The Quiddity composition project

Quiddity (ˈkwɪdɪti): the essential nature of something or someone

Are you interested to take the Quiddity challenge?

We invite you to compose a piece of music for the Federation Handbells. The Quiddity composition project began with four renowned composers taking the challenge to write a piece of music featuring the Federation Handbells inspired by the theme of 'quiddity'.

Museums Victoria is now extending the challenge to the community to compose for the Federation Handbells.


The Quiddity composition project was created in 2014 for a partnership between Museums Victoria and the Melbourne Recital Centre in which the Federation Handbells were invited to provide experiences to engage and inspire Melbourne Recital Centre patrons.

Quiddity was a component in a suite of activities that included the installation of a set of Federation Handbells in the foyer of the Melbourne Recital Centre for six months (activated by MRC staff and visitors) and also Birthday Bells, a community composition and procession to celebrate the Melbourne Recital Centre’s 5th Birthday.

Four composers won commissions to write music featuring the Federation Handbells inspired by the theme ‘Quiddity’. Quiddity means the essential nature of something or someone.

The compositions premiered at four special pre-concert events at the Melbourne Recital Centre between August 1st and September 12th, 2014.

The composers and their compositions

Martin MartiniThree Songs for the Federation Handbells: I Don’t Have To Be With You, Preying Mantis and Woebegone

Elissa GoodrichAnd after silence…

Adam SimmonsThe Invisible Element

Steve FalkHeliosphere


On this website you will find a number of freely available resources. You can use them as a point of inspiration, as a research tool, or as the basis for a discussion group.

  • Scores of the compositions
  • Performance notes
  • Films of the performances
  • Films of Meet the Artist Sessions

The Quiddity challenge

We invite you to compose your own music for the Federation Handbells. The composition should be written for the Federation Handbells as either the solo instrument or strongly featured in a piece accompanied by other instruments or musical technologies.


You will need to decide:

  • Will you use the theme Quiddity, create your own theme or write without a theme?
  • What instruments, beside the Federation Handbells, will be part of your composition?
  • How many players will perform your piece?
  • How will you score your composition? Standard notation, staves, chord chart, graphic?
  • How long will your piece be?
  • Will you perform your piece live or will you record it as an audio or video file?


  • Did your final composition change much from your original idea? Any pleasant or unpleasant surprises? (Any tips for future players?)
  • Was it strange writing for the Federation Handbells?
  • Did you like having a theme to work from?
  • Who influenced your composition and musical ideas or style?


You can share your composition and performance with us in audio or video and if approved we will place a link on the Federation Handbells website.

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