Music to the ears as a window to the soul

Michael Agzarian
Global Melody Project
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery
, Morrow Street Wagga Wagga NSW
Until 22 March 2020

In 2016, photographer Michael Agzarian’s had his curiosity sparked when he saw headphone-wearing pedestrians waiting at traffic lights. What were they listening to, he wondered.

And so the Global Melody Project was born – a kind of 21st century twist on Name That Tune, said to be the first program on Australian television when it began in 1956.

Michael Agzarian talks about the Global Melody Project

Agzarian walks up to strangers, asks them what they are listening to, and whether he can photograph them. As his exhibition at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery shows, the answers to the first question are sometimes surprising; it’s just about impossible to pick audio preferences just by looking at the listener.

‘All music evokes emotion; what, how, why and where we listen are all important factors that make every music experience as individual as the people listening;’, Agzarian says in his exhibition catalogue.

He describes the project as a catalyst for understanding, an opportunity to communicate with strangers and to shift expectations.

Each photograph is accompanied by a snippet of the music or podcast to which the subject was listening. The music is also available on a Spotify playlist, and Agzarian’s daughter, ‘Nina Las Vegas’, has produced a five-minute mix of the music and podcasts.

If you can’t get to Wagga, you can sample the project at A mobile-friendly version of the audio, which is also accessed via QR code at the exhibition, is at