Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    Exploring the rehabilitative potential of familiar song for paediatric patients presenting with an acute disorder of consciousness
    Bower, Janeen Maree ( 2023)
    This thesis includes four studies that contribute to the exploration of the rehabilitative potential of familiar song for children presenting with an acute disorder of consciousness (DoC) following severe acquired brain injury (ABI). A DoC is common sequelae of severe ABI in children, and is the result of a sudden interruption in the complex interplay of arousal and awareness. While evidence supporting the use of music in the assessment and treatment of adults presenting with a DoC continues to emerge, the unique developmental context of paediatric ABI necessitates child specific research. Four discrete studies are included in thesis and contribute to the research agenda of describing the behavioural and neural responses to familiar song of children presenting with an acute DoC. The systematic review ‘The Neurophysiological Processing of Music in Children: A Systematic Review with Narrative Synthesis and Considerations for Clinical Practice in Music Therapy’ included 46 neuroimaging studies describing music processing in neurotypical children aged 0-18 years. The narrative synthesis yielded a timeline of significant developments of musical processing. Further, comprehensive considerations for clinical practice for music therapists working with paediatric neurologic population were developed. The results of the systematic review provide a theoretical foundation for the use of familiar song to support consciousness recovery in children presenting with a DoC. When developing the study to empirically describe the neural and behavioural responses to familiar song of children presenting with an acute DoC, it was necessary to first develop a tool to objectively describe behavioural responses. The Music Interventions in Paediatric DoC Behaviour Observation Record (MBR) was developed and piloted. Results of the pilot established that the MBR has content validity, and sufficient inter-rater-reliability to objectively capture the subtle and idiosyncratic responses of children presenting with a DoC during a music therapy intervention. Subsequent to the completion of the pilot, the MBR was utilised in the collection of behavioural data in the case study of a child presenting with an acute DoC The use of EEG in music therapy research with children presenting with a DoC affords the opportunity to describe responses even in the absence of an observable behaviour. To pilot the use of EEG with children, a feasibility study (n = 4) was undertaken using data pragmatically collected within the acute hospital setting. Unique changes in the underlying frequency components of the EEG were recorded during the song condition that were not observed in either the comparative speech or noise conditions. The study showed feasibility of a uniquely hypothesis driven method of multivariate EEG analysis, and added to the current knowledge base by describing the EEG signal in response to whole song as an ecologically valid music stimulus. The piloting of the MBR and multivariate method of EEG analysis ultimately supported the development of multiple baseline crossover case study, of an 11-year old presenting with an acute DoC, in which the behavioural and neural responses to song were described. For this child, familiar song was found to stimulate a greater behavioural and neural response, indicative of an increase in arousal and awareness, than comparative speech or noise conditions. This study provides foundational evidence supporting the use of familiar song to increase consciousness in children presenting with an acute DoC following severe ABI
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    Rubato in Scriabin’s 24 Preludes Op. 11: The Score and Piano Roll Recordings
    Xi, Joy Huan ( 2022)
    The Twenty-Four Preludes Op. 11 of Alexander Scriabin, written over a period of eight years between 1888 and 1896, are a quintessential representation of the composer’s first period of composition. This collection of pieces presents to modern day pianists the challenge of conceiving an interpretation representative of the freer performing culture of Scriabin’s time. In performing the Twenty-Four Preludes Op. 11, performers of the work should give recognition to the score as a communicator of the composer’s rubato style. Within the current literature, studies have thoroughly documented Scriabin’s performing style, focusing particularly on his unique approach to rubato through the analysis of his recordings; however, research has largely ignored the role of the composer’s score markings and indications as directions for rubato. This study aims to explore Scriabin’s use of score directions to convey rubato through a concurrent investigation of his recordings of Preludes Nos. 1, 2, 13 and 14 and the written music. Findings evidence a correlation between Scriabin’s performance of rubato and the different markings and indications in the score, which, aside from his tempo directions, are not necessarily associated with tempo modification. The results of this study provide a framework that performers may use to inform their interpretation of the Twenty-Four Preludes Op. 11, as well as other Scriabin works. This thesis serves as part of a component worth 25% in compliment to larger performance exam worth 75%.
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    Latvian Classical Violin Music in Transition, 1980-2000
    Kirsanova, Sofija ( 2022)
    This research explores classical music in Latvia during the period of the Baltic Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet transition. Culture played a major role in this time. As Latvia became independent, it also sought a new, individual voice in music. This research explores the impact of the economic and politic changes on Latvian classical music with a focus on violin through interviews with musicians, newspapers and violin music as a medium reflecting this exciting time in Latvia's history. The thesis comprises 25% of the total submission for the PhD in Music (Performance) and complements the creative portfolio of recordings.
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    Folio of Compositions
    Barry, Danielle Elizabeth ( 2022)
    Drawing inspiration from the constant, internal movement of the human body, to the hum of cityscapes and stillness of the natural world, this portfolio seeks to provide the listener with a range of unique experiences which encourage them to hear everyday sounds in new ways. The resulting portfolio encompasses works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, and electronics. It takes inspiration from the author's experience as a medical doctor, with stethoscope recordings providing a window into the human body, while binaural recordings of the lived environment provide an immersive and meditative listening experience. It seeks to build upon the foundations set by the pioneers of Musique concrete and challenge conventional notions of music and sound.
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    The 24 Monographs of Frederick Septimus Kelly
    Hazelbank, Alexander Carl ( 2022)
    This thesis presents an analysis of Frederick Septimus Kelly’s 24 Monographs for piano in light of the composer’s private writings. Through a comparative analysis between the Monographs and other piano works, connections are drawn between Kelly and the composers who impacted him. These connections are illuminated by Kelly’s diaries, which are held at the National Library of Australia. In the past, these have revealed much about the composer’s life for biographers, but this analysis has sought from them a better understanding of Kelly’s music. Among its findings are clues to the meaning of the title ‘Monograph’, a regimented harmonic ordering of the 24 pieces and a strong connection to the piano writing of Johannes Brahms.
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    Folio of works exploring a genre spectrum that spans contemporary classical music to popular songwriting
    Vincent, Adrian Lachlan ( 2022)
    This thesis is a 99-minute folio of nine original chamber, orchestral and popular contemporary works and an accompanying dissertation. The folio explores a genre-spectrum that spans contemporary classical music to popular songwriting, with a large, genre-hybrid song cycle for orchestra, voice and electronics as the centrepiece. Volume I comprises scores and audio of the works. Volume II is a dissertation of 24,000 words that illuminates the folio works, using score excerpts, sketches, drafts, graphs, screen-shots of notation software and audio examples to provide depth to the analysis. The following research questions are addressed: What is the impact of different software programs (or use of none) on my composition process and resultant outcomes? How can I use and include techniques from both classical and popular music styles to write unique and cohesive new music? What are some recurrent elements of my compositional voice across different genres, and are these elements conscious or unconscious? How can I best repurpose sketched material across genres as a novel means of material generation?
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    The Reception of Dmitri Shostakovich in France, 1934–2000
    Roycroft, Madeline Beth ( 2022)
    In 1989, the French record company Le Chant du Monde sponsored a year-long festival dedicated to the music of the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975). Coinciding with the bicentennial of the French revolution and the restructuring of the Soviet Union, this ‘Annee Chostakovitch’ included the French premiere of the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1932), French releases of earlier Soviet recordings of Shostakovich’s music, and a revival of the composer’s fifteen symphonies. The festival came more than fifty years after Shostakovich’s music was first heard in France: when his popular song ‘Au-devant de la vie’ became the anthem of the Front populaire movement in 1930s Paris, and his Fifth Symphony was promoted by French Communists in Paris in June 1938. This thesis maps the trajectory of Shostakovich’s music in France from late 1934—the year in which his music first gained notoriety in Paris—to the end of the twentieth century. Using ideas from reception theory, it interrogates a wide cross-section of press and other print sources from Paris and the French provinces containing critical discussions of Shostakovich’s fifteen symphonies, his opera Lady Macbeth, and his song ‘Au-devant de la vie.’ In addition to expanding the literature on musical life in France, this thesis complements existing studies of Shostakovich reception in the United States of America, Britain, and Germany. The thesis is structured chronologically in five chapters, preceded by an Introduction and followed by a short Conclusion. It situates critical responses to Shostakovich’s music within France’s evolving political landscape, and suggests that these responses were shaped largely by France’s shifting relations with the Soviet Union, the rising and falling influence of the French Communist Party, as well as trends and preferences in French musical life. I also conclude that writing about Shostakovich’s music throughout the twentieth century served as a means for French critics to articulate their ideas, opinions, and concerns about the USSR.
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    An Analysis of Gideon Klein’s Music: Renewing Perspectives on a ‘Holocaust Composer’
    Healey, Joshua David ( 2022)
    Gideon Klein (1919-1945) was a Czech-Jewish pianist and composer born in Prerov. He later moved to Prague to pursue his high school and tertiary musical education until the invasion and annexation of Czechoslovakia, and establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by Nazi Germany. His education was halted, mere months into his tertiary studies, and his performance career was curtailed to private performances, until he was deported to Theresienstadt on 4 December 1941, where he was interned and later moved to Furstengrube and murdered in late-January 1945. Musicologists and students have tended to focus on the final period of Klein’s life, often dismissing the works prior to his internment. Investigations often analyse specific works, interrogating them in isolation. My research takes a broader stance on Klein and his works, investigating his entire corpus demonstrating that his compositional development was continuous throughout his life. Klein’s identity has been reconstructed by scholars within a ‘resistance’ narrative. I seek to renew perspectives on Klein by offering new interpretations of compositional choices. I reveal previously overlooked continuities across Klein’s oeuvre and present him as a composer consistently interested in pursuing modernist techniques across his tragically short life.
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    Staying in tune: Exploring the perspectives of support workers in a long-term, community-based music therapy group
    Cameron, Helen Jean ( 2022)
    Music therapists are often assisted by support workers in their work with people with disabilities to enable access and participation during sessions. Support workers provide vital services to people with disabilities over a wide range of personal care tasks, including facilitating access to activities such as music therapy in the community. How music therapists interact and collaborate with this vital workforce, is key to the optimal provision of music therapy services. Music therapists have long been assisted by other workers in a variety of contexts and the literature has often reflected music therapists’ perspectives of working with assistants. However, scant attention has been given to the perspectives of the support worker in music therapy. Additionally, there is little literature addressing the community-based context. This master’s research project stems from my private practice group work for people with intellectual disabilities, which operates in a community venue. Support workers have assisted since its inception in 1998 and have always been engaged externally from the program, funded by the group member with disability. With the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2016 in Australia, access to and funding for support workers has increased and they have an important role in providing community access and participation. However, this burgeoning workforce has no set standards of training and experience, thus it is important to explore how best to collaborate with support workers who are variously trained and resourced. This research project aimed to explore the lived experiences of six support workers who provided assistance to group members with disability at a long-term music therapy group. Employing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methods, rich data from semi-structured interviews revealed key aspects of this experience: that Support workers value information and guidance; that there is a reciprocal impact of the music therapy session on the support worker and of the support worker on the music therapy session; support workers can experience a sense of belonging and an inclusive culture; and support workers have and develop a range of skills sets as a result of long term involvement in group music therapy in the community. The findings provided a rich picture of the support worker's role in a community-based music therapy context. As support workers felt a sense of belonging and inclusion in the group, this expands the notion of inclusion in this music therapy group developed exclusively for people with disability in the community. Collaboration with and support through information and guidance to the support worker, drawing on their knowledge, skills, and abilities may provide a sense of inclusion and community within the session. This may create an optimal experience of staying in tune for all the group members at music therapy.
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    Phenomenological mechanics — an intercultural musical perspective: an inquiry into the experience of directional movement in intercultural music, applying time and motion concepts from physics
    Ward, Michael Francis ( 2022)
    This study is an inquiry into the experience of “vectorial” (i.e., directional) motion in music. It proposes a conceptual model for the experience of directional motion. It then applies the model interculturally, examining the relationship between Western and Eastern linear and cyclic cultural representations of time and corresponding compositional organisation. In its conclusion, it proposes geometrical models of Western and Eastern musical forms as helix and vortex, respectively, presenting musical works that exemplify these concepts. The major research question of the dissertation is “What is the nature of the experience of directional movement in music, and how can this experience be conceptually represented?”. It examines this question via the principal methodological process of a thought experiment. There are four research areas — music as phenomenological mechanics, composition as intercultural metaphor, applications to musical performance and analysis, and newly imagined instruments and novel compositional processes — and 12 research propositions — three primary, three secondary (two exegetical), two tertiary, and four artefactual. The primary research propositions examine the experience of vectorial motion in music, proposing a phenomenologically determined, hierarchically organised, multi-parameter, form-void vector field model. Referencing this model, the dissertation proposes that the experience of directional motion in music can be compared to principles from mechanics, albeit at a purely phenomenological level — a proposition that gives rise to the concept of phenomenological mechanics. In the application of the concept of phenomenological mechanics to composition, the dissertation proposes a novel characterisation of musical development as a phenomenological representation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics — as the phenomenological “organisation of sound” from low to high potential energy states, and from chaos to order. The secondary research propositions present the idea that the experience of musical motion differs in Western and Eastern cultural contexts in accordance with contrasting Western linear and Eastern cyclic cultural representations of time — metaphorically apparent in their respective musical forms — and in accordance with the dualism and monism that characterise form-void representations and their paradigms more broadly. These secondary research propositions thus apply the concept of music as phenomenological mechanics to the concept of composition as intercultural metaphor. The dissertation proposes that, whereas Western music develops vectorially and teleologically to achieve an overall linear form, Eastern music develops non-vectorially and non-teleologically to achieve an overall cyclic form — a process consistent with the concept of intensification, as coined by UK ethnomusicologist Martin Clayton to describe “non-teleological large-scale processes" proceeding by "a process of expansion”. As an application of the research to the performance and analysis of music, the dissertation’s tertiary research propositions thus propose the concept of Western and Eastern musical forms as helix and vortex. Referencing the musical time concepts of Zuckerkandl, Clayton, Kramer, Cage and Fraser, and the musical improvisation concepts of Feisst, the exegesis research propositions and discussion analyse the major and minor artefacts — respectively, a composition and an improvisation, for a 12-drum harmonic tabla set and two variations of modified guitar — as exemplifications of the concepts contained in the written work.