Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    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.
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    “Biographical Milestones”: Interpreting Sixty Years of Larry Sitsky’s Stylistic Evolution in Australia (1959–2019) Through a Comparative Analysis of His Solo Flute Works
    Shon, Stephanie Athina ( 2021)
    This thesis interprets the stylistic evolution of Australian composer, Larry Sitsky, by categorising his compositions (1959–2019) into five distinctive ‘periods’. An analysis of Sitsky’s six solo flute works composed between 1959 and 2019 provides a framework for this examination. The near-equidistant placement of the solo flute works within Sitsky’s compositional timeline renders them useful milestones from which to analyse his creative evolution. The underpinning research question asks what identifies the stylistic characteristics of Larry Sitsky’s works across his compositional evolution, as seen through the prism of his six works for solo flute? This research draws upon historical and descriptive musicological methodologies and uses case studies and analysis as the main tools. The stylistic periods are identified through an analysis of the distinguishing compositional influences, devices, and styles used in Sitsky’s compositions at various stages in his career and explores how these characteristics were influenced by extramusical stimuli and contemporaneous compositional developments. Sitsky’s compositional evolution reveals a process of constant and conscious transformation across five periods. First, Sitsky’s “Early Mature Period”, dating from 1959 to 1962, is characterised by his efforts to embrace a more modern idiom in his earliest mature compositions. Second, the “Modernist Period” from 1963–1969 exhibits his exploration of Modernist compositional techniques such as serialism, aleatoricism, and musique concrete. The composer’s adoption of Expressionism and engagement with Asian and mystic stimuli is observable in the “Mystic Expressionism Period” which dates from 1970–1982. Sitsky’s fourth period, the “Armenian Period” traverses the years 1983–1986 and includes a series of works for solo instruments inspired by Armenian folk-music. Fifth, the “Late Mature Period” reveals a neo-romantic though eclectic synthesis of earlier compositional experiments from the years 1987–2019. By exhibiting the characteristics of the five chronological periods, Sitsky’s flute works embody a microcosm of his compositional oeuvre. This thesis also identifies distinctive stylistic qualities that contribute to a ‘Sitskian’ aesthetic, such as: an Expressionistic character, chant topics and portamento; chromatic or bitonal ‘smudging’; irregular rhythms and polymetre; mosaic and episodic forms or improvisatory structures; small recurring chromatic cells; decorative fioritura; the portrayal of a musical progression from one ‘state’ to another; and, the use of non-programmatic extramusical springboards inspired by mystical or mythological sources. By drawing upon an historical examination of Sitsky’s compositional trajectory and artistic context in Australia from the late 1950s until 2019, this thesis situates Sitsky’s compositional periods in relation to several sociocultural developments. While existing scholarship on this composer has explored aspects of his compositional language, none provide a detailed explanation or contextual overview of the compositional shifts. This thesis addresses a scholarly lacuna by clearly identifying the characteristics and context of Sitsky’s stylistic evolution. It also addresses a gap in scholarly engagement with Australian flute music. By connecting the musical analysis to related historical and social aspects, this thesis offers a many-dimensioned illumination of an aspect of this era of art music composition in Australia.
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    Hyper-visibility and under-representation: inclusivity, diversity, and the alternative music scene in Melbourne
    D'Cruz Barnes, Isobel Irene ( 2020)
    This ethnographic study documents the lived experience of People of Colour (PoC) making alternative and punk music in Melbourne, Australia. Exploring local discourse on cultural diversity, inclusivity and racial difference, I offer previously undocumented Australian perspectives on race and popular music. The study traces issues of whiteness, anti-racism and punk in Australia down to three key components: subculture, genre and capital. Through formal, semi-structured interviews, the study asks how notions of cultural diversity impact alternative music scenes. I argue that PoC in these scenes experience race-based exclusion, both a result of the longstanding erasure of PoC from written histories of Western punk, combined with Australia’s specific position as a white multicultural, settler-colonial nation. In challenging the notion of punk as a white musical tradition, and recognising the specific conditions that foster racism in Australian music scenes, my informants and I discuss how anti-racist values may be meaningfully embodied in local music contexts.
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    Facing the Music: d/Deafness, Music and Culture in Australia
    Hedt, Alex Louise ( 2020)
    “Capital-D” Deaf culture transcends the medical diagnosis of deafness as deficit to celebrate a positive cultural-linguistic identity. Shared sign languages and the lived experience of d/Deafness have fostered uniquely Deaf creative practices, including musical ones. Internationally, scholars have examined music-making within this community and amongst those who identify as audiologically, or lowercase-d, deaf. Despite a thriving Deaf arts scene in Melbourne, however, the local evolution of d/Deaf musical practice remains poorly understood. Who makes the music that d/Deaf Australians encounter, and why? How might Australian Sign Language (Auslan) combine with other local socio-economic factors to shape d/Deaf music access, understanding and production? This thesis initially uses archival research to construct the first history of music in Melbourne’s Deaf community from 1884 to the present day, positioning musical practices within a narrative of institutionalisation and resistance which offers context for today’s Deaf arts. Subsequent chapters present an ethnography of musical and cultural practice amongst d/Deaf Australians, examining how music features in arts and cultural practices led by Deaf people, how it is made accessible through Auslan interpretation, and the ways in which growing up d/Deaf in Australia shapes attitudes to music. Interviews with Deaf community members and allies—Auslan interpreters, Teachers of the Deaf and d/Deaf music fans—and participant-observation at d/Deaf accessible and Deaf-led events reveal that music has considerable value to d/Deaf Australians. This value is located not in the musical works themselves, but in the opportunities they provide for advocacy, education, social interaction and identity formation. The latter part of the thesis problematises the distinction between physical and cultural deafness in the Australian context, carving out a space for liminal deaf identities through the lens of betweenity. In doing so, the work invites broader conceptions of musical accessibility. By situating Australia on a global map of d/Deaf and disability music scholarship, this thesis paves the way for further research.
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    Exhibiting music: music and international exhibitions in the British Empire, 1879-1890
    Kirby, Sarah ( 2018)
    Between 1879 and 1890 there was barely a year in which an international exhibition was not held somewhere within the British Empire. These monumental events were intended to demonstrate, through comparative and competitive displays, the development of every branch of human endeavour: from industry and manufacturing, to art and design. They were also a massive and literal manifestation of the Victorian obsession with collecting, ordering, and classifying the world and its material contents. Though often considered in scholarly terms of grandiosity—of Victorian monumentalism and Benjamin-esque phantasmagoria—exhibitions were also social events, attended by individual members of the public for both education and entertainment. Music, as a fundamental part of cultural life in the societies that held such events, was prominent at all these exhibitions. This thesis interrogates the role of music at the international exhibitions held in the British Empire during the 1880s, arguing that the musical aspects of these events demonstrate, in microcosm, the broader musical traditions, purposes, arguments, and anxieties of the day. Further, it argues that music in all its forms—whether in performance or displays of related objects, and whether deliberately or inadvertently—was codified, ordered, and all-round ‘exhibited’ within the exhibition-sphere in multiple ways. Exploring thirteen exhibitions held in England, Scotland, Australia and India it traces ideas and trends relating to music and the idea of ‘display’ across the imperial cultural network. This thesis begins with an historical survey of music and exhibitions in London from the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the 1880s, analysed through the lens of contemporary discourses around music and concepts of display, and recent museological scholarship on the presentation of musical art in physical space. Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, several broad concepts relating to music at the 1880s exhibitions are then examined. These include a discussion of musical instruments as spectacularised commodities within the phantasmagoric exhibition space, music as both an educational device and a means of entertainment and leisure in line with contemporary theories of rational recreation, and the ways exhibitions created forums for engagement for Western audiences with non-Western musics.
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    Marjorie Lawrence’s Australian and European troop tours, 1944-1946
    Lincoln-Hyde, Ellan A. ( 2016)
    In 1944 While the Australian Army battled Japanese troops in New Guinea and the Allied Nations continued the fight against Axis forces in Europe, a performance of German operatic works sung by Marjorie Lawrence was being cheered on at a remote army base in Australia’s Northern Territory. By 1946 Lawrence was singing the same German repertoire in Berlin to an audience of United States, Russian, French and British Generals accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic. This dissertation aims to answer why an opera singer was chosen to entertain one of the biggest military audiences of World War II in Australia, why an Australian was chosen to sing at the highly diplomatic Berlin concert in 1946, why Lawrence was singing Wagner, Richard Strauss and other German composers’ works to Allied forces at all and on both occasions, why Lawrence sang the repertoire she did.
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    Rediscovering Mirrie Hill (1889-1986): composer in her own right
    Pearce, Rowena ( 2002)
    Australian composer, pianist and educator Mirrie Hill (nee Solomon) was born in Sydney in 1889. She studied piano with Joseph Kretschmann and Laurence Godfrey-Smith, theory with Ernest Truman and composition with Alfred Hill. The outbreak of World War One in 1914 thwarted Mirrie Solomon's plans to study music in Europe and led to her entering the newly established New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music. In 1916, she was awarded a composition scholarship by the Director, Henri Verbrugghen. She later took on the role of Assistant Professor of Harmony, Counterpoint and Composition at the Conservatorium from 1918 until1944. Her teaching position and role as an examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board served as complementary interests to her primary work as a composer. In 1921 Mirrie Solomon married the renowned Australian composer Alfred Hill. This marriage had a considerable impact on her ability to establish a reputation as a composer in her own right, and her contributions to Australian music have been largely overshadowed by Alfred Hill's more prominent status. Mirrie Hill composed over five hundred works across many genres. She wrote symphonic works, chamber music and film music and was a prolific writer of art songs, piano works and elementary works for children. Almost half of her compositions were published in Australia and many of her orchestral works were performed, broadcast and recorded during her lifetime. Mirrie Hill's reputation as a composer of 'miniatures' has lingered, despite her remarkable successes in other areas of music. To date, no in-depth study of Mirrie Hill has been attempted, and as such, her substantial creative output and contributions to Australian music have gone largely unrecognised. This thesis will explore both biographical and musical aspects of the composer and is intended as an overview of Mirrie Hill's contribution to many facets of Australian music throughout her lifetime.
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    Composer, wife and mother: Margaret Sutherland as conflicted subject
    GRAHAM, JILLIAN ( 2001)
    Margaret Sutherland (1897-1984) is regarded as one of the most innovative and influential Australian composers of the first half of the twentieth century. As early as the 1920s, she could be compared with contemporary composers in Europe who were reacting against aspects of the Romantic style of the nineteenth century. Sutherland was brought up in the midst of a liberal, intellectual, creative and artistic family, in which her principal role models were single women and intellectual men, and her musical aspirations were encouraged and fostered. Having studied for two years in Europe (1923-1925), she returned to Australia, where she expected to develop her vocation as a composer. In 1927 she married, and had two children, the first in 1929 and the second in 1931.During her troubled marriage she experienced conflict beyond her expectations in combining the pursuit of her musical aspirations with her domestic responsibilities as wife and mother. To date, an in-depth feminist biographical study of Sutherland has not been attempted, yet the challenges women face in successfully combining marriage, motherhood and career can only be revealed through closer inspection of this female experience. Using a methodology derived from contemporary feminist biographical theory, the basis for and manifestation of the conflict Sutherland experienced between her public, musical and her private, domestic roles will be explored. It will be shown that in spite of the difficulties faced as a woman composer and in her private life, she managed to achieve a considerable amount, making contributions which should be valued, both in the private, domestic sphere, and in her public life as composer and champion of the interests of Australian composers and Australian music in general. The nature of her achievements suggests that she had the tenacity to avoid being smothered by the unhappiness of her circumstances, or to allow her individuality and ambitions to be thwarted by domesticity.
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    Percy Grainger's promotion of early music to Australian audiences in 1934: a critical evaluation
    Wong, Maria Goretti ( 2003)
    This thesis examines the argument made by Roger Covell in his 1967 Australia's Music in which he stated that Grainger's promotion of unfamiliar music, including early music to the Australian audiences in his 1934 Australian tour had been ineffective. Covell's argument was that Australia, at that time, was a conservative musical society 'that had barely considered the possibility of merit in any music outside the standard European classics' (p. 99). This thesis argues that Grainger's promotion of early music had not been ineffective but had an impact on the Australian audiences. This conclusion is reached after examining the press reception of Grainger's inclusion of early music in his lecture-recitals and orchestral concerts.
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    Ideals and realities: a study of the life of Franklin Peterson
    Crichton, Ian Kieran ( 2009)
    The purpose of this thesis is to examine the career of the second Ormond Professor of Music in the University of Melbourne, Franklin Peterson (1861-1914, Professor 1901-1914), to reassess his achievements in light of a fuller knowledge of his career, and to assert his place in the development of music as a professionally-oriented discipline at the University. Peterson is a relatively unknown figure in the history of the University of Melbourne, and perceptions of him have been filtered through the prism of the scandal that accompanied the ejection of his predecessor, George W.L. Marshall-Hall, from the Ormond Chair in 1900. Peterson has been characterised as a conservative and reactionary figure, yet his principal achievement was the introduction of performance studies into the music degree, which was taught through the Conservatorium structure established by the University in 1895. Peterson's career prior to the Ormond Chair has never been adequately investigated, and this thesis clarifies his work at the University of Melbourne in light of a fuller knowledge of his writings, associations and activities during the 1880s and 1890s. Peterson's work at the University of Melbourne has implications for the wider history of the professionalization of musicians because he implemented reforms that made the University one of the first such institutions in the British Empire, if not the world, to offer music degrees that included a test of performance ability in the graduation requirements. This investigation follows a methodology based on Magali Sarfatti Larson's sociological analysis of profession. The key concept in this analysis is ‘cognitive exclusiveness,’ which for the purposes of this thesis consists of four interdependent factors: the definition and organization of a body of specialized knowledge, implementation of structures for transmitting and testing the acquisition of this body of specialized knowledge, participation in professional activities and discourse, and the use of knowledge as a tool of market control. Peterson's formation was cosmopolitan, with studies undertaken in his native Scotland, in Germany, and at the University of Oxford. Peterson's earliest activities show an interest in educational work, commencing with his role as organist at Palmerston Place Church, Edinburgh, and as a founder of the Edinburgh Bach Society. Prior to his appointment in Melbourne, Peterson's writings included a large number of articles for the Monthly Musical Record and publication of textbooks. Peterson's reforms to the structure and content of the music courses at the University of Melbourne reflected his writings and activities during the 1890s. This thesis advances a new interpretation of Peterson's establishment of the Conservatorium Examinations Board, showing how it resulted in the erosion of influence of other bodies of professional authority, including the Musical Society of Victoria and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Peterson's work at the University of Melbourne established a model for music degrees that remains normative in Australia, and was copied by McGill University in Canada in 1910. His achievement in establishing a performance-based music degree, which was adopted throughout Australia, makes him one of the most influential music pedagogues this country has known.