Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
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ItemUNWRAPPING AUTHENTICITY: Skill development + perception / conception developmentFriedman, Noemi ( 2022)The music that has always meant the most to me has taught me something new about the world, about life, or about myself. It has a brilliance about it, a depth, an innate beauty. The music that has touched me the most has an inherent authenticity, and authenticity touches people. It does not have to be a serious or earnest work; it can be fun, whimsical, or curious. But there remains an underlying integrity, a truthfulness, and a musical communication that lies beyond superficiality, gimmick, or sterile intellectualism and I hope to believe that humans are hard-wired to know when communication is authentic. As a listener, I seek music where there is genuine coherence between the artist and that which they express in their work. As a music maker and practitioner, the continual extension of my technical skills, knowledge, and analysis is essential. However, so too is pondering, deep listening, and observation of oneself and the world, as well as the development of what I would like to say. Whilst technique and research assist a composer to present a work with clarity, poignancy, and potency, they are not the point in and of themselves. So, whilst I extend my technical and analytical music skills, I also seek to clarify and extend my ability to perceive and conceive an integral point of view. Authenticity requires interrogation of one’s perception, broad enquiry, and leaning on one’s own life experiences. I believe that perception is as important a skill to develop in music as it is in the visual arts. I create as I perceive. I am a witness to my life and to my times. Each creative has a chance to deliver a refracted vision of life as we experience it; as we share our version of reality, so too does the collective understanding of life broaden and flourish. This initiates an important feedback loop, where flourishing ideas nourish the community, which then, in turn, nourish new creative endeavours. For this composer, authenticity means witnessing and expressing the corner of reality I inhabit; my culture, my experiences, my observations, and history-in-the-making during my life and times. I locate my music with this compass.
ItemBeyond barriers: Creating a space for deeper connection between individuals from diverse religious traditions through a dialogic group music therapy processNotarangelo, 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.
Item“Biographical Milestones”: Interpreting Sixty Years of Larry Sitsky’s Stylistic Evolution in Australia (1959–2019) Through a Comparative Analysis of His Solo Flute WorksShon, 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.
ItemHyper-visibility and under-representation: inclusivity, diversity, and the alternative music scene in MelbourneD'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.
ItemFacing the Music: d/Deafness, Music and Culture in AustraliaHedt, 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.