How it plays: innovations in percussion online

How it plays is a collaborative exhibition and performance project, involving the Grainger Museum, Federation Handbells (Museums Victoria/Creative Victoria), Speak Percussion, the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, and Melbourne School of Design. 

This exhibition shines a light on selected innovations in percussion, focussing on Melbourne, over a period of 140 years. It brings together a range of percussion instruments that have been created, composed for, and played by radical musicians, who have sought to change the way we can all hear, and play, music. Starting with Percy Grainger’s ground-breaking compositional experiments in ‘tuneful percussion’ in the first half of the twentieth century, How it plays then explores the work of the first truly innovative Australian percussion group, APE, in the 1970s, who experimented on Percy Grainger’s own instruments in the Grainger Museum as they evolved their practice. Jumping to the twenty-first century, the exhibition explores the musical and social phenomenon of the Federation Handbells, which engages acoustic and artistic innovation to bring the playing of bells to a wide range of communities. It concludes with an immersion in the sonic and artistic adventures in sound and performance of Melbourne organisation, Speak Percussion, an international leader in the field of experimental and new music.

The exhibition is on display at the Grainger Museum from 8 May 2019 to June 2020.


Grainger Museum, 2019. Exhibition Curator: Heather Gaunt, Artistic Advisor: Peter Neville