String Quartet No. 1: Industrial Night Music (2003)

string quartet

duration: 16 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpt

(one minute from the opening of the piece)

Programme Notes

Industrial Night Music was commissioned by Sandra Yates and Michael Skinner in memory of Michael’s father. One of the aspects of Michael’s father’s life was that he worked as an army engineer. This created a sense of resonance to me as I grew up in the Illawarra, a region dominated by the steelworks at Port Kembla, briefly working there and also in the blast furnace at the steelworks at Whyalla.

The outer sections of Industrial Night Music are built around musical expressions of mechanical and industrial processes viewed at close quarters. These include pollution, grime, dirt, ugliness, heat, a (male) worker surrounded by a surfeit of continually grinding interlocking gears, “mecchanico machismo”. The middle section is quite different: slow-moving, it portrays the still beauty of a large industrial workplace at night, viewed from afar, lit up by thousands of lights like a giant Christmas tree. It is only after one goes within the structures themselves that the true nature of the processes involved are revealed.

Industrial Night Music
was first performed by the Goldner String Quartet in 2003, and toured by them for Musica Viva Australia.

notes by Matthew Hindson.


At evening end and having its premiere season was Industrial Night Music, privately commissioned from Matthew Hindson, arguably today’s most distinctive Australian compositional voice, and in danger of being labelled as a bovver-boy.

He is much more, as this piece attests. Wisely rearranging the order of service to conserve some elbow grease for Hindson’s self-styled “meccanico machismo”, the players were able to expose the muscular, often memorable rhythmic patterns that clarify his texture and distinguish his pieces.

The cello was his instrument of choice to establish and maintain the momentum, and Julian Smiles lost quite a hunk of his bow hair depicting the dark and dirty sides of steelworks in Port Kembla and Whyalla. Elizabeth Silsbury, The Advertiser, 23 August 2003, page 87.

CD Recording Available?

Not yet. A live recording of the piece is available through the Australian Music Centre library.

Other Information

This piece may be ordered through Faber Music.

Leave a Reply