Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    Combinations of Western and Chinese elements in Wang Li-San’s On the Other Range and Flavors of Two Poems by Li He
    Tao, Yilan ( 2022)
    This thesis is comprised of research in both performance and written format. The project is divided between the video-recorded recital (two-thirds) and the written document (one-third). Wang Li-San (1933-2013) is a Chinese composer, theorist, and educator. His composition output is made predominately of piano music, with several piano suites and solo works. In his early life and period of academic study, Wang became familiar with Western classical music, modernism, and traditional Chinese music. Then, political issues impacted him, resulting in a deeper understanding of Chinese folk songs and instruments. He developed a distinctive style and kept composing throughout his life. Among his works, On the Other Range and Flavors of Two Poems by Li He were two suites composed in the late period of his life, demonstrating unique ideas for combining Chinese and Western elements. This thesis focuses on how Wang Li-San used the two elements in the two works mentioned above. The theoretical framework consists of musical analysis of Wang’s compositional theory including tonality and forms, as well as analyzing ideas in philosophy. Wang used Chinese modes together with Western contrapuntal writing in On the Other Range, a set of Five Preludes and Fugues. In the other piece Flavors of Two Poems by Li He, he combined the twelve-tone technique with Chinese modes. Additionally, there are also influences from Chinese opera, imitation of Chinese instruments, and allusions to specific Western pieces in both suites.
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    UNWRAPPING AUTHENTICITY: Skill development + perception / conception development
    Friedman, 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.
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    Beyond The Concept Album REALMS: A Transmedial Approach to the Narrative Concept Album
    Tinkler, Matthew PJ Gabriel ( 2022)
    In recent years, the narrative concept album format has been somewhat disregarded by music consumers, due in-part to the popularisation of music-streaming services changing the way in which music is consumed. Despite this change in behaviour, the narrative concept album format has seen little evolution in its delivery method, even with significant advances in the accessibility of interactive digital technology and potential for its incorporation with the format. REALMS is a project that explores a transmedial approach to the creation, presentation, and dissemination of a narrative concept album, posing a potential solution to this issue. Presented as a website, it provides the audience with various ways to interact with the storyworld and its components, as well as allowing them to engage with both musical and extramusical content as they wish. This freedom of interaction is fundamental to the project, as it allows it to sit within the confines of the current music industry landscape whilst providing opportunities for audiences to engage at a deeper level. The introductory statement explores the conceptualisation and collaborative efforts of the creative process whilst also providing further context to the project and its intentions moving forwards. An explanation of the various elements of the project and how they coalesce into a work much greater than the sum of its parts is also provided. REALMS demonstrates a reimagining of the narrative concept album format in a virtual environment, as well as offers a template for the realisation of the format within a transmedial framework in an attempt to provide a step towards solving the issue of commercial and artistic viability of the narrative concept album in the modern digital era.
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    Visions of Venice: A Comparative Analysis of Mendelssohn’s Gondola Songs for Piano
    Yim, Ho Ka Lesley ( 2022)
    Abstract During the nineteenth century, there was a growing interest for Romantic piano repertoire. Felix Mendelssohn was a significant contributor to music for the romantic piano and his Songs Without Words coincided with the increasing popularity of the home piano. This meant there was an increased appetite for accessible music to the amateur musician. In his lifetime, Mendelssohn composed four piano gondola songs: three titled Venetianisches Gondellied as part of his eight-volume Lieder ohne Worte with an additional gondola song titled Gondellied published after his death. There is a considerable lack of research and representation of Mendelssohn’s Venetian Gondola Songs in the current literature. This is compounded by an absence of literature that examines all four Gondellied. This thesis explores Mendelssohn’s three Venetianisches Gondellied as well as his posthumous Gondellied. The four works are examined individually before a comparative analysis of the similarities and differences between the four works. In the investigation, I conduct a traditional musical analysis of the four pieces. The analysis focuses on elements such as form, harmony, accompaniment, and articulation, in addition to an engagement with the surface elements of the music which include patterns, figurations, and gestures. My analytical approach involves score analysis as well as practice and performing of the pieces. This research identifies the distinguishing elements of Mendelssohn’s Gondola Songs for piano solo. The research undertaken in this study contributes to the existing body of literature by allowing performers to situate their practice within a broader analytical context in addition to serving as a valuable performative and analytical resource. By examining the three Venetian gondola songs from the Songs Without Words with the posthumous WoO 10 gondola song, this fills a void of knowledge in the current literary environment with no studies examining all four of these compositions.
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    Super Flat, Composition for Screen, and the Aesthetics of Electronic Dance Music
    Keddie, Joshua Thomas ( 2021)
    This creative work thesis investigates the application of electronic dance music approaches in interactive compositional contexts. The body of creative work consists of an album, Super Flat Music, reacting to Takashi Murakami’s “Theory of Super Flat Japanese Art” (2001), and two documentary film scores. Super Flat Music investigates the connection between Super Flat and Shibuya-kei, focusing on the application of electronic dance music practice in this context. The two documentary works, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet and Malaysia’s Last Tigers, investigate how electronic dance music can both react to and enhance location, energy, and narrative in a moving image collaborative context. The resulting creative work thesis demonstrates ways in which electronic dance music can interact with external media elements.
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    Creative Collaboration in Music: An Exploration of the Oboe in Australian Contemporary Repertoire
    Gawler, Brienne Louise ( 2021)
    Collaboration in music is not a new concept in the modern artistic world. However, it is rapidly becoming an area of interest that is worthy of further research, especially in regards to performer-composer collaboration. There are limited resources in existence that examine the creative process involved in writing new works for the oboe from the point of commission to performance. This research project aims to explore collaboration by delving into the interrelationship between commissioner, performer and composer and highlights the creative process necessary to bring new Australian works for the oboe into existence. Three contrasting Australian contemporary oboe works composed since 1980 were selected as the central focus for this research project. The performers and composers of each work were interviewed over a period of three months in order to gain a deeper understanding of the creative process involved. The three collaborations are compared and contrasted throughout this thesis. Further, performances of these works feature in the concert recital which forms the performance-as-research component of my Masters project. This thesis demonstrates the link between meaningful collaboration during the creative process, and how this positively impacts the compositional writing and therefore the outcome of the work. Specifically, the project exposes the role that collaboration plays in the creation of new Australian works for oboe. The findings of this research contribute to the body of academic literature on performer-composer collaboration, and paves the way for further research in this area into the future.
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    Artur Schnabel’s Interpretation of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C Major, Opus 53, ‘Waldstein’: An Analysis of Selected Writings, Editions, and Recordings
    Kuo, Chih-Wei ( 2021)
    The Austrian-born pianist Artur Schnabel (1882 - 1951) is celebrated as an interpreter of Beethoven, having not only performed and recorded all thirty-two piano sonatas, but also publishing his own detailed edition. Claude Frank (1925 - 2014) was the only pupil of Schnabel to also record the entire cycle. Furthermore, Ian Hobson (1952 -) became the only former student of Frank to also complete this project. This thesis examines Schnabel’s edition of Sonata Opus 53 in C Major ‘Waldstein’ and compares and contrasts details of three pianists’ interpretive ideas to one another. Particular focus is given to pedal and tempo choices. The analysis displays a wide range of difference in these areas. Schnabel himself discouraged the use of his own edition and the results of the thesis show that he made many alterations to his own written advice when actually recording this work. Frank and Hobson’s recordings reveal additional parting of interpretation in multiple examples. In addition to the analysis of the edition and recordings, a literature review of other pertinent related sources will be provided. Some interpretive elements related to articulations, fingerings, and performance practice proved impossible to reach conclusions without video footage which would have displayed the pianists’ hands. Those examples are also detailed. This analysis can be a resource and guide for those wanting greater understanding into the interpretation of ‘Waldstein’, as well as the pianistic traditions of Beethoven playing.
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    MMus Music Composition Folio
    Misson, Thomas ( 2021)
    N/A
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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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    The “Work” of Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato through the Van Veen Recordings
    Low, Stacey Litong ( 2020)
    Canto Ostinato for keyboard instruments (1973-79) is the best-known piece of Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012). The first work of his final compositional period, it advocates indeterminacy in performance, leaving performers to decide on dynamics, articulation, pedalling, instrumentation, and the number of repetitions of most of its 106 sections. Canto Ostinato’s aleatoric nature is investigated in relation to the traditional connotations of a “work,” as highlighted by Lydia Goehr. Georgina Born’s notion of a “provisional” type of work and Peter Elsdon’s classification of a work as the total of its realisations are posited as alternative definitions. An examination of Canto as a “work” would be incomplete without an analysis of the piece’s relationships to its composer, period of conception, performers, realisations, and audiences, and the relationships and contradictions between these aspects. This thesis investigates Canto in relation to several of its precedents in experimental music, such as improvisational music, minimalism, and indeterminacy. Several of ten Holt’s stated beliefs are investigated in relation to the score of Canto, such as the spiritual importance he accorded to the concept of tonality; the special interaction between the performers; the idea of each work developing on its own; and the notion of an “ideal performance” of an indeterminate piece. This thesis also examines the seven duo recordings from 1996 to 2013 of husband-and-wife piano duo Sandra and Jeroen van Veen, two of ten Holt’s most prolific advocates. The analyses indicate that ten Holt’s apparent praise for their February 2008 recording was an impetus for the duo in using similar approaches in subsequent recordings. In these recordings, a number of sections of Canto are highly structured via part omissions, specific amounts of repetition, additional repeats, and the employment of the additive process. A wide range of topics are discussed, such as notion of authorial control versus performer preferences, a more collaborative composer-performer relationship, and the issues surrounding the van Veens’ semi-determinate realisations of Canto, such as audience perception and practical considerations in live performances. This thesis uncovers the complex associations between composers, performers, and other aspects in this consideration of Canto Ostinato as a “work.”