric shapes into elaborate 3D fractals and spiralling, multicoloured mandalas.


It was an awe-inspiring show, fusing astonishing creativity with complex music theory and physics.


Read full review in The Age here.