Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Research Publications

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    The role of artistic creative activities in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia
    Kiernan, F ; Chmiel, A ; GARRIDO, S ; Hickey, M ; Davidson, J ; Hansen, NC ; Wald-Fuhrmann, M ; Davidson, J (Frontiers Media, 2022)
    During the COVID-19 pandemic some Australians turned to artistic creative activities (ACAs) as a way of managing their own mental health and well-being. This study examined the role of ACAs in regulating emotion and supporting mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also attempted to identify at-risk populations. We proposed that (1) participants would use ACAs as avoidance-based emotion regulation strategies; and (2) music engagement would be used for emotion regulation. Australian participants (N = 653) recruited from the general public completed an online survey, which included scales targeting anxiety (GAD7 scale), depression (PHQ9 scale) and loneliness (two UCLA Loneliness Scales, referring to “Before” and “Since” COVID-19). Participants reported which ACAs they had undertaken and ceased during the pandemic using an established list and ranked their undertaken ACAs in terms of effectiveness at making them “feel better.” For their top-ranked ACA, participantsthen completed the Emot on Regulation Scale for Artistic Creative Activities (ERS-ACA), and if participants had undertaken any musical ACAs, also the Musical Engagement Questionnaire (MusEQ). The results supported both hypotheses. ANOVAs indicated that participants ranked significantly higher on the “avoidance” ERS-ACA subscale than the other subscales, and that participants ranked significantly higher on the emotion regulation and musical preference MusEQ subscales than the other subscales. Additionally, while ACAs such as “Watching films or TV shows” and “Cookery or baking” were common, they ranked poorly as effective methods of emotion regulation, whereas “Listening to music” was the second-most frequently undertaken ACA and also the most effective. “Singing” and “Dancing” were among the most ceased ACAs but also ranked among the most effective for emotion regulation, suggesting that support for developing pandemic-safe approaches to these ACAs may provide well-being benefits in future crises. Additionally, correlation analyses howed that younger participants, those who took less exercise during the pandemic, and those with the highest musical engagement reported the poorest well-being.We conclude that ACAs provided an important resource for supporting mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and could potentially support mental health and well-being in future crises.
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    Agua! The flourishing of Latin Music in Melbourne, Australia
    de Bruin, L ; de Bruin, L ; Southcott, J (Routledge, 2022-07-31)
    The Latin American migration experienced in the late 1970s involved numerous and diverse nationalities that found new homes in Australia. Yet, they were largely perceived and collectivised locally as ‘Latin Americans’; a homogeneous social group because of their shared language and regional proximity. Their arrival and settlement met with an already socially and musically typecast identity fashioned via early European oriented ‘continental bands’. This socio-cultural demarcation by the Anglo-European mainstream in Australia encouraged this new wave of Latin American migrants to ‘band’ together under the shared characteristics of language, culture and impromptu music-making. Following the trajectory of the first Latin band in Melbourne, Australia, this qualitative study explores the musical and social meaning-making of five foundational members of the Melbourne Latin music scene. Today’s thriving scene reflects a dynamic ecology in which a sense of community amongst musicians is central, in a city that harbours a vibrant live music scene that not only celebrates South American cultural diversity but also a diverse multicultural participation by musicians, dance studios and wider audiences. However, new immigrants and younger formally educated musicians have begun to develop unique creative voices unburdened by the politics of exile or economic hardship that defined the old-guards’ raison d'être. The perpetually disrupted and dynamic nature of the live music industry means performance opportunities for these foundational immigrants is being eroded. This study reveals interconnection between various bands and musicians that represent a diverse and complex multi-generational community that negotiate heritage and modernity; musical connectivity and Latino/a solidarity; the socio-political, cultural and aesthetic needs of the older generation; and, the changing cultural expectations of 21st century audiences and the diversification this necessitates. It offers implications to music education regarding the changing nature of Latin music, its diasporic influence and the increasing sophistication that reside in populations towards Latin music-making.
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    Jazz education: Revolution or devolution?
    de Bruin, L ; Sutherland, A ; Southcott, J ; de Bruin, L (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022-07-31)
    Jazz has long sat as a troubling concept within academia. Jazz is a dynamic and fluidly evolving set of substyles that relies on the core technique of improvisation that is all too infrequently found within the western art music curriculum. Jazz, as a predominantly improvised music, began its academic life with a fundamentally different identity within the academy that continues to put itself at odds with academic musical culture. Jazz was, and continues to be, an evolving genre that chooses improvisation over the printed page, collective democracy over ordered leadership, and freedom of expression instead of conformity and stasis. Music education was to be altered forever as jazz first became a viable option and then a defining “classical study” in its own right.
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    “If you don’t change you get left behind”: Playing in the Banda Italiana Musicale Vincenzo Bellini in Melbourne, Australia
    de Bruin, L ; Southcott, J ; Willingham, L (WLU Press, 2020-07-15)
    Community Music at the Boundaries examines how music enhances the lives of those living in what might be considered marginalized settings.
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    Beethoven, Vienna and Spain’s Trienio Liberal [Beethoven, Viena y el Trienio Liberal]
    Christoforidis, M ; Tregear, P ; Cascudo García -Villaraco, T (Comares Música, 2021)
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    Enabling Music Students’ Well-Being through Regular Zoom Cohort Chats During the Covid-19 Crises
    Johnson, C ; Merrick, B ; Ferdig, R ; Baumgartner, E ; Hartshorne, R ; Kaplan-Rakowski, R ; Mouza, C (AACE International, 2020)
    The required shift to online music teaching due to COVID-19 resulted in Teacher Education music students needing different approaches for well-being supported through innovative uses of technology for community, collaboration and connection. Using Samaras’ five elements of self-study, two music education instructors in an Australian conservatoire explored the results of regular, weekly live-stream cohort chats (i.e., Wednesday Zoom Café) when facing an unprecedented crisis. Based on the findings, the innovative use of a Zoom café can result when technology is used to: support music student well-being; support organizational design, facilitate clarity of communication; and, create connection, identity and community through socially-constructed technology application. Using these approaches, live-streamed cohort chats can support pre-service music students’ positive wellbeing during a time of unprecedented lockdown and consequential social isolation.
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    Synesthesia and Music Performance
    Glasser, S ; McPherson, GE (Oxford University Press, 2022-02-17)

    Abstract: Synesthesia is a rare neurological condition that occurs more frequently in populations of artistic professionals, with many well-known examples in music. For musicians with synesthesia, their musical journey and development are shaped by the way they connect music and sounds with color, shape, taste, or any other perceptual modality. This chapter therefore attempts to provide information on the impact of synesthesia on music performance by describing musicians’ lived experiences and highlighting the multiplicity of experiences and behavioral outcomes of this group of artists. Six key features are reviewed: preference for specific musical styles, choice of repertoire or music listening, compositional choices, choice of instrument or instrumentation, musical interpretation, and instrumental technique. By studying the impact of synesthesia on various aspects of music performance and describing the lived-world experiences of a unique section of the musical population, the chapter provides both synesthete and non-synesthete musicians with insights into this condition and the range of perceptual responses to music that musicians experience, and what synesthesia may reveal about musical development more generally.

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    Reimagining China in Interwar German Opera: Eugen d’Albert’s Mister Wu and Ernst Toch’s Der Fächer
    Gabriel, J ; Cho, J (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021-10-02)
    This chapter examines how Germany and China’s changed relationship after World War I and Germany’s forced decolonization affected representations of China in German opera through analysis of two operas. The first, Eugen d’Albert and M. Karlev’s Mister Wu (1930–1932), reconfigured the tropes of the Yellow Peril, reflecting the social upheavals experienced by Germany after the war and Germany’s new relationship with its former colonies. The second, Ernst Toch and Ferdinand Lion’s Der Fächer (The Fan, 1927–1930), transported a Chinese fairy tale to present-day Shanghai. Modern China becomes an allegorical site whose similarities to Germany are a means of exploring Germany’s new postwar identity. However, this portrayal also subtly positioned Germany in a dominant role, anticipating post-World War II neocolonialism.
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    “What Exactly Is China” in Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler’s Die Maßnahme (The Measures Taken)
    Gabriel, J ; Cho, JM (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021-06-17)
    The Chinese setting of Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler’s teaching piece Die Maßnahme (The Measures Taken, 1930) has vexed the work’s reception since its premiere. Most modern scholars dismiss the setting as inconsequential and the work as an allegory that could just as well be set anywhere. Critics of the premiere, however, interpreted the work as concretely set in China, but struggled to reconcile the plot with Communist doctrine. This chapter clarifies this contradictory situation and argues that the work’s Chinese setting is both concrete and an allegory for Germany, by demonstrating how Die Maßnahme follows the Comintern’s strategy in China, as opposed to its strategy in Germany, to teach a lesson not about any specific strategy, but about obedience to orders. Additionally, Eisler’s music is used to explain another puzzling aspect of how to interpret the work’s Chinese setting: The lack of obvious references to Chinese traditional culture in either the text, or dramaturgy, or music. Following Communism’s internationalist ambitions, Eisler imagined his music as a new international proletarian music that was meant to be as representative of Chinese Communism as it was of German Communism. Rather than disavowing the Chinese setting, Eisler’s music demonstrates the neocolonial bias in Soviet and European Communist approaches to the colonial world.
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    Musical Creativity in Performance
    van der Schyff, D ; Schiavio, A ; McPherson, GE (Oxford University Press, 2022-02-17)

    Creativity research has generated an impressive body of literature that spans a range of disciplines. Despite this diversity, however, creativity studies have traditionally tended to focus on the evaluation of products generated by creative people, which are categorized in various ways according to their reception and impact on society. This orientation has been advanced in various ways by including factors such as process, personality, and cultural pressures. While these approaches have produced many important insights, it may be argued that the types of creativity involved in music performance involve additional aspects. Musical performance necessarily entails developing forms of bodily skill that play out in real-time interactive contexts that involve other people, musical instruments and technologies, acoustic spaces, and various socio-cultural factors. Accordingly, some scholars have recently posited relational, environmentally distributed, and cooperative models that better capture the complex nature of musical creativity in action. In this chapter, we review some key approaches to creative cognition, with a special focus on understanding creativity as it unfolds in the real-time dynamics of musical performance. In doing so, we introduce a number of concepts associated with recent work in cognitive science that may help to capture the adaptive interplay of body and environment in the co-enactment of musical events.