Origins


The group was formed in 1993 upon the premise of free improvisation and extended voice usage. While primarily a vocal group we were occasionaly joined by a variety of instrumentalists. These were always looked upon as "other voices", and we never used more than one instrumentalist (so far) at the time. We also improvised a lot with the format and composition of the group.

The beginning as experienced by founding member Sjaak de Jong
One day towards the end of Jan.1993 I felt quite discouraged about the collapse of yet another musical group (playing original and often highly complex material) that I had been involved with. The only musical adventures that I had really enjoyed in the last 3 years was playing with a number of improvising outfits.. Then it struck me that rather then working with other improvising instrumentalists it would be more interesting to work with vocalists instead since such questions as what key are we playing in ???? and where is that scale and these notes on my instrument ???? become obsolete. Feeling quite excited about this idea I took a walk down the street and ran into Melody James who somehow had come up with a similar idea. Just then, as we talked over our ideas on vocal improvisation before the window of a coffee shop in Grey Street, (St Kilda, Melbourne) the dancer Zev Howley came past and said that he really wanted to work with an improvising musical group on a regular basis. The three of us contacted a number of friends and three days later 5 singers and three dancers met for the first time in the old skating rink in Williamstown for an "Unamunos Quorum" rehearsal. This name was thought up by Jonothan Barnsley who "found" it by randomly sticking pins into a dictionary of philosophy with his eyes closed. Later on in the evening after hours of rehearsal we just could not stop, we sang all the way back to the Williamstown station and also on the train. We did our first gig about two weeks later. All of this was a very exciting and synergetic phenomenon it really felt that the group formed itself, rather then being the idea of (or due to the effort of) a particular induvidual. During 1993 lots of personnel came and went. We also rehearsed and talked with Robert Calvert a lot who had studied improvisation with John Stevens in England and gave us a lot of ideas on how to run workshops on improvisation.

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