Program note

Rhyan Clapham lying on a pile of open books
Rhyan Clapham a.k.a. DOBBY, Murrawarri / Filipino composer (Image: Luke Currie-Richardson)

What is truth? Who can tell it? And ultimately, how does truth form tradition?

Rhyan Clapham a.k.a. DOBBY is a rapper, composer, producer and drummer.

He proudly identifies as a Filipino and Aboriginal musician, whose family is from Murrawarri and Ngemba lands (Weilmoringle, Brewarrina NSW).

He has performed extensively locally including PARRTJIMA Festival (NT), BIGSOUND (QLD), OzAsia Festival (SA) and Sydney Opera House, and internationally in Germany, UK, USA and Netherlands, as well as recently alongside BARKAA for the 2021 New Year’s Eve Fireworks.

Recently, he composed all the soundscapes for PARRTJIMA 2021 & 2022 (Alice Springs, NT), and the music behind Australia’s first 500-strong drones show (Elevate Sydney). In June 2022, DOBBY premiered WARRANGU; River Story at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in partnership with Vivid Sydney, a body of work created from his Peter Sculthorpe Fellowship.

In 2020, DOBBY took out best video for ‘I Can’t Breathe’ at the FBi SMAC Awards. The unofficial anthem of Australia’s Bla(c)k Lives Matter movement, this song is used throughout Australian schools alongside curriculum materials to assist in educating students.

DOBBY is a multi-instrumentalist increasingly known for bouncing between piano, drums and drum pads, with his unique signature ‘drapping’ (simultaneous rapping and drumming).

He completed a Bachelor of Music at UNSW and an Indigenous Studies Honours focusing on Aboriginal Hip Hop music in 2015. He currently holds a three-year position as the Indigenous Convenor at the ANU Open School of Music.


World premiere, new CSO commission

History is written only by those in power, and informs Australia’s collective memory. Only now are we able to have conversations of this nation’s dark history and systemic racism, yet we still can’t find ourselves on the same page.

In the lyrics of this piece with the CSO Chamber Ensemble, I am resurfacing old journal entries of Cook and fellow colonists who first invaded, to ultimately challenge listeners on the idea of truth. What is truth? Who can tell it? Who calls it ‘truth’ and what is collectively understood as truth? And ultimately, how does truth form tradition?

© Rhyan Clapham, 2022

Related Articles

Skip to content