Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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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.