Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    An exploration of people with dementia and their family care partners’ experiences of shared home-based music
    McMahon, Katherine Jean Meredith ( 2023-06)
    This dissertation describes an emergent project exploring how people living with dementia and their family care partners experience shared musical activities. With an increasing number of people with dementia residing in the community, family members play a key role in providing support for daily living as family care partners. There is, therefore, a recognised need to support the wellbeing of both people living with dementia and their family care partners. Music interventions uniquely support mood, memory and communication for people with dementia. However, little is known about how sharing music might support people with dementia and their family care partners as dyads. This thesis sought to address this gap through two qualitative studies: a thematic synthesis of the literature and a hermeneutic phenomenological study. This research was situated within a larger study examining a 12-week home-based music intervention (HOMESIDE), where I played dual roles as a researcher and music therapist. The thematic synthesis was conducted first to inform later stages of the research. My thematic synthesis explored how dyads experience shared musical activities across a range of contexts, including community settings, residential aged care, and the home. An analysis of 13 qualitative studies found that shared musical activities supported the individual and collective wellbeing of dyads through fostering connection. The findings informed the development of the Contextual Connection Model of Health Musicking for People Living with Dementia and Their Family Care Partners. This model captured the relationship between dyads’ contexts, their experiences of sharing music, and their wellbeing. In my second study, I conducted a hermeneutic phenomenological exploration of the shared musical experiences of six dyads participating in HOMESIDE. I recruited dyads I had worked with as a music therapist to utilise the rapport we had developed. Data was collected through music-based interviews to capture dyads’ musical and non-verbal experiences in the moment. Additional data was collected from the HOMESIDE study including dyads’ intervention diaries and semi-structured interviews. To explore and build on the Contextual Connection Model, this data was analysed using an abductive and relational-centred approach to hermeneutic phenomenological analysis. Through this analysis, I developed fifteen themes to capture dyads’ experiences of shared home-based musicking. These fifteen themes were organised into three global themes: 1) Experiences were shaped by complex influences; 2) A connected musical ecosystem; and 3) Music was a resource for wellbeing. These findings added depth, nuance and novelty to the Contextual Connection Model, leading to the development of the Revised Contextual Connection Model of Musicking for People Living with Dementia and Their Family Care Partners. This revised model conceptualises dyads’ experiences of musicking as cyclical and ecological, with nuanced outcomes including supported wellbeing, changed relationships to music, and challenging experiences. This study also provided insights into dyads’ process of learning to use music as a resource. This thesis provides theoretical and practical insights into dyads’ experiences of sharing music in the home and broader contexts. My research highlights the complexity of dyads’ shared musical experiences, and the central role of connection through musicking in supporting their wellbeing. It also locates the unique role of music therapy within the evolving landscape of music in dementia care. These understandings may support future development and refinement of therapeutic music interventions for dyads.
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    The Expressive Potential of the Interpretive Edition: A Practice-Led Analysis of the Editions of Beethoven Piano Sonatas by Hans von Bülow and Sigmund Lebert, Donald Francis Tovey and Harold Craxton, Artur Schnabel, and Claudio Arrau
    Hooke, Joshua ( 2023-05)
    This practice-led project asserts the value of the often-overlooked interpretive edition as an indispensable tool for performers, encouraging them to consider numerous approaches to interpreting a piece of music. The thesis portion of the project will begin with the suggestion that overly textualist readings of urtext scores have limited the potential for creating interpretively exploratory performances. With a focus on selected piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven – in particular his sonata in A flat, Op. 110 – this thesis will contend that great performers play a key role in forging much of the meaning surrounding this music and its place in concert repertoire. A practice-led analysis of selected editions will be used to illustrate this. This will offer a framework to encourage performers to look at the interpretive editions of the great musicians who have gone before them. These are the musicians who gave this music much of its popular meaning, who have faced the same artistic and technical challenges, and presented their various ideas and solutions in these scores.
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    Seeking the “dirty-beautiful”: An investigation into a compositional practice informed by shadows, impermanence and ambiguity
    Cheney, Lisa Jessie ( 2022-12)
    This creative-based research comprises a folio of original compositions, totalling two hours of music, and a written exegesis of 25,000 words. The portfolio explores the developing influence of a “dirty-beautiful” aesthetic, reflecting both a poetic worldview and preferences that shape a compositional language and sound world. Parallels are drawn with the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi and seeking beauty in the unusual, perishable, blurred or dimly lit shadow. A preference for creating dualities in order to dissolve them to reach a space in-between is established, particularly through an exploration of themes of lightness and darkness. Choices concerning register, timbre, activity and stasis, harmony and texture are situated on a continuum, building the foundations of this personal compositional style. The folio of compositions includes orchestral works, a flute concerto and four chamber works, plus a staged musical work for young audiences. A framework for reading music for wabi-sabi qualities is established and underpins the conceptually based qualities for writing music that I term “dirty-beautiful”. These qualities are paralleled most clearly in the music of Kaija Saariaho and Toru Takemitsu. Notions on how vulnerability might inform musical ideas and composition are also explored through both textural, sonic forms and personal experience relating to identity, gender and the notion of giving voice through in-depth analysis of many folio works. The accompanying folio of music compositions was composed between late 2014 and early 2019. It presents Arcane for symphony orchestra (2014-15); No Distant Place for piano, clarinet and violin (2015); Everything is Illuminated for violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion and harp (2016 rev. 2018); When We Speak for solo cello and fixed electroacoustic track (2016 rev. 2017-18); Strange Charisma for solo prepared harp (2019 rev. 2021); Flute Concerto (2017); excerpts from The Owl and the Pussycat, an opera for young audiences (2017–18) and Penumbral Shadow for chamber orchestra (2018–19). I arrive at a point where I am able to question and evaluate what writing music means to me as a composer.
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    Exploring How Music Therapists Describe Constructing Safety with Young People with Adverse or Traumatic Experiences
    Lai, Hsin-I Cindy ( 2023-05)
    Abstract This thesis is an investigation of safety and music therapy in the context of trauma. Herman (2015) describes safety as one of the critical and foremost elements in trauma care. However, there exists little research exploring the importance of safety and inspecting the role of music and music therapy in assisting the creation of safety, as evidenced from the results of the Critical Interpretive Synthesis (CIS). It highlights the need for empirical research into strategies that music therapists engage to create safety. The present qualitative study engaged hermeneutic phenomenology to reveal insights from eighteen experienced music therapists from eleven countries volunteering to participate in the project. Each of the participants have had between 7 and 35 years of experience working with diverse scenarios within the field of trauma. Online zoom interviews were conducted to capture participants' perspectives on safety and their experiences of providing safety in their programs. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith et al., 2009) was used to process the interview transcriptions. Participants shared their detailed and insightful knowledge into music therapy and creating safety, which resulted in identifying five emergent themes: safety space, semi-structured program, gentle and respectful facilitation strategies, regular supervision and self-care, and methods used in the program. Safety seems to be a concept that promotes containment and connection through offering control and choice making, negotiation and communication, and providing opportunities for self-expression and self-exploration. Incorporating these findings with relevant literature, I have constructed the concept of a music therapy container, to help music therapists working with traumatised young people to understand how to provide safety in the program. The container includes the five refined components: a safe room; familiarity and predictability; choice-making and control; the therapist's personal qualities; and musical affordances. Each of the components contribute to the creation of physical, environmental, and psychological safety in the program. Importantly, music therapy facilitated with caution affords a space without judgement, a sense of equality and safety for individual expression even within such a complex and unpredictable context. Without forcing individuals, nor focusing only on trauma, the creation of safety in music therapy sessions seems to afford young trauma survivors and therapists alike a container for being and responding. The participants shared similar views on a few crucial elements that promote this connection: being flexible, going with the flow, and taking a client-centred approach. The flexibility that the participants provide creates room for self-exploration and feelings of safety by the individuals. Music therapy can offer a space of respite, relaxation and security, coupled with experiences that may enable individuals to have a broader container for their trauma and assist in self-regulation. Therefore, gaining fundamental tools to assist the therapists connect and engage with individuals can increase the feeling of calmness and perhaps feeling more stable and safer in the program and beyond.
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    The Mutability of Bach: New Arrangements of J.S. Bach’s Accompanied Violin Music for the Saxophone
    Kenealy, Justin Maurice ( 2022-12)
    Since the invention of the saxophone in the 1840s, the practice of arrangement has played a pivotal role in developing and enriching the instrument’s repertoire. This project explores the repertoire of the concert saxophone, with a special focus on the use of new and existing arrangements of works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750). Repertoire included in the project follows a tradition of saxophonists of the last century combining original works with arrangements of works for other instruments to add musical variety to their programs and recordings. This performance-based thesis consists of a performance folio of 210 minutes, comprising 75% of the overall project, and a written dissertation of 25,000 words (25%). The folio includes a combination of live and studio recordings presented as three distinct programs: a survey of original saxophone repertoire, existing arrangements of Bach for the saxophone, and the new editions of the five selected works. This practice-led thesis expands the repertory by creating new arrangements of five accompanied violin works by J.S. Bach: Concerto in A minor BWV 1041, Concerto in E major BWV 1042, Sonata in G major BWV 1021, Sonata in E minor BWV 1023, and Fugue in G minor BWV 1026. The process behind the development of these new Bach arrangements for the saxophone is explored in the dissertation, informed by a study of Bach’s own practice as an arranger. Complementary analysis of arrangement techniques utilised by saxophonists and other wind players since the middle of the twentieth century provides further context for the creation of new arrangements. Through this analysis, a set of general arrangement principles are established and employed to resolve areas of significant conflict between the technical capabilities of the violin and the soprano saxophone. Issues of tessitura, multiple stopping, and phrasing and breathing are addressed to ensure the new editions are idiomatic for the saxophone. The complete, notated arrangements are included as appendices to the dissertation.
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    A Performer’s Interpretation of Francis Poulenc’s Sonate pour hautbois et piano FP185 as a Reflection of Anticipatory Grief and the Grieving Process
    Leaman, Briana Kathryn ( 2023-03)
    Since its posthumous premiere at the Strasbourg Music Festival of 1963, Francis Poulenc’s (1899–1963) Sonate pour hautbois et piano FP185 (1962) has been a staple of the oboe repertoire worldwide, being regularly listed as an option on AMEB, ABRSM and repertoire lists ranging from the 1966 McGinnis and Marx Music Publishers’ catalogue of oboe music to the Vienna Symphonic Library’s current selection of suggested oboe repertoire. Poulenc’s dedication of the work 'In memory of Sergei Prokofiev' is often cited as the piece’s impetus as well as its subtext, implying that the work’s purpose is to serve as a tribute to a close friend of the composer and that this explains its melancholic character. In examining the content of the Sonate and its surrounding context within Poulenc’s life and career, however, another interpretation can be offered, which views the work as a reflection of Poulenc’s anxiety, or Anticipatory Grief, over his own pending mortality. This can be highlighted in the music through analysing the development of the Sonate’s motivic material in terms of the grief- processing theories of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (and, later, her co-author David Kessler), Margaret Stroebe and Henk Schut. In practice, viewing the work in this light can offer a relatable and meaningful approach to this key piece of the oboe repertoire that is structured yet uniquely flexible based on the performers’ unique experiences with grief. The thesis below, which is approximately 24,000 words, constitutes 25 percent of the final research output for this PhD. The remaining 75 percent has been provided separately as a creative portfolio of approximately 216 minutes of live concert and studio recordings that demonstrate a variety of stylistic approaches and techniques, spanning from Mozart’s 1777 Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra to one of my most recent Australian commissions from 2022. I have grouped the recordings (both video and audio) into three conceptual programs representing the influences, persona, and proposed Anticipatory Grief of Francis Poulenc: PROGRAM 1: Inspiration and Les Six PROGRAM 2: Poulenc the Paradoxical PROGRAM 3: Grief, Introspection, and the Temporal Dilemma A full outline of each program, including recording details, can be found in Appendix A.
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    Breath of Metamorphosis: Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Performance in Contemporary Recorder Playing
    Williams, Ryan Christopher ( 2022-12)
    This thesis is an exploration of the recorder in a contemporary music practice. My practice focuses on improvisation, especially free improvisation, interdisciplinary performance, and the performance of notated works. By undertaking both collaborative and solo projects, I have investigated the use of the recorder within my contemporary music practice and traced the different ways in which I employ improvisation. This performance-based thesis consists of a portfolio of recordings (75%) and a written dissertation (25%). The design of my research is primarily based on Robin Nelson’s Practice as Research methodology and the principal aim is to investigate my use of the recorder and improvisation across my practice in contemporary music. The recorded portfolio, consisting of both audio and video recordings, showcases a diverse range of collaborative, creative, and improvisation led performances that explore key elements of my research enquiry. The recorded portfolio is divided into three main categories. Category 1 consists of recorded works that were created with a focus on using sound with other artforms in an interdisciplinary way, while category 2 demonstrates my work within free improvisation on two collaborative recordings and one solo recording. Notated works that were commissioned from Australian composers, and the performance and preparation of these pieces are the focus of category 3. Improvisation plays a critical role in all the music presented via the creative process, select notated scores, and the recorded performances. The recorded portfolio is supported by a written dissertation which provides context and critical reflections on the creative material. The written dissertation provides an introduction to the recorder in improvisation and discusses my free improvised practice with an emphasis on extended techniques. I investigate newly commissioned notated works for the recorder and reveal links between improvisation and composition in the collaborative process. Approaches to interdisciplinary practices are also discussed through case studies focusing on sound, movement, and spoken-word. Appendices of supporting material, which include a discography of free improvised recordings with the recorder and select audio samples that demonstrate my use of key extended techniques, complement the dissertation. Through a combination of recordings, research, and critical reflection, this integrated project offers a unique and broad ranging investigation into a rich and multi-faceted contemporary music practice with the recorder.
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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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    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 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?