Meet Tilly Webb, Interactive Composition student at the University of Melbourne

Tilly Webb, Bachelor of Music (Interactive Composition) student. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Tilly Webb, Bachelor of Music (Interactive Composition) student. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

Now in her third year, musician Tilly Webb explains why she chose to study Interactive Composition, and how she learned to trust her gut.

Hi Tilly. Can you tell us what you’re doing currently in your studies?

I'm currently working on my third-year portfolio. In the first couple of years we work to complete specific briefs throughout the semester, but in third year we have free reign over our portfolio, which is both very exciting and terrifying. Mine is a collaboration with a writer – we're creating almost a storybook of particular moments in our lives. It's thrilling to be able to direct my own project over quite a large period of time and I can't wait to see where it ends up.

Why did you choose to study Interactive Composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium?

Interactive Composition was my first choice – I don't think there are too many degrees like it in Australia. There certainly weren't any in Sydney, where I come from, when I was applying. Strangely, I think what really sold me on the degree was how vague it is. I asked the lecturers who auditioned me, "What exactly is this course?", and the answer was: a little bit of everything with a contemporary focus. I wasn't settled on any kind of music in particular; I wanted room to breathe and explore as many genres/styles as I wanted. I feel this course has definitely provided that for me, whilst still providing resources to help refine my compositional skills.

Do you have a particular highlight from your time here so far?

I had no real idea of what this course would be when I came into it, so it has surprised me from the very start. It's a lot more self-directed than I anticipated, but I've actually really enjoyed that because it's taught me to trust my gut and to stop second-guessing myself or overthinking. I've also really enjoyed the diversity of the class: everyone makes a different type of music, everyone’s practice is continually evolving and pushing things into different perspectives for me. By far the most valuable element for me has been the wide variety of practitioners I've made connections with, whether they are students or teachers. That’s been immeasurably helpful and inspiring.

What advice would you give someone at the start of their studies at the Melbourne Conservatorium?

I would say: keep an open mind! You're going to get pushed in a lot of different directions and that's a good thing, but it can be intimidating, and sometimes it feels easier to just stick to what you know. Don't be afraid to try things you've never done before – you will get new skills, new friends, and even if the experience itself is horrible I bet you'll learn something at some point. It's also OK to change your mind – you don't have to stick to the idea of who you wanted to be when you first started uni.

What are your professional goals?

When I began this course I had vague aspirations to work in film composition, but I very quickly realised that my interests were so much more varied than just film. One of the most important things I've realised is that a lot of professional composers have their fingers in a lot of different pies! My dream career would be to do a little bit of everything, saying “yes” to the projects I'm really interested in and getting to write in a completely different way each time. Every time I work on a new collaboration with a dancer, or an animator, or a writer, or a photographer, my aspirations get bigger. I find that, mostly, I just like making music, and if I get to share that with someone then I end up satisfied.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is making it this far! As horribly corny as that sounds, I really think it’s true. Learning a craft is an exponential curve: the more you know the more you know you don't know, and it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and intimidated by how far you have left to go. Having the peace of mind to know that it's OK to still be learning is really something I have to work at, but I am proud to be thoroughly in progress as a composer and a person.

Find out more about Interactive Composition at the University of Melbourne.