Unsettling Scores is a three-part online program curated by Liquid Architecture for MUMA in conjunction with the exhibition Samson Young: Real Music, with expanded works published on Liquid Architecture’s journal, Disclaimer.

Bringing together artists, musicians and writers from around the world, Unsettling Scores examines how experimental and political sound and acts of listening become vehicles of unsettlement. Grounded in the language of musical scores, these practices disrupt logics of settlerism, extractivism, expropriation and appropriation while at the same time offering powerful assertions of sovereignty, resistance and futurity. Collating texts, videos, audio, notation, transcripts, proposals and documentation, Unsettling Scores takes the form of an expanded dialogue between contributors.

This first edition features Quandamooka woman and artist Megan Cope’s score and performance materials for Untitled (Death Song), recently exhibited at Adelaide Biennial; and xwélméxw (Stó:lō/Skwah) writer, artist, scholar and curator, Dylan Robinson’s spoken excerpts from his book Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies.


Megan Cope
Untitled (Death Song)

Untitled (Death Song), 2020, takes its first note from the haunting cries of the yellow-eyed Bush Stone-curlew. An endangered species within New South Wales and Victoria due to land clearing, habitat loss and predation by feral cats and foxes, the Bush Stone-curlew is known for its distinctive call, a ghost-like “weer-lo” sound. Heard in chorus and crescendo with other Bush Stone-curlews, the eerie call is often mistaken for a crying baby or wailing woman. ​I am deeply interested in the sound of Country; if the land could sing, how might it sound? Taking ​cues from the Bush Stone-curlew, Untitled is a lament. The threatened status of the bird not only registers significant ecological change and the impact of modern agricultural land management; it is a harbinger, a warning for the future.

— Megan Cope (Quandamooka)


Instruments I–V

Instructions for Performers

Each of the five instruments has been designed to achieve a unique set of timbral qualities and sit within a different area of the frequency spectrum. These playing techniques are not prescriptive: you should consider them a starting point for creating the call. It is likely that, as you develop an understanding of the instrument, you will find your own way of achieving sound.

Call A

Straight Long Down 1
Single phrase eer-oh
Two-note phrase; long flattening note with brief and sudden drop to lower pitch.

Straight Long Down 2
Single phrase Eer-oh
Two-note phrase; long flattening note with brief and sudden drop to lower pitch.

Straight Quick Down
Single phrase eee - oh
Two-note phrase; whistle-like; long evenly-pitched note with sudden drop to lower pitch.

Call B

Long Arc Up Down 1
Single phrase wee - ou
Single-note phrase; long, smooth pitch ascent gliding into shorter descent.

Long Arc Up Down 2
Single phrase wer - lou
Two-note phrase; steep, smooth, linear pitch ascent flattening into gradual descent followed by sudden drop to lower pitch.

Call C

Multiple Short Arcs 1
Single phrase repeated weeou
Whistle-like; quick, steep, smooth, linear pitch ascent and descent of similar duration.

Multiple Short Arcs 2
Single phrase repeated weeou
Whistle-like; quick, steep, smooth, linear pitch ascent followed by descent of shorter duration.

Call D

Short Up Down Multiple
Single phrase repeated we a
Two-note phrase; very quick logarhythmic pitch ascent with similar descent followed by sudden break to lower pitch.

Call E

Quick Frequent High
Single phrase repeated Wip-wip
Pulsating, high-pitched, staccato cheep with short flick upward in pitch.

Quick Single High
Single phrase Wip-wip
High-pitched, staccato cheep with short flick upward in pitch.

Call F

Fast Repeated Siren
Single phrase repeated twee-di
Two-note phrase; rapid, staccato, high-pitched trill of even pitch

Call G

Singe phrase repeated
Harsh, scratching elongated throaty hiss of even pitch


Read, watch and listen to the full performance score via Liquid Architecture’s journal, Disclaimer.


Dylan Robinson
Hungry Listening

Dylan Robinson reads excerpts from his book Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies which approaches sound and listening from positions of both settler and Indigenous ontologies, enriched through examples that query legal, cultural and linguistic methods of settling and unsettling the sonic.

(02:41) Introduction
(35:19) Hungry Listening Excerpt
(27:35) Song Life
(02:29) Event Score for Guest Listening

Dylan’s readings ask what can and will be heard, and what information or affect is carried through reflecting multiple and non-totalising Indigenous sound and listening practices. Practices and policies of silencing meet resilient practices of song and language which unsettle and speak back to the “tin ear” of settler colonialism (Hungry Listening, p. 37).

Song life extends from Hungry Listening into non-human sonic agencies, beyond the human subjectivities to which they speak. Speech and speechlessness are examined as forms of Indigenous knowledge and more-than-human understanding, linking material culture and songs with ancestors as processes of being-with and kinship, against the colonial museological frameworks that silence and mute objects, removing them from culture.

Megan Cope

Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality, and examines psychogeographies that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ and our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state. Cope is a member of Aboriginal art collective proppaNOW and in 2017–19 she was the Official Australian War Artist.

Megan Cope, Untitled (Death Song) was commissioned by The Art Gallery of South Australia, for the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres. Supported by Liquid Architecture.

Dylan Robinson

Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō/Skwah) writer, artist, scholar and curator. He is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of Hungry Listening, Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, published by University of Minnesota Press.

Liquid Architecture

For the past 20 years, Liquid Architecture has been Australia’s leading organisation for artists working with sound and listening. LA investigates the sounds themselves, but also the ideas communicated about, and the meaning of, sound and listening.

Our program stages encounters and creates spaces for sonic experience, and critical reflection on sonority and systems of sonic affect. To do this, we host experiences at the intersection of contemporary art and experimental music, supporting artists to produce performances and concerts, exhibitions, talks, reading groups, workshops and recordings in art spaces, music venues and other sites.

Liquid Architecture is curatorially driven and our methodology embraces research, collaborations and imaginations. We want to echo beyond local conversations, problems, debates and questions, to reverberate across media and disciplines, and so to sound out new discourses about the audible world, and beyond.



Megan Cope, Untitled (Death Song), 2020. Installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Photo: Saul Steed



Peter Morin singing to an ancestor at the Museum Of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada, 2013. Photo: Kate Hennessy

+61 3 9905 4217

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders—past, present and emerging—of the lands on which Monash University operates. We acknowledge Aboriginal connection to material and creative practice on these lands for more than 60,000 years.


View online