Graeme Leak, music maker
height: 175cm

WELCOME

​I am a music performer, composer, leader and instrument maker from Australia, now based in Scotland more | biog | CV

PLAYING

SAVED 2022

SAVED is a meditative, musical journey through the mundanity of everyday life featuring two rescued 1970s Yamaha Electone organs more >>

C-55 Control Panel
Spaghetti Western Orchestra 2001-2012

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra began as The Ennio Morricone Experience in Melbourne. It went on to international acclaim, touring the UK, Europe, the US, Asia and Australia .. more>>

Eco Opera 2022

Eco Opera is a set of bespoke musical instrument sound installations by Graeme Leak that are ‘played’ by wind, rain and animals, located in deepest Stirlingshire, Scotland. more >>

A small bird is sitting on a perch that has a 'cello string and a 'cello bridge attached
Eco-Opera Musical Bird Feeder

LEADING

Raising the Roof 2012

Raising the Roof, for Arts Centre Melbourne, celebrated the re-opening of Hamer Hall. Graeme Leak and Patrick Cronin created a joyful event that brought together hundreds of performers in a unique celebration of grassroots musical culture in Melbourne – with a part for the audience! more >>

Girgarre Junkestra 2017-2020

We made instruments and put on a grand show to open the SoundShell in 2018. In 2019 we played in Melbourne and in 2020 we appeared on national TV. more >>

East Neuk BIG PROJECT 2020
We were all set to make instruments from collected rubbish for a FANTASTIC PLASTIC BAND to lead the annual Sea Queen Parade in Fife. Sadly this event was cancelled due to Covid-19. more >>

MAKING

A Jackdaw lands on the Amplified Fence
Eco-Opera 2022

Eco-Opera is a set of bespoke musical instrument sound installations that are ‘played’ by wind, rain and animals, located in deepest Stirlingshire, Scotland. more>>

Robin perches on the Pigeon-Bass Guitar
String Cans 2017-2020

These unique one-string instruments allow beginners to play music together much more easily than ukes and guitars. more >>

Make and Play workshops

In a MAKE and PLAY workshop participants make an instrument then play it  in an ensemble. This can happen in a single session or over several sessions.​ more >>

Polaris 2018

For POLARIS I designed amplified tables for the actors to play. more >>

Jingling Johnny 2017
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra commissioned me to make this Jingling Johnny more >>

LISTEN! Watford Colosseum 2014

In 2014 I transformed the Watford Colosseum into an interactive musical playground, using interactive hand-cranked music machines, Sonic Tubes and Sonic Hairdryers, a program of hidden performers in lifts, stairwells and the ticket box and table-side performances ordered from a menu in the restaurant. more>>

COMPOSING

A piece of manuscript paper with notes and chords sketched onto it in pencil. There are some crossings out and a few extra notes written with red and green pens. These chords were used in the piece called 'Ringing the Changes, written for the aerial bell ringers of the strange fruit company and performed at the Melbourne Festival in 2011.
'Ringing the Changes' sketch, 2011
Spirit Rising 2018

This unique work for the Girgarre Junkestra was mostly taught by ear. Find a video of the show and some sample score pages here.  more >>

The Exquisite Now 2019

Commissioned by Museums Victoria in partnership with the Arts Learning Festival, The Exquisite Now premiered in May 2019. more >>

Music by Graeme Leak
Scores for sale in the gbay shop. Scroll down to the bottom for a complete list of works. more >>

Listen…

Apparently, as a toddler, I used to ask my parents if they could hear the music in the cars. Experiencing the environment as music provides an endless wellspring of inspiration that permeates all of my work. Whether performing, directing massed performances, building instruments and installations, leading a workshop or composing, I aim to open ears and eyes to the joy, beauty and power of music.

Excerpt from soundtrack to ‘The Corridor’, 2005 Dance-Music-Theatre work by David Wells, with music by GL. String cans, drum samples and tambourine.

A Pheasant plays a Zither, Eco-Opera

Music or Noise?

The difference between music and noise… says the 50’s American scientist on the Physics of Musical Sounds tape …is whether we like it or not. ​I am fascinated by how we judge sound as either pleasing or jarring to the ear and by the fact that over time we become more accepting of ‘jarring’ sounds. Beethoven’s audience stormed out of first performances of his works. Beatles fans were appalled at the newest releases. Today’s audiences are still appalled at Schoenberg 100 years after he re-wrote the rules of harmony. There is melody, harmony, dissonance, noise, discord, rhythm and myriad other musics playing all around us when we stop and listen.

Girgarre Junkestra string-can rehearsal 8 Feb 2018
String Cans: Des Crichton, Val Maudsley, John Warde and GL

Instruments

String Can, St Albans 2016

We need new acoustic instruments. Why is it that the saxophone (1840) is the last new instrument to have ‘made it’ into mainstream (Western) art music? The evolution of acoustic musical instruments, so active and continuous since the stone-age, has almost ground to a halt. Is this because electronics and computers have taken centre stage? Has the exploration of vibrating strings, skin, wood and columns of air been overshadowed by electronics and programming?

Fence and Triangle, Winton Town Fence Band 2003 
Fence: Pinky Mutton, Mary Pearce, Stephanie Greenwood, Rosie Archer, Rebecca Crap, Milton Taylor, Toni Wilmott, Barb Howard, Karen Stockham, Joan Evert
Triangle and Conductor: GL

Cinema took a body blow with the arrival of video but has bounced back with a new and robust relationship to digital technology. Instrument making is still suffering from the mass exodus from workshops to office chairs. It will recover and new instruments will be heard. It can be so simple and beautiful.

MUSIC or NOISE? short audio work, 2005
ten-pin bowls, conduit whistles, amplified cactus and flying harmonica

RAISING the ROOF concert excerpt, Hamer Hall 2012, composed/arranged and conducted GL, featuring Chao Feng Chinese Orchestra, Drum Nation, Kew Band, La Voce Della Luna, MASSIVE Hip Hop Choir, Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir, Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, Mesopotamia Group, SKIN Choir and the Audience.
MC: Julia Zemiro
Creative Producer: Patrick Cronin
Stage Designer: Darryl Cordell
Concert Sound Design and Recording Engineer: Jim Atkins
Choreographer: Bec Reid
Lighting Design: Niklas Pajanti