Megan Alice Clune is a musician, composer and artist based on Gadigal/Wangal country, Sydney, Australia. Her work explores the dynamic relationships between music, technology, the body and temporality through composition, performance and installation. Her 2021 album, If You Do, was released on Room 40 to critical acclaim.
I shut my eyes to meditate and the inverse glow of the computer screen sears the back of my eyelids.
Digital Auras consists of manipulated percussion samples, synthesiser drones and improvised singing. The piece is a continuation of my exploration of the voice and technology, but this time, writing felt loose and organic. The mind playing with the tools it had at hand in a state of flow. After spending some time tinkering with the samples and my analogue synthesiser, pushing them almost beyond recognition, I felt my Auto-Tuned, reverb-soaked voice drift through the Ableton session with a simple melody. The improvisation captured a sense of weightlessness; the recording captured a moment in time.
As the digital era presents us with infinite reproductions, I wonder: what happens to the aura of the original?
Listening, the way that we listen, has always been an area of great interest and research for me. I learnt a deeply focused listening from my studies as a classical clarinettist: listening to the sounds within sounds, how to manipulate sound as it carries and morphs within the concert hall. But there is a hierarchy at place here and a strict sense of right and wrong, which I came to resist when composing in favour of a de-centred approach. In de-centred listening, the body of the listener and the environment in which listening takes place are held equally to the music. Much of my music is written with this in mind, leaving some space in acknowledgement that it will be consumed on a train, in a car, while cleaning the house, as much as it will be heard live or on a dedicated sound system with undivided attention.
The context plays a similar role in writing music too: after finishing Digital Auras, I realised the pitch of the synthesiser heard at the opening is the same as my fridge that sits only two metres away from where I wrote it. You could say that the drone is the truest form of ambient music – it’s in the buzz, the hum that’s heard everywhere in urban landscapes, if we pay attention, if we only listen.