Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 130
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The Performer/Curator: Expanding the Parameters of Artistic Expression and Creativity in a Concert
    Lallo, Joseph ( 2022)
    The focus of this research is the performer/curator, and the search to reimagine the presentation of the musical and extra-musical elements of a concert. Five live concerts, designed and presented using a range of conceptual methods, serve to provide insight into the creative processes of the performer/curator. An examination of the concert frame – the parameters within which a concert is organised and experienced – reveals the factors that most influence concert design and presentation. Identifying these factors gives performers a structured way of recognising their creative freedoms and identifying the aspects of the concert experience they can shape as part of their artistic expression and creativity. The process of using a meta-narrative to guide the curation of the concert frame is shown to expand the performer’s potential to create innovative and personal musical experiences and provides a coherent and unifying method to curate a concert.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Thinking About Syncing. Examining the impact of 21st century DJ technology on the production and performance of Electronic Dance Music
    Callander, Michael ( 2022)
    The introduction of synchronisation (sync) to the DJ’s professional toolkit in the early 2000s proved to be controversial and divisive. Until that point, DJs had been so focused on beatmatching – the manual process of tempo-setting and alignment of tracks – that many dismissed sync as ‘cheating’. Concern over technology-assisted creative output is not unique to Electronic Dance Music (EDM); David Hockney’s investigation into the use of optical aids by the Old Masters highlighted similar perspectives in visual art. As sync has simplified some of the mechanical aspects of DJing, DJs have shifted away from building sets by sequencing pre-recorded audio – often made by other music producers – towards an approach that incorporates improvisatory composition and production. This thesis, comprised of a creative folio of performance works and a contextual review of their execution, is the result of a practice-led enquiry into 21st century DJing, distinct from the tradition of selecting and playing records on turntables. For my major work, Real Time, Online, I utilised the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Ableton Live to arrange original works in real-time, and moved beyond audio to incorporate video synthesis and video mixing. For Locked Groove Mix 2, a developmental work, I arranged fifty-one loops, each representing only 1.8 seconds of original audio, in real-time as part of a long-form DJ performance. Through a process of reflective practice and critical review of technique and repertoire both pre- and post-sync, this thesis discusses how technology shapes and informs the realisation of a DJ set, highlighting how sync has catalysed a disconnect between the performer, their gestures, the source material and audiences, necessitating a rethink on how we demonstrate and recognise technical virtuosity in performance. It concludes by arguing that virtuosity in modern DJing is primarily a product of instrument configuration and pre-production, an amalgamation of formerly distinct production and performance techniques, and it identifies how sync’s affordances might inform future views on DJ practice and the presentation of EDM.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Melodic Excursions: The Brazilian cavaquinho’s global journey
    May, Adam John ( 2021)
    This research project explores the long and diverse history of the cavaquinho through a combination of practical performance and archival research. This four-string soprano guitar is a ubiquitous instrument in several musical cultures and its origins may be traced to Portugal where very similar instruments have been in use since the seventeenth century. The cavaquinho, and closely related instruments, spread across the globe along routes of migration and this study will focus on four key traditions, those of Brazil, Portugal, Indonesia, and Hawaii. These historical links will be investigated through recorded performances played on the modern Brazilian cavaquinho, together with written analysis of historical and performance contexts. A diverse portfolio of recordings showcases performance practices and repertoires from the nineteenth century, through to the flourishing tradition of the twentieth century and new and emerging contemporary genres. The Brazilian cavaquinho is the instrument through which I engage with these contrasting repertoires, drawing on the richness of the instrument’s technique and performance style. The recordings are not presented as historical recreations, but as extensions of the distinct evolving traditions through the application of contemporary practices. Collaborations with renowned international practitioners feature on many of the recordings, and the creative element of this thesis extends to original arrangements and compositions. Through a combination of performance recordings, research, analysis and original arrangements and compositions, this project demonstrates how the cavaquinho is the perfect vehicle to illuminate and reinvigorate historically linked traditions and styles.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    'How I wonder what you are': Interpreting the child's early experiences of learning to play the cello
    MacArthur, Stephanie Louise Ryan ( 2022)
    This thesis investigates and interprets the lived experiences of 14 beginner cello students studied between the ages of 7 - 9 years of age as they encounter the instrument and one-to-one lessons. It examines how personal factors and relationships with others contribute to their musical skill development and influences longer-term future engagement. Studied from the children’s perspective, this research offers rare and novel insight into children’s deep and rich thought processes and actions in relation to their musical development and considers how these can shift over time to reflect the changing scope of their musical investment. Throughout the study, I worked with the children as the cello teacher, thereby occupying an insider’s position as the researcher. This opportunity enabled me to investigate how my reflexive responses to the children, evolving with their fluctuating idiosyncratic learning needs, impacted their ongoing musical engagement. To capture the student and teacher experiences, the research employed two qualitative research methodologies, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and Participatory Action Research. This unique pairing of methodological approaches provided complementary data sets that, taken together, offer meaningful interwoven perspectives on instrumental music learning and teaching with implications for sustaining learner engagement and innovating teaching practice. The findings indicate that participants’ initial reasons for learning were motivated by a range of intrapersonal factors and interpersonal relationships, and when these were sustained and broadened, the children were more likely to invest in future engagement. Musical practice occurred as a six-phase process that was affected by the quality of children’s thought, actions, and response. Musical performance was experienced in four environments and perceived by the children as optimal when it was underpinned by positive emotional valence and feelings of competency. The investigation reveals that seven of the students experienced diverse learning needs that extended beyond individual difference and led to difficulty in skill acquisition. Key adults were vital to engagement, with parents playing a central role in supporting the children’s ability to persist with the range of challenges that presented during skill development. Further, a teacher-student dyad built on trust, rapport and adaptability importantly supported the children’s sense of emotional safety and creative freedom in learning. Teacher-learner shared enthusiasm for the cello and a collaborative approach to skill development was found to further galvanise children’s ongoing interest. Critically, from an early stage of learning, the children were found to experience significant transformational internal effects during their musical skill development. These were characterised by the interaction of the children’s imagination, curiosity, and emotional response, and were found to contribute to profound immersive experiences of creative musical play that generated intrinsic motivation for continued engagement. This investigation of children’s early experiences in musical development offers important new knowledge in how children perceive and interact with musical development, how their individual needs can be met through flexible teaching and learning processes, and one that advocates for children by recognising that their desires to be active agents in creative engagement and ongoing musicianship are present and require support from the very beginning of their learning.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Louise Hanson-Dyer (1884–1962): Supporter of Women in the Arts
    Laughlin, Thalia Samantha ( 2022)
    Louise Hanson-Dyer’s (1884–1962) contribution to twentieth-century culture was remarkable and made a significant impact on the arts. From her early days as an energetic organiser of artistic events in Melbourne to her founding and running of the Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre in Paris and Monaco, she worked tirelessly to advance the careers of composers, performers, visual artists, and musicologists—many of whom were women. She provided employment and support to women during a time when they were hindered by patriarchal social structures and created opportunities for them by publishing and recording their work, including them in concerts, and promoting them throughout her widespread, artistic networks. This thesis examines Hanson-Dyer’s multifaceted support of women in the arts in the first half of the twentieth century and traces the ways in which she used her time, money, and connections to elevate their work. The wealth of extant archival materials, such as her letters, press articles, and contracts, indicate that she was aware of the political and social disadvantages faced by women and provided them ongoing support and employment, paying them equally to men. I argue that Hanson-Dyer’s support of women can today be understood as a feminist undertaking. This thesis incorporates modern scholarly literature on women’s patronage and women’s history, alongside extensive archival research in Australia, France, England, and Switzerland, to shed new light on notable yet little-known, artistic collaborations. It provides a contextual and historical re-evaluation of Hanson-Dyer’s work with women, contributing not only to the existing scholarship on her, but also to the broader field of women’s work in the twentieth century. This thesis is ordered thematically rather than chronologically and each chapter details Hanson-Dyer’s work with women of the same profession: the musicologists Yvonne Rokseth, Jeanne Marix, and Imogen Holst; composers Margaret Sutherland and Peggy Glanville-Hicks; visual artists Rose Adler and Marie Laurencin; and harpsichordist Isabelle Nef.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Allan Holdsworth: Principles of Harmonic Organisation in Selected Compositions
    Freer, Nicholas ( 2021)
    This thesis analyses selected post-tonal compositions by contemporary guitarist Allan Holdsworth. This thesis uses the pitch-class set-theory model as a basis of analysis. It also engages contemporary post-tonal extensions to existing tonal concepts such as voice leading in set-class space, consonance and dissonance measures, transposition and symmetry. Within the thesis and the Holdsworth compositions selected, various levels of connections are explicated through harmonic analysis of surface level transformations, succession analysis from individual simultaneities up to macro-organisational structures and formal processes. Holdsworth consciously eschews the harmonically prescriptive functionality and acculturated melodic syntax of traditional tonal jazz (often replicated through imitation), purposely manifesting his own paradigm. This paradigm has several key components: an expansion of chord-scale principles, a wide range of referential sets utilised as linear and vertical sources of pitch-class grouping, the employment of non-tertian harmony, and the utilisation of non-functional harmonic succession(s).
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Understanding the role of therapeutic choirs in the lives of people living with dementia and their family and friends who support them.
    Thompson, Zara Elizabeth ( 2021)
    This thesis includes a series of four research projects which aimed to further understanding of how participating in therapeutic, community-based choirs can support people who are living with dementia and their family members and friends who support them with care. These projects aimed to centre the perspectives of people living with dementia and those caring for a family member or close friend with dementia, and as such, a qualitative approach was adopted in all studies. A mixed studies systematic review of the literature relating to singing for people living with dementia and care-partners was conducted to explore the current understanding of how singing can provide support. Findings revealed that people living with dementia and care-partners perceive in-the-moment and longer-term benefits from group singing, but measuring the specific benefits using quantitative outcome measures is challenging due to complex variables, evidenced through high prevalence of floor and ceiling effects in many quantitative outcomes. The second project sought the perspectives of music therapy researchers and past research participants regarding how accessibility of qualitative interviews could be optimised for people living with dementia. Four care-partners and three music therapy researchers were interviewed, and data was analysed using an inductive thematic analysis method. Findings revealed that familiarity and rapport between researcher and participants is important for comfort and accessibility, and that flexibility during the interview, including using music or other art-based approaches may also enhance accessibility. These findings were used to inform the data collection procedure for the third and fourth studies. The third study adopted a phenomenological approach to understand the perspectives of participants with dementia and care-partners who participated in two community-based, therapeutic choirs that were formed as part of the Remini-Sing project – a randomised controlled trial led by two supervisors of this thesis. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse interview data from 14 dyads. Findings revealed perceived benefits of participating in the choirs, including fostering positive feelings, enhancing social connection, and supporting identity. Participants highlighted how aspects of the choir and the research project more broadly impacted their experience of the choirs, and provided some important insights regarding future research design and sustainability of programs beyond the research project. The final project is an arts-based, phenomenologically informed study in which members of a long-running community-based, therapeutic choir for people living with dementia and care-partners reflected on their experience of transitioning to an online format during the COVID19 pandemic. A combination of songwriting and traditional interviews were used to collect data, and an adapted form of IPA, integrated with arts-based methods of songwriting, poetry, and improvisation, were used to analyse data. Findings are presented in the form of an 18-part song cycle, in which participant perspectives on living with dementia, the COVID19 pandemic, and singing in the choir (both in-person and on line) are shared. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how the four projects contribute to an understanding of the perceived benefits of choir singing for people with dementia and care-partners, potential mechanisms that may influence these benefits, and factors that can enhance accessibility of therapeutic choirs.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Finding flow: constraint and the creative process
    Humphries, Alice Miranda ( 2021)
    The application of constraints during the process of music composition can be creatively stimulating and directive. However, constraint is potentially restrictive when acting as restraint, stifling the spontaneity of musical idea or the instinctual flow of creative process. A creative folio at its core, this research examines how the application and consequent dissolution of constraints during the compositional process affect musical outcome. The dissertation presents an in-depth analysis of select folio works to illuminate how constraints were constructed and implemented, when and why rules were broken, and how this influenced musical outcome. The thesis then examines how use of constraints evolved over the course of the folio, reflecting on the concept of flow and creative process. The work evaluates how the application of constraints aides in resolving compositional problems as well as facilitating a state of flow during the creative act.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Helen Gifford’s Fable (1967) for solo harp: A multivalent analysis
    Dennett, Jacinta Irene ( 2021)
    My research presents performance and recordings of solo harp compositions by Australian composers. The following composers are included in my performance portfolio: Eve Duncan, Jennifer Fowler, Helen Gifford, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Alicia Grant, Miriam Hyde, Elena Kats-Chernin, and Johanna Selleck. There are three components to my research, the written dissertation, the performance portfolio, and a critical edition for publication. The focus of the written component of my portfolio is a comprehensive critical and analytical study of Helen Gifford’s "Fable," a significant work in the repertoire of Australian harp music that has not been studied before. I document Gifford’s compositional process in the creation of the harp solo and reveal her use of Walter Piston’s "Orchestration" as a guide. Study and performances of "Fable" have additionally created an original performance analysis that fuses Carlos Salzedo’s Instrumental Esthetics, and Rudolf Steiner’s eurythmy. A 60-minute audio recording of harp solos by eight Australian composers, including a new work I commissioned from Alicia Grant makes up my performance portfolio. Two of the compositions, have accompanying video recording (a total of 20-minutes), "Threaded Stars 2" (2006) by Jennifer Fowler and "Three pieces" (2017) by Alicia Grant. Two world-premiere public performances (and recording) of works for solo harp by Australian composers were also given: "Threaded Stars 2" (2006) by Jennifer Fowler, July 17, 2016, Brighton Town Hall, Brighton, VIC; and "Three Pieces" for harp (2017) by Alicia Grant, June 8, 2017, The Chapel, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, Bunbury, WA. A further research outcome includes the creation of a new, annotated critical edition of Fable for publication. This undertaking has been supported by interviews and workshops with Gifford.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Beyond barriers: Creating a space for deeper connection between individuals from diverse religious traditions through a dialogic group music therapy process
    Notarangelo, Astrid Danielle ( 2021)
    This project has emerged in response to a community need to create further platforms for interfaith dialogue in Bendigo, a regional city in Victoria, Australia. Community tensions about a new mosque highlighted a need to build stronger relationships amongst the interfaith and wider community. These tensions were at odds with my experiences of creating musical spaces for the expression and exploration of diverse spiritual and religious identity as a music therapist at the local hospital. In these spaces, listening and respect mattered. My close proximity to people with diverse religious perspectives helped me to be more aware of diverse others in the community and of the current tensions. I wanted to see how music could help. An ethnographic approach captured the journey from the institutional context out into the community to engage in a community-based research project, a collaboration with the interfaith community in Bendigo. A cyclic, emergent action research process evolved into a series of focus groups where individual lived experiences of religion and religious rituals were shared, using music as a focus and a support for communication. Eleven collaborators from six different religious traditions in Bendigo came together to take part in a dialogic group music therapy process – musical presentation (Amir, 2012). This process offers a model for listening and engaging in a group. From this process, music playlists, drawings, focus group dialogue and phone interview feedback were generated. This material revealed the strong sense of connection that collaborators felt with others in the group and their enjoyment of coming together to share diverse faith identities in this creative space. The process also highlighted that the vulnerability and challenges that come from engaging in creative processes were valuable and brought new perspectives and growth. The vitality of music as a mode of communication, through which identity, feelings, memory and culture can be explored was highlighted. Collaborators commented on the depth of the experience and the connection to others within a short space of time. Despite the different associations collaborators each had with music, they saw it as helpful in communicating religious identity. Music supported the group to remove some of the usual barriers that existed between them in this new creative space. One of the key statements developed through collaborator feedback was that “This process has the potential to increase understanding, knowledge, and connection in our community”. The project highlights the importance of creating spaces for the exploration and sharing of diverse religious identity. Possibilities for music therapists as advocates, negotiators and community-builders in these kinds of processes are also raised. Engaging in a dialogic group music process highlighted a form of ‘attunement’ between collaborators that related to musical concepts and processes. Music’s capacity to re-conceptualise broader processes and relationships was also highlighted through connecting this project to the concept of ‘community as a harmonic landscape’, as a way of sharing the project with the wider community. Collaborators felt that the process they experienced could act as a ‘stepping stone’ into further creative community action.