Dogs go barking mad for a little mutt music
New York performance artist Laurie Anderson leads a 20-minute concert titled Music For Dogs at the Sydney Opera House.
Mon, Jun 07, 2010 at 11:24 AM
DOGGY DITTY: Daina Fletcher holds her terrier, Lottie, as dogs and their owners gather at the Sydney Opera House for a concert by performance artist Laurie Anderson. (Photo: Rick Rycroft/AP)
The glittering sails of the Sydney Opera House went to the dogs on Saturday as hundreds of pugs, poodles and pooches converged on the iconic landmark for a world-first concert for canines.
Brainchild of New York performance artist Laurie Anderson, Music For Dogs was a surreal hash of slide whistles, synthesiser, strings and saxophone with a high-frequency undercurrent — inaudible to humans — that sent its four-legged patrons into a frenzy.
The 20-minute concert kicked off with a mellow set featuring whale calls and soothing white noise, before moving through a rhythm and beat section to a discordant crescendo almost drowned out by hundreds of barks and howls.
"We've got some singing dogs down here in the mosh pit!" joked Anderson, who led the four-piece band with a variety of instruments including a whistle, violin and synthesiser.
Almost 1,000 dog-lovers packed the Opera House steps and forecourt to treat their pets to the free outdoor event, part of the Vivid LIVE arts festival curated by Anderson and rock legend partner Lou Reed.
Anderson and her band used the high-frequency sounds to appeal to the dogs' super-sensitive ears, eliciting excited leaping from some creatures and a cacophony of yelps and yowls.
A sea of ears pricked up and tails wagged uncertainly when a burst of whale song rang out from the speakers, the sense of which Anderson said she thought the dogs could decode.
"I know that a lot of animals' calls are about distance and location, so I think they might pick up some of that," she said.
They yelped, yowled and circled one another excitedly during the beat section, as Anderson encouraged owners to scratch their pets behind the ears and dance along.
She credited the exuberant canines for the dazzling sunshine that bathed Sydney for the morning's festivities — the first reprieve in almost three weeks from torrential rain.
"I think the dogs brought on this weather. They don't want to sit freezing in the rain, they want to have a little sun on their fur," she laughed.
"It was good dog vibes."
There were plenty of water bowls and dog waste bags on hand in case of overenthused pooches needing a drink or toilet break, and Opera House staff circulated with spare leashes in case of a rogue escape.
Anderson said she laid some human-friendly strings and horns over the high-frequency sounds so that the dogs' owners also had something to enjoy.
"We brought the octaves down into our hearing range so we could all have the experience," she said.
One sheepdog nipped enthusiastically at the heels of a nervous poodle and there were a few robust exchanges of barking, but Anderson praised the doggy decorum overall, describing the event as the "highlight of my life."
"The dogs were really wonderful audience members — they were grooving, a lot of them were singing and dancing, they were uninhibited," she said after the recital.
"And you know what? There were no dog fights. We were very relieved about that, everyone was very well-behaved."
Copyright 2010 AFP Asian Edition