Federation Bells are a set of 39 bronze bells located in Birrarung Marr in central Melbourne


Circle - Naretha Williams

Part of Yirramboi – First Nations Arts Festival

Installation: 5-14 May

Daily 8-10.30am, 12-2.30pm, 4.30-7pm

Performance: 11 May 11:59pm (40 mins)

Circle is a moon-drenched sound bath and live activation of the large scale sculptural instrument Federation Bells.

Set on the high ground of the Birrarung Marr, Circle is the public initiation of Naretha Williams’ current composition project CRYPTEX.
CRYPTEX – Bio Templates & Ceremonial Frameworks for Contemporary Composition; utilises the source code of the body by analysing DNA sequences to create mathematical templates to work with in a musical context. In this piece, song cycles are informed by the traditional seasons of the Kulin Nation, recognising 6 distinct phases of the year and bringing attention to our celestial knowledge systems.
This performative installation is the first outcome of a larger body of work in which the artist further unpacks her signature practice around identity, place and the unseen world.
Circle is a midnight ritual of sound environments, unusual harmonics and textural listening-scapes.
This modular artwork will also play throughout YIRRAMBOI as a stand alone installation, within the Federation Bells curated program.

Presented By YIRRAMBOI and Federation Bells. With thanks to Australia Council, M.E.S.S., Auspicious Arts Projects, Matthew Gingold and Aunty Fay Stewart Muir.

Play On at the Federation Bells

Celebrate your AFL team’s win at the ’G by visiting Melbourne’s Federation Bells and hear your club’s song played like never before.

Walk across the William Barak pedestrian bridge to Birrarung Marr (towards Federation Square) after the match and take the time to enjoy the winning team’s song on the 39 upturned brass bells.

The Federation Bells also play the songs of competing teams in the hour leading up to each MCG match, so the next time you head to a game at the ’G make sure you stop by the bells to hear your club’s song.

See the MCG Season Fixture


Plum Blossom: Chinese Music for Bells

Cultural Diversity Week 18-26 March
Hourly, 9am to 9pm

Renowned Chinese Australian composer Julian Yu has arranged two traditional melodies for Melbourne’s iconic Federation Bells.

Hear Julian’s arrangement of Plum Blossom, a piece written for the ancient Qin, and Ba Ban, the ‘seed melody’ to hundreds of variant Chinese folk melodies.

Played every hour between 9am and 9pm throughout Cultural Diversity Week.

Program Notes (by Julian Yu)

Plum Blossom

This melody, called Mei Hua San Nong (literally “Three Takes on Plum Blossom”), was discovered in China engraved on ancient bamboo strips dating from about fifteen hundred years ago. It was a piece written for the ancient qin, a seven-stringed zither played by Chinese intellectuals as part of their meditation. The music was written in tablature notation, meaning that it did not directly tell what notes were played; instead, the notation showed tuning, finger positions, and stroke technique, thus comprising a step by step method and description of how to play the piece.
Qin music is the earliest notated music of the east. It is more authentic than Chinese folk music, which has been either lost or distorted from its original form. Its significance is demonstrated by the fact that a sample qin piece was one of the relics sent up in the Apollo spacecraft as a symbol of the culture of mankind.

Ba Ban

In traditional Chinese instrumental music, Ba Ban is considered to be a “seed melody”. Over the centuries, it has given rise to hundreds of variant folk melodies as it was passed down and embellished from one generation to another. Almost anyone who took up a Chinese folk instrument would learn to play it in some form or other.

This piece which I have written for the Federation Bells consists of three versions of Ba Ban. The first is quite simple; the second is moderately embellished; and the third adds still further ornamentation. The piece concludes with a return to the slow, simple beginning of the seed melody.

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