Naima lives and works on stolen unceded Wurundjeri land in Naarm (“Melbourne”) and in Bundjalung country (northern “N.S.W.”). They’re a disruptive queer who explores composing, ecology, and the spaces between. Since childhood, music and the environment have been their passions and after doing them separately for too many years, Naima’s moulding a creative practice that deeply traverses both. They are moving beyond familiar compositional processes, and experimenting with cross-arts pieces, composition as performance and collaborations.
Influences include jazz chords; minimalism’s interweaving; gamelan’s rhythms and microtonality; tonal languages; fractal, harmonic, and microscopic patterns; ecological datasets; anarchism; cultural traditions; intricate natural phenomena; smashing the gender binary; and all sorts of ruptures. They rarely practice.
Naima is currently composing a solo cello work (mid 2019). They’re also recording and mixing their data-sonification work Leagues of Breaking Light which they’re excited to release as a multi-media album in late 2019. Watch this space!
As well as Leagues of Breaking Light, Naima has written music for short film; 2 full-length live circus shows (Women’s Circus, Melbourne); Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde (Melbourne community klezmer/balkan+ band); and professional chamber ensembles including Homophonic! (Aus), The Committee (NZ) and Synchromy (US).
Naima reads queer and feminist sci-fi, rides a bicycle as often as possible, and plays music at protests with Riff Raff Radical Marching Band. They hope to create work that enables folk to access and interpret important ecological information, imagine radically different futures, and have enriching creative experiences.
- Composition major for B. Mus. at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia,1997-1999.
- B. Sc. in Ecology and Conservation Biology (First Class Honours), Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2001-2004.
- Guest Composer/arranger/conductor: Orkestar Lizmoré, Lismore, Australia, 2017.
- Musical Director/composer/conductor: Women’s Circus, Melbourne, Australia, 2010-2013.
- Mentorship: Screen Composing Mentorship with John Gray, Sydney and Lismore May-June 2018.
- Residency: Lìjiāng Studio, China, Feb-Aug 2015.
- Intensive course: The Modern Academy – Asia’s foremost contemporary classical music summer school, Hong Kong, June 2015.
Commissions and competitions:
- Homophonic! queer concert series by 3 Shades Black New Music Ensemble – regular commissions, Melbourne, Australia, 2011-ongoing.
- Synchromy Collective – commissioned piece for Ursula K Le Guin commemorative concert, 2018-19.
- Interactive Traces, Open Circuit Festival – composition i miss science. won Audience Favourite Award, 2018.
- The Committee New Music Collective – composition But You Could Be selected for performance, Auckland, New Zealand, 2013.
- The Australian Voices – composition Islands of Wilderness awarded highly commended in composition competition, Brisbane, 1998.
Publications and Presentations:
- The Digital Score: Musicianship, Creativity, and Innovation, by Dr Craig Vear, 2019 (not yet released). Composition, i miss science., is analysed.
- Leagues of Breaking Light presentation at Gender Diversity in Music Making conference, July 2018.
- Leagues of Breaking Light presentation at International Ecoacoustics Conference, June 2018.
- La Mama Musica (Live Composition of Dynamic Graphic Scores), Melbourne Australia, 2019.
- Midsumma Festival (Homophonic!), Melbourne, Australia, 2012; ’13; ’14; ’15; ’16; ’17; ’18; ’19.
- Open Circuit Festival, England, 2018.
- The Living Score concert, England, 2018.
- Melbourne Fringe Festival, Melbourne, Australia, 2011; ’15 & ’18.
- Lismore Women’s Festival, Lismore, Australia, 2017.
- Brisbane Anywhere Festival, Brisbane, Australia, 2016.
- Lesser Heat Festival, LaShiHai, China, 2015.
- Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne, Australia, 2014.
- Auckland Fringe Festival, New Zealand, 2013.
And more in Australia, New Zealand, China and the U.S..
Examples of Naima’s work:
Live Composition of Dynamic Graphic Scores (2019)
This is the first iteration of actualising several ideas I’ve been thinking on: ways to engage with the audience directly solely as a composer; the possibilities of composing in live-time; extending graphic scores into more dynamic and interactive forms; and doing sculptural/3D graphic scores.
I came up with creating 3D scores on a framed flat space onstage, which is live-projected for the audience to see. Composers build and change the score as instrumentalists interpret it. Debris Facility is a jewellery/accessories artist, so they brought a lot of their pieces and bulk stock that they create from, including rings, fabrics, shiny and iridescent things. I brought found objects including seed pods, broken glass, mud, and building site rubbish.
Performed at La Mama Musica, Melbourne, April 2019, by:
Naima Fine Fine – composing
Debris Facility – composing
Sage Pbbbt – voice
Stephanie Arnold – cello
Erica Rasmussen – percussion
Their Voices Were Over the Sky (2017)
This piece is a sonic expression of the conditions in which people fleeing from persecution and applying for refugee status are kept by Australian authorities, in offshore detention on Manus Island, PNG.
The title of this work is a fragment of a quote from Abdul Aziz Adam, a person who was imprisoned on Manus for 6 years until June 2019. Aziz spoke to journalist Michael Green for The Messenger, an amazing podcast exploring one person’s experience of what it’s really like to flee tragedy and seek asylum by boat. The words are used with Aziz’s permission.
LISTENING WARNING: The volume changes dramatically from very soft to very loud, please be prepared especially if using headphones.
It’s hard to think of anything else (2016)
This piece was written for a concert I produced at the Lismore Women’s Festival, with local musicians playing new music by Australian composers with a lived experience of being a wom*n. A friend and I started trading feminist slogans as possible names for my piece, trailing off with the observation: “…it’s hard to think of anything else these days”. The work is driven by my horror at witnessing basic services wom*n world-wide have fought so hard for being monstrously ripped away in the early days of the Trump administration – juxtaposed with the attempt to keep living a good life.
violin, cello, sarangi (Indian violin), flute, clarinet.
Leagues of Breaking Light. Approach 1: Herbarium-derived model predicts Rhododendron phenology (2015)
This is a recording of one section of a large body of work I did at Lijiang Studio in China, 2015. The whole work is called “Leagues of Breaking Light”. It consists of 4 approaches to working with the research, data and analyses of that the wonderful Dr Robbie Hart undertook for his PhD thesis. The Himalayan mountain in question was Yù lóng xuě shān 玉龙雪山, that we could see from the studio. This particular piece is part of Approach 1. It is a direct coded translation of a graph of the same name: a comparison of Robbie’s own data (represented by acoustic instruments) and his analyses of historical data (represented by sine waves).
Laura Moore – Cello; Viola de Gamba (in substitute for double bass)
Matthew Horsley – Percussion (found tuned objects)
Naima Fine – Dizi (Chinese flute); Harmonium; Sound engineering
Miranda Hill and Pietro Fine – Recording and Engineering assistance
Bǎn Zhù Dòng Zuò (2015)
版 筑 动 作 (Bǎn zhù dòng zuò) is about handmade mud bricks that are used to build a home. It is an exploration of how to create the idea of stillness using movement; a description of the graceful upward arcs these solid earthy mud bricks make when they are thrown from hand to hand up the side of the building; and an invitation to think twice about “dirt”.
Performed by Ensemble Gô (Singapore), Hong Kong, June 2015.
Monique Lapins and San Win Htike, violins; Victor Williams, viola; Dylan Lee, cello; and Naoto Segawa, marimba.
Crystal Ruth Bell: We Keep Going. (2015)
Last year Miranda and I had the incredible privilege to go on a long music residency in rural China. Our trip was facilitated by Kira and Crystal of China Residencies, an awesome young artistic and facilitative duo.
Kira and Crystal had their next trip to China planned while we were at the residency in spring, but Crystal died that winter. I only met her once on skype, but for whatever reason she grew really persistently present in my mind. So when Kira came and visited us in China, we spent an afternoon lying in the hammock in the sunny warm courtyard of Crystal’s favourite place in China, and Kira told me about Crystal.
Crystal was always busy but rarely frantic; she was drop-dead gorgeous; and just starting to figure out her shit. She never got around to learning much Mandarin because Kira already had; she had that infectious energy that gets other folks up and doing things too, and spent lots of time doing just that. She was an artist, a bike rider, an explorer and a baker. Of course she got cranky and had down times. But she and Kira’s general motto about that, was what was the point of sitting around, when there were so many things to do? Kira and Crystal were one of the closest and most active and productive teams I’ve ever known.
So that afternoon at Lijiang Studio I took in as much as I could, and then I went and wrote it back out, and this piece is what came out.
And as Kira wrote in the days after Crystal died: So now what? We keep going.
Recorded rehearsal for the Lesser Heat Festival, Lijiang Studio, July 2015.
Tuned bottles: Jen Torrence; Flute: Naima Fine; Cello: Crystal Pascucci; Double Bass: Miranda Hill.
The People’s Weather Report (2014)
Written for the The People’s Weather Report as part of the Going Nowhere Festival, November 2014. From the website:
“Going Nowhere is one event happening on two sides of the globe – in Melbourne, Australia and in Cambridge, UK – exploring how artists, communities and audiences can sustainably generate international creative experiences without getting on a plane.
Through a series of collaborations, Going Nowhere rehearses possible futures and embraces the shared delights of staying put and reaching out.”
“The People’s Weather Report is a global response to the enormity of climate change, from a number of very personal perspectives. In a plant installation created by eco-designer Tanja Beer, audiences are invited to experience a sound work of original ‘weather reports’ collected from participants located around the world.”
This was my first foray into “electronic music” – although none of my sounds are electronic! I wrote a rough score map, rather than a notated score; recorded all the elements; and built the piece in a sound/music editing program. You will hear:
Chorus Radio Waves within Earth’s Atmosphere, recorded by NASA.
Double bass interpretations of various historical and projected graphs of change in sea level, temperature, etc.
Excerpts of studies and articles reporting various aspects and examples of climate change across the world are read aloud.
Performed by Fine Fine Small Mountain. Melbourne, Aus., 2014.
Mat weaving fine (formerly Hat weaving fine). (2014)
An ensemble piece composed using prose from a journal entry by my great great grandfather Edwin Wright in the 1850’s. The journal was found by a stranger in an op-shop, who bought it and traced my family through a geneological online resource, and returned it to us. It covers a ~10 year period of Edwin’s life where he travelled from England to Canada by ship and lived and travelled in Canada. Entries include descriptions of ship conditions, personal updates, financial transactions, recipes, and instructions such as those used for this piece. Hilariously, I misread the title of this page to be “Hat weaving fine”. Only in 2016 was my auntie looking at the diary and my piece and pointed out he’d written “Mat”, not “Hat”! Ooops.
Performed by 3 Shades Black. Melbourne, Aus., 2014.
Anna-Louise Cole, Soprano; Ben Opie, Oboe; Laila Engle, Flute; Zoey Pepper, Bassoon; Luke Paulding, Tuba; Jennifer Morrish, Percussion; Zachary Johnston, Violin; Phoebe Green, Viola; Jennifer Mills, Cello; Miranda Hill, Double Bass.
i miss science. (2011)
A Moving Score: a score written in the form of a short film, to be read similarly to a graphic score. Every performance is different, and every ensemble interprets the score independently.
Performed by 3 Shades Black. Melbourne, Aus., 2011.
Bettina Crimmins, Oboe; Alisa Willis, Flute; Edward Ferris, Clarinet; Oscar Garrido de la Rosa, Bassoon; Miranda Hill, Double Bass; Dan Richardson, Percussion.
But you could be… (2013)
A vocal microscore, composed for a score call-out by NZ composer collective, The Committee. Inspired by an experience of being on a low income without a card to prove it, and being told, It’s not that they didn’t trust me, it’s just that I could be anybody. This made me think about how we are all “anybody”, and the toxicity and distrust implicit in our reliance on externally produced “proof” of ourselves and our lives.
Performed by The Committee. Auckland, NZ, 2013.
Elizabeth Mandino, Soprano; Claire Scholes, Mezzo; Stephen Rapano, Tenor; Te Oti Rakena, Baritone.
A quintet exploring the gorgeousness and essential-ness of deep-pitched instruments.
Performed by 3 Shades Black. Melbourne, Aus., 2012.
Ruby Paskas, Violin; Joshua de Graff, Oboe; Edward Ferris, Bass Clarinet; Oscar Garrido de la Rosa, Bassoon; Miranda Hill, Double Bass.
The Bells, The Bells (2014)
A piece for brass quartet and marimba: an attempt to express the constant, deafening/silent-through-satiation, urgent, ignored but imperative call for worldwide radical change. In this premiere, the marimba part is for a single player. I have since changed it to parts for 2 players.
Performed at the Australian National Academy of Music. Melbourne, Aus., 2014.
Louisa Trewartha, Trumpet; Josh Rogan, Trumpet; Kara Hahn, French Horn; Iain Faragher, Trombone; Hugh Tidy, Marimba.