Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    Individual Differences in the Experience of Musically-Evoked Chills
    Lowe-Brown, Xanthe ( 2022)
    Research into individual differences has unveiled associations between personality traits and music preferences, however the understanding of individual differences in the experience of Musically-Evoked Chills (MECs) is still in its infancy. Therefore, this study investigated the relationship between individual differences and MECs in music listening. A literature review was conducted that scoped current research on personality traits, cognitive styles and MECs. Furthermore, the study investigated Music Recommender Systems (MRSs) and music listening apps that suggest personalised music on streaming platforms. The scoping review revealed positive associations between openness to experience, neuroticism, the music-empathising cognitive style and MECs. These findings have resulted in the proposition of a theoretical model that suspects a link between MECs and music preferences. Future research directions include improving MRSs to account for individual differences, which may enhance their ability to regulate music listeners’ emotional responses, and in turn, may enhance their emotional wellbeing.
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    Behind the Photograph: The Portrayal of Chinese and Feminine Elements as Others in 'Nixon in China'
    Owens, Alex M. ( 2022)
    John Adams and his frequent collaborator Peter Sellars share a growing body of stage works that platform and tell American stories. Their first and most well-known opera, Nixon in China, created with librettist Alice Goodman and premiered in 1986, mythologises the events of the U.S. President Richard Nixon’s 1972 diplomatic trip to China. Working against the backdrop of a long history of antagonistic portrayals of foreign and feminine characteristics in operatic works, does this modern work avoid casting non-American and non-masculine characters as symbolic ‘others’ in a measured portrayal of historical events? Through analysing sections of the score and available recordings of the opera, and discussing interviews given by the creative team over the last thirty years, this thesis seeks to understand the biases inherent to the construction of character in this opera’s second act. Focus will be given to the ballet scene, a parodied fragment of The Red Detachment of Women, and the arias of the two lead female roles Madame Mao and Pat Nixon. This all-American creative team, though aware of the history and difficulties in portraying foreign and feminine elements in operatic works, continue to be constrained by their nationalistic viewpoints and masculine focus. This is due to the limited use and availability of source materials outside of those used to conceptualise masculine characters, and the ethnocentric bias of the creative team which resultantly casts both Chinese and feminine elements as Others. This thesis connects to a growing field of intersectional study on issues in operatic construction both in works created recently and across the history of opera.
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    Performing the undiscovered solo piano works of Italian composer Lucia Contini Anselmi (1876-1913)
    Nelson, Quilby ( 2022)
    Lucia Contini Anselmi (b.1876-d.? after 1913) was an Italian composer and pianist. Born in Vercelli, Italy, Contini Anselmi wrote over thirty works, mainly for solo piano. Despite the current surge of research into women composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there is little known about Contini Anselmi with no major research to date, compounded by the lack of research into Italian female composers of this time period. Therefore, this study will serve to fill both these gaps in the literature. The goal of this research is to present a performance approach to two of Contini Anselmi’s works, Ludentia Op. 11 (1913) and Sibylla Cumaea Op. 15 (1916) through a practice-led research orientation. This will be realised through the application of the writings in Contini Anselmi’s treatise, Della tecnica per l’esecuzione della musica sul pianoforte e sua interpretazione, a previously unknown document published in 1908.
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    The Song of the Sibyl: from pagan prophecy to contemporary liturgical drama.
    Watters-Cowan, Asher Peter ( 2022)
    The Song of the Sibyl presents an intriguing case of the preservation and restoration of a medieval Spanish liturgical drama in contemporary society. Listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO (2010), this ancient pagan prophecy of damnation – performed by a vocalist impersonating a Sibyl – was once widespread across Christmas liturgies in Europe. Despite suppression from the Tridentine Council (1545-1563), it was sustained by small communities in Mallorca and Sardinia through rote traditions, and from the 1990s onward, the number of performances across the Catalan regions on the Spanish mainland has flourished. My thesis seeks to understand the many ways this drama can be presented, which results in its preservation and revival. I achieve this through a comparison and analysis of audio and visual source materials, manuscripts, and transcriptions. The manifold reasons for revival include: recovery of primary source documents and reconstructions of manuscripts by 20th century musicologists; the reanimation of Catalan heritage; and a contemporary attraction to the pagan personality of the Sibyl. My research will assist future scholars in understanding the present reception and restoration of this liturgical drama.
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    Cowboy Bebop and Lupin lll: an investigation of the role of brass in anime opening music
    Gilham, Jessica ( 2021)
    This thesis identifies and examines the role of brass instrumentation in the opening songs for the anime, Lupin III and Cowboy Bebop. This examination is conducted through an investigation of the impact of Japanese jazz and nostalgia in Japanese culture together with specific influences of Western television. By providing contextual and historical information through this investigation, and using facets of both Western and Japanese culture, I describe how and why brass instruments are being used in the opening sequences for Lupin III and Cowboy Bebop. Through an examination of these two anime, this thesis provides a framework to understanding the interaction between brass and anime opening music. The findings for this thesis were drawn from books, journal articles, various fan sites, and anime cataloguing systems. I used an interdisciplinary approach engaging with resources spanning the literature on Japanese jazz, nostalgia, Western television, and anime. This thesis discusses how through the two anime series, Japanese jazz has come to reflect a point of nostalgia and resistance for Japanese people. This discussion looks at the presence of jazz cafes, the banning of jazz in Japan from around 1937 as a result of hostilities towards the United States, bebop, and jazz fusion. I examine how these facets of Japanese jazz work together to describe the interaction between how brass is portrayed in the anime opening songs, how brass works together with the visual elements of the openings, and the overall themes that each anime represents.
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    Curled into the Antihero: An Exploration of the Kinaesthetic and Visual Artefacts of Jaguar Jonze
    Gabbert Bartlett, Isobel Rosa ( 2021)
    This thesis examines the visual and kinaesthetic identities of Brisbane-based musician and artist Jaguar Jonze. It analyses the production of her artefacts as continuing the narratives written in the music and lyrics, and suggests they are an emotional and physical form of expression that powers the cultural memory formed of the artist. A comprehensive visual narrative for a musician is powerful when planned in alignment with the music, creating a multifaceted, multi-platform engagement and identity for the musician that extends beyond a sonic language. Drawing on sensory ethnography, social and cultural studies, psychoanalysis and popular music studies, I argue that Jaguar Jonze is a significant example of a multisensorial design culture and musical identity. Performing myths and folklore, utilising recurring colours, themes and bodily movements, this thesis reads the visual artefacts and movements of Jaguar Jonze as a whole with the music. This thesis contributes to the limited research on the creative practices of emerging contemporary Australian musicians and the merging of their artistic forms in the post-digital music industry.
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    An Analysis of Elisabeth Lutyens's The Valley of Hatsu-Se
    McGartland, Aidan ( 2021)
    This dissertation is a musical analysis of Elisabeth Lutyens’s The Valley of Hatsu-Se (1965), a setting of ancient Japanese poems for soprano and chamber ensemble. The first part of the dissertation examines the serial language of the work. This includes the intervallic structure and segmentation of the row, textural use of rows, links between rows and serial ‘anomalies.’ The serial analysis concludes with a brief comparison to the mature serial languages of Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, as well as to Luigi Dallapiccola, who has a similarly lyrical approach to serialism. The next part of the dissertation addresses non-serial elements, especially exploring the variety of contrasting textures. It focusses on textural devices, such as counterpoint and ostinato, as well as the transformation of motifs and voice-leading. There is also a brief discussion of potential Japanese influences on the work. This dissertation aims to facilitate a greater understanding of the serial language and the array of distinctive textures to enhance an appreciation of The Valley of Hatsu-Se, and bring increased awareness to the music of Elisabeth Lutyens.
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    Navigating Kol Isha: Women's Voices in The Australian Jewish Community
    Golan Burnett, Hannah ( 2020)
    Kol Isha is a religious law that states men should not hear women’s singing voices. This law is most often referred to in synagogue, where women do not take on any ritual roles and sit separately from men. Over the past fifty years, new styles of prayer have emerged that attempt to maintain tradition, whilst allowing women to sing and actively take part in ritual. This dissertation examines how Orthodox Jewish women maintain authenticity as Orthodox Jews and feminists whilst negotiating Kol Isha. It interviews seven self-identifying Orthodox Female Jewish Women, who have attended such congregations about how they negotiate secular and sacred values during prayer. Preliminary findings suggest that women negotiate their authenticity by taking part in current ideological conflicts within their communities. Their standpoints are made public through where and how they use their voices within sacred settings.
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    Delta Goodrem’s musical expression before, during, and after traumatic illness: an interdisciplinary analysis
    Sharp, Christine Audrey ( 2020)
    While scholars of Western art music have begun analysing trauma directly, scholars of popular music have largely focused on what I call ‘indirect analyses’ of trauma through issues of consumerism and identity. Because trauma is at the heart of mainstream media narratives, I contend that scholars should directly research it in popular music. In this dissertation, I examine how popular music can be used to express a personal transformative experience resulting from trauma. I analyse Australian popstar/singer-songwriter Delta Goodrem’s transformative experience as a result of traumatic illness, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in her first three albums Innocent Eyes (2003), Mistaken Identity (2004), and Delta (2007). I employ an interdisciplinary approach using positive psychology’s Post-Traumatic Growth Theory (PTG) as an analytical lens to demonstrate how Goodrem’s transformation reveals issues of resilience, gender, and maturation. I argue that Goodrem’s musical expression in the albums reflects the three main areas of growth found in PTG: self-identity, relationships, and life philosophy. Until this research, no scholar has attempted to use PTG as an analytical framework for analysing trauma in music. This dissertation thus introduces PTG as a new theoretical concept to music studies and contributes to our understanding of how artists employ music to make sense of personal trauma.
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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.