Jon Rose | Fringe Benefits 1977 - 1985

Jon Rose | Fringe Benefits 1977 – 1985 | Entropy Stereo Recordings

Jon Rose, Martin Wesley Smith, Kendal Country, Joe ‘Doc’ Rosenberg, Michael Sheridan, Brahms, John Gillies, Rik Rue, Tony Hobbs, Simone de Haan, Dave Ellis, Serge Ermoll, Louis Burdett, The Canberra School of Music Third Orchestra, Greg Kingston, Adrian Keenan, Peter Kelly, Torsten Müller, Richard Vella, Jeff Wagner, Jamie Fielding, Jim Denley

Chopped up and sorted at Steim Studios, Amsterdam, July 1998. © copyright Jon Rose and all musicians. Photographs – Kristin Rose, Konstanze Binder. Two CD’s (almost 150 minutes) worth of archival material from the 70’s and 80’s handpicked by Jon Rose with detailed liner notes. The music constitutes his experimental work in Australia with many home made instruments.


Tromba Mariner, Sydney 1979



In 1977 I started FRINGE BENEFIT, a small organization in Australia for the promotion (mainly) and recording of improvised music. Recently I decided to listen to a few recordings that were in the Fringe Benefit catalogue… some of which I hadn’t heard for 20 years. Over half of these tapes had deteriorated so much that they had become unplayable. I decided to make a ‘sampler’ of FBR, using material from either cassette or disc (all the LP master tapes except one were sadly destroyed in a Sydney squat)

The recordings of these CDs were made in Australia between 1977 and 1985… precise dates and places are indicated when known but there were many tapes without any details on the cover (my fault); there were other FBR recordings and LPs which were made in Europe, Japan, and America but, since music in these places is so overdocumented anyway, I decided to give that material a miss. I selected recordings which illustrated (1) some of my more successful ‘Relative Violin’ activities and (2) some of the improvising musicians I worked with at the time.

The concert extracts on this CD were mostly recorded on a Sony portable cassette player by Rik Rue; the environmental / violin recordings were made by me using a pair of binaural microphones; other ‘studio’ recordings are indicated under each track… either way, all extracts recorded direct to 2 track unless otherwise indicated. These extracts should be treated as sonic snapshots in an archive… the real events are long gone. It is not intended that these CDs be listened to in one sitting… and that’s a health warning! — JON ROSE 11-98


Triple neck, double piston, wheeling violin

Tracklist: 1. Cattle Train and violin December 1979 Cosford, NSW. 0’47” 2. 19 string violin with stereo amplification. Sydney, 23/9/80 at a concert in the space that became the gallery of tea heiress Roslyn Oxley. 6’46” 3. fly trapped in a violin, date ? 0’12” 4. 19 string violin with electronics, 1980, Sydney 1’47” 5. pizz violin at a bay with an extraordinary ambience, Hawkesbury River, NSW, 1979 0’48” 6. 16 string long neck violin, recorded at NSW Conservatorium of Music, December 1982. original track with one overdub. 2’23” 7. 19 string violin. 9/4/80, Dangar Island. (From the Relative Violin Notebook series). This instrument was stolen from a car in London, 1981. 0’50” 8. Amplified String Frame & half size wooden frame, ship’s piano. 7/4/80 2’22” 9. A couple of sections from the LP ‘TANGO’ (HOT 1009) As far as I know the first recording of live improvised music featuring violin and its’ sampled sound captured and played by Martin Wesley-Smith on the Fairlight CMI. NSW Conservatorium Electronic Music Studios, Sydney, 28/12/83. 3’39” 10. Installation with violins inserted between the strings, Gallery of NSW. January 1984. 1’02” 11. Triple neck, double piston, wheeling violin, near Broken Hill, NSW, January 1985. 0’45” 12. Tromba Mariner, Hawkesbury River, 1982 0’33” 13. The Relative Band 1984, ABC Studios (producer Andrew McKlennan)…. also known to the man at the door of the ABC carpark as The Tel Aviv Bats…for reasons known only to himself….with, apart from myself, Jim Denley – flaxophone; Luc Houtkamp – saxophone; Marcel Cuypers – piano; Roger Turner – percussion; Maggie Nicols – voice; Richard Ratajek – bass 2’53” 14. Hummer Bow installation…a use for endless amounts of 1/4 inch audio tape. 1979, Hawkesbury River sandmark marker. 0’30” 15. Long String installation…1 started building these things in 1981 but recordings were in such bad condition that I chose this one from 1985 as better representation…just one 20 meter acoustic string played with bow, hand and feet. 3 ‘ 17 “ 16. Polystyrene 2 string violin built in 1983 0’55” 17. Concert on the roof of Exiles Bookshop, Darlinghurst Sydney, summer 1982? Seating was set up on the traffic island and pavement. Our roving recordist Rik Rue gets the views of the punters…the traffic accident at the end of this 60 minute concert really happened. 2’21” 18. Recording of a fence played by the wind, outback NSW. 1’35” 19. Violin played knee deep in the surf, Tasmania, Feb., 1978. 2’45” 20. Megaphone half-sized violin and amplified right leg (radio mic), concert at Exiles Bookshop, 1982. 0’34” 21. 7 string home made viol with Aerobics teacher 1984 (appeared in The Anatomy of the Violin ABC 1985) 1’50” 22. A double bcw extract frcm a non-stop 12 hour marathon solo violin concert, Alexander tfeckie Gallery, Sydney, Jan., 1982 from the ‘Sound Barriers’ festival. The organizer asked the Guinness Ecok of Records but they weren’t interested. I also played a 10 hour non stopper in the Bank of Texas, Houston in 1986 for the NEW Mjsic Ansrica festival but that’s another story… 23. C&W, 1979 from the band ‘Lynn McKensie & Kendal Country’ . . .my bread winner at the time. 0’22” 24. Sydney Airport project. Rik Rue and I spent most of the day standing by runway #1 recording every landing and takeoff.. .didn’t feel so good at the end of that outing. The violin is amplified through a hand held revolving speaker, (automatic level on the recorder ensures that the violin sound is wiped out as the aircraft passes) . date 1984? 0’46” 25. 10 string double violin, built in 1982…poor as it is, this is the only use-able recording I have of it (Berlin 1986) . Played with a double bow. . .as you go down on one part of the string and on one of the violins, you go up (thanks Pythagoras) on the other part of the string which is resonated by the other violin. The remains of this instrument is now in the Rosenberg Museum in the town of VIOLIN in Slovakia (and I’m not putting you on!) 1’39” 26. String Frame. From the LP ‘Relative String Music’, 1980, Sydney. 1-55″ 27. Violin with cheap cassette tape feedback loop. . .melting under the sun. 1981? 0’32” 28. Violin with built in FM radio broadcast, reception & anplification. The ‘lark’ violin. Recorded 1981 0’28” 29. The ‘Elbow’ violin with cheap ‘octivida’ feeding back. 1978 0’52” 30. Tromba Mariner mark 2. 1′ 02 ” 31. A ‘relative violin’ under de-construction. 0’7″ 32.The legendary ‘Joe ‘Doc’ Rosenberg at Blacktown Workers Club, Sydney 19/9/49 with Ronaldo Cartwright – bass; Grady O’Basher – drums; Count ‘Fingers’ Le Barren – piano. (For those of you still unfamiliar with the work of ‘Doc’, you can get up to speed by reading THE PINK VIOLIN, ISBN 0 646 08003 2 or VIOLIN MUSIC IN THE AGE OF SHOPPING, ISBN 0 646 18105 X.) 2’24” 33. Chinese 1/4 size violin with 50 feeding parrots, Dangar Island, Nov. 1977 1’33” 34. The 5 string ‘rational trapezoidal viola’ of Felix Savart. Cost me $3.95 and 5 days to build in 1981 plus this recording features Don Mori’s revolving speaker powered by a washing machine motor. 0’53” 35. The Slaughterhouse 3. Michael Sheridan – bass; Jon Gillies – drums. ABC recording 14/2/83 (not to be confused with the later Berlin group ‘Slawterhaus’) 2’54” 36. 1/2 sized violin and Theremin (built by Greg Schiemer) Canberra, June 1983. First attempts at making the physical movements of violin playing control or effect sound sources. I’lO” 37. Brahms was one of the first to use Edison’s invention. I always wanted to play along with him. . .an out of time and place duo as I recorded the violin part without being able to hear what speed ‘Johannes’ (alias Richard Vella?) was playing at. Violinists are taught to sniff in time with the music…from “Une Anatomy of The Violin’ ABC 1985. 1’27” 38. Slaughterhouse 3. Same as track 33. Chris Mann says that an Australian is someone, who when asked if they can play the piano, answers “Don’t know, never tried”. 1’43” 39. 6 string Down Pipe Mobile and whirled speaker (Rik Rue) . Exiles Gallery concert 1983. In the second half of this concert, there was a loud explosion caused by a passerby casually throwing a Chinese firecracker into the concert space via an open window. 0’59” 40. Tony Hobbs – Tenor saxophone; J.R. – amplified violin; with hand spooled tape playback. Paris Theatre 25/5/78 5’29” 41. ‘ 3 in 1’ with Kristin Rose – slides and kinetic sculptures; Caroline Lung -dance (keep an ear open for those kneecaps) ; J.R. – amplified string installation (featuring the violin bowing long strings) . Steven Mori Gallery, Jan. 1984 5’31”


Tracklist: 1. Simone de Haan – Trombone & J.R. at Canberra School of Music, 6/8/84 2-20″ 2. An FBR project in which we improvised over the same time period but without knowing/hearing what the other guys were doing. Dave Ellis -double bass; J.R. – electric violin; Serge Ermoll – piano ( a black belt in Karate, Serge is the only pianist I’ve ever seen move a grand piano over a carpeted floor just by the ferocity of his playing). Recorded at Conservatorium NSW on a 4 track TEAC. March, 1978. 3’19” 3. Louis Burdett – trumpet; J.R. – 19 string violin. Recorded at the Basement, Sydney, 14/9/80…a straight jazz club which occasionally allowed improvised music on it’s premises. I’Ol” 4. Extract from ‘Western Window’ featuring the third Orchestra of the Canberra School of Music (basically the rejects) …in which Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was deconstructed into short phrases and then played as ‘ loops’ . . . interspersed with graphic score type impros (see score) . The tape of Polestar (PSR 0833-45 observed at 1655mz) was sent to me by the CSIRO especially for this project. (Recorded 1983…tape cobbled together at the ABC in 1985) 2’32” 5. Greg Kniston – electric guitar; Louis Burdett – changing from flute to trumpet to clarinet; J.R. – 19 string violin. 24/5/80 3 ‘ 3 6 ” 6. J.R. – violin & Adrian Keenan – long Revox tape loop and mixing desk; NSW Conservatorium, 226/11/77 2’29” 7. Jim Denley – flute (a major contributor to the development of improvisation in Australia for the last 15 years); J.R. – 19 string cello. Exiles Gallery, 3/7/82 time? 8. Dr. Rosenberg’s Church Organ Solo, 15/1/81. 2’27” 9. ‘The Hulk’. 7/7/79 at The Sculpture Centre…at the time the main venue for improvised music in Sydney, ‘The Hulk’ was Louis’ huge, bolted randomly together, junk instrument, it filled his front room and I seem to remember him crawling/ standing/ dancing/ clinging/ and eventually falling off a narrow bar at the top of this construction while he played his solo. 2’29” 10. Simone de Haan – trombone & J.R. – 19 string cello, 6/8/84 3’34” 11. 19 string cello (this was a converted 1/2 size Chinese student instrument, amplified and in stereo) , use of short (12 inches) but heavy, notched bow for high speed spicatto and other effects. Recorded 14/21/81 just prior to premiere for this instrument at Art, Empire, Industry (Sussex Street, Sydney) . 7’55” 12. Aeolian double neck violin (fitted with a sail) 1984 2-52″ 13 . The Well Strung Ironingboard played with a bow in one hand and guitar pickup in the other. 1983? 0’26” 14. The Slaughterhouse 3. (same info as other 2 tracks) 0-34″ 15. The 7 string Viola Mobile at Waters Gallery, Sydney 1982 0’34” 16. Metal plate resonator violin 1979 0’08” 17. Murdered the wrong Beatle, didn’t he? (Slaughterhouse Tribute 1983) 0’46” 18. Mobile at Praxis. Automatic violin is mounted upside down on a not completely round bicycle wheel like a french moped, the manual violin is everything else. At a later lunch time concert (very amplified) watched by about 3 people…I was stopped after 15 minutes by irate office workers from the next building. Freemantle, 1983. 0’29” 19. More violin research; dragging a weighted violin with a spring resonator along a concrete floor. 1980 0’26” 20. ‘Waltz for The Shaggs’. 2 MBS FM radio broadcast for Alessio Cavallaro’s show. Slaughterhouse Trio with Jim Denley – flaxophone and alto saxophone; J.R. – amplified piano. 1983 1-56″ 21. Burdett/ Ellis/ Rose Trio recorded at The Basement, Sydney, 14/9/80 0’51” 22 . One man band research; this time pumping a player piano while playing the violin. A good example of Joe “doc” Rosengerg’s Boo Melodies Theory into practice. Tasmania, 1979. 1-06″ 23. Telephone concert…as this was pre-internet… turned out to be too expensive a means of communicating improvised music (!) 1982? The encore is ‘Green Dolphin Street’ played on a violin fitted with spring resonators .. .plus massive feedback. 1′ 52 “ 24. Peter Kelly (an original talent who sadly gave up the impro scene and became a Christian)- vibes, marimba; Rik Rue – cauliflower, sticky tape; J.R. – covered violin, 25/5/78. The exceptional quality of this LP surface really adds something to this track I think. 1’52” 25. Fence recording. Dangar Island, Summer 1982. 1’27” 26. String Frame (string pitch is modified by pedals) built in 1979, Dangar Island. 4’54” 27. String Trio. Dave Ellis – double bass; Torsten Muller – double bass; J.R. – 19 string cello. Live 2 MBS FM broadcast of the ‘Round Midnite Show’ and recorded from a domestic radio set. 15/8/81. 5’19” 28. ‘Sophisticated Lady’ excerpt from ‘The Anatomy of The Violin’ ABC 1985 1’39” 29. 2 bits from Mega Slaughterhouse at Jenny’s Wine Bar, 27/8/83. Specializing in post modern purges without any control freak (conductor) deemed necessary; Richard Vella – piano; Louis Burdett – drums, flute, trumpet; Michael Sheridan – bass; John Gillies – drums; Jeff Wagner – drums; Jim Denley – saxophone; J.R. – violin; the late and very great Jamie Fielding – organ. (that’s not a police siren at the end, it’s Jim Denley) 5′ 52 ” TOTAL TIME – 73’32”

Chopped up and sorted at Steim Studios, Amsterdam, July 1998. © copyright Jon Rose and all musicians; Photographs – Kristin Rose, Konstanze Binder. Further information (e.g. photos of more Relative Violins) can be obtained from J.R.’s web page by clicking here… or click the following Jon Rose portrait…

Jon Rose at The Donaueshingen New Music Festival 2004

“new music is never very nice at the beginning”
Arnold Schönberg’s quote on the T-shirt

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2 thoughts on “Jon Rose | Fringe Benefits 1977 – 1985 | Entropy Stereo Recordings

  1. Fringe Benefits is a compilation of recordings emanating from Jon Rose’ Australian organization baring the same name which was a promotional tool of sorts for improvised music. Rose states in the liners: “………Over half of these tapes had deteriorated so much that they had become unplayable. I decided to make a sampler of FBR, using material from either cassette or disc (all the LP master tapes except one were sadly destroyed in a Sydney squat)”. Rose discloses that these recordings were made between 1977 and 1985 and some of the actual dates are unknown.

    John Rose is a violinist and an inventor of odd looking and unorthodox violin-type instruments. Examples are: 16 string long neck violin and the well strung ironing board; Double Violin mobile with French moped function; ½ size megaphone violin with FM microphone or did you ever hear of a…….Triple neck, double piston, wheeling violin? Yes, Rose is a Renaissance man yet he can actually create music with these odd contraptions. Thankfully, Rose has provided us with photos throughout the CD insert, which exemplifies the seemingly otherworldly characteristics of these absurd looking instruments.

    There are 70 pieces in total as Rose candidly admits that listening to all of this in one sitting could be something of a health hazard. This writer made it through 1 disc at a time and was easily fascinated with many of the strange sounds, free-improvised motifs and sporadic ensemble work with relatively unknown musicians. The improvisation and sometimes-mechanical nature of the music is a source of amazement. You may laugh, scrutinize some of the material or waive the white flag; however, if you should be a free-improv-jazz enthusiast Fringe Benefits may fill a huge gap in your CD collection. There’s a strong chance you may become enthralled or thoroughly agitated. Either way, Rose seems like a fascinating if not eccentric person and/or musician. In summary, it would be hard to rate this 2 CD set as it is very specialized and may see limited appeal even within the free-jazz market. This writer cautiously bestows **** but it’s not for everyone.

  2. At a certain point, restlessness can merge into insanity. (I couldn’t tell you exactly where that point is, because I’m long past it myself.) Extreme violinist Jon Rose has proven over and over again his restless desire for creative momentum. I’m not really sure where he stands with respect to sanity—but the music he makes is unique, in the most extreme sense. His recent disc The Hyperstring Project on ReR presented a definitive thesis on the integration of improvised violin with interactive electronics. Fringe Benefits, a 2-disc 1998 retrospective, summarizes his experimental violin theatrics during his fertile 1977-1985 period in Australia. The sound quality on Fringe Benefits varies widely from distorted and noisy to sharp and clear, but at many points the noise appears to be part of the performance.

    As a warning up front, Rose announces that “it is not intended that these CDs be listened to in one sitting… and that’s a health warning!” He has a point. Only a listener with incredible stamina could sit through his works for cattle train and violin, fly trapped in violin, polystyrene two-string violin, violin played knee deep in the surf, violin with airport taxi and takeoff, and Chinese 1/4 size violin with 50 feeding parrots. And that’s just a sampling off the first disc.

    The point of this music (as can best be deciphered from the sheer randomness contained within) seems to be to explore every possible geometry, compositional framework, electronic effect, and performance style possible on the violin. Of course that’s an infinite list, but Rose makes a striking effort to approach some of the more interesting possibilities. His playing ranges from straight country and western (no kidding) through more restrained ‘composed’ sounding passages to all-out scratching, screaming noise. No doubt Rose is a virtuoso; plenty of doubt he’s sane; and extraordinary doubt that the average listener will enjoy his music. But if you’ve got an interest in experimental music, this 2-disc set provides a fantastic diversity of material. Fringe Benefits certainly gives a welcome background for anyone interested in the genesis of Rose’s current highly-developed interactive electronic style.

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