Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
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ItemPhenomenological mechanics — an intercultural musical perspective: an inquiry into the experience of directional movement in intercultural music, applying time and motion concepts from physicsWard, Michael Francis ( 2022)This study is an inquiry into the experience of “vectorial” (i.e., directional) motion in music. It proposes a conceptual model for the experience of directional motion. It then applies the model interculturally, examining the relationship between Western and Eastern linear and cyclic cultural representations of time and corresponding compositional organisation. In its conclusion, it proposes geometrical models of Western and Eastern musical forms as helix and vortex, respectively, presenting musical works that exemplify these concepts. The major research question of the dissertation is “What is the nature of the experience of directional movement in music, and how can this experience be conceptually represented?”. It examines this question via the principal methodological process of a thought experiment. There are four research areas — music as phenomenological mechanics, composition as intercultural metaphor, applications to musical performance and analysis, and newly imagined instruments and novel compositional processes — and 12 research propositions — three primary, three secondary (two exegetical), two tertiary, and four artefactual. The primary research propositions examine the experience of vectorial motion in music, proposing a phenomenologically determined, hierarchically organised, multi-parameter, form-void vector field model. Referencing this model, the dissertation proposes that the experience of directional motion in music can be compared to principles from mechanics, albeit at a purely phenomenological level — a proposition that gives rise to the concept of phenomenological mechanics. In the application of the concept of phenomenological mechanics to composition, the dissertation proposes a novel characterisation of musical development as a phenomenological representation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics — as the phenomenological “organisation of sound” from low to high potential energy states, and from chaos to order. The secondary research propositions present the idea that the experience of musical motion differs in Western and Eastern cultural contexts in accordance with contrasting Western linear and Eastern cyclic cultural representations of time — metaphorically apparent in their respective musical forms — and in accordance with the dualism and monism that characterise form-void representations and their paradigms more broadly. These secondary research propositions thus apply the concept of music as phenomenological mechanics to the concept of composition as intercultural metaphor. The dissertation proposes that, whereas Western music develops vectorially and teleologically to achieve an overall linear form, Eastern music develops non-vectorially and non-teleologically to achieve an overall cyclic form — a process consistent with the concept of intensification, as coined by UK ethnomusicologist Martin Clayton to describe “non-teleological large-scale processes" proceeding by "a process of expansion”. As an application of the research to the performance and analysis of music, the dissertation’s tertiary research propositions thus propose the concept of Western and Eastern musical forms as helix and vortex. Referencing the musical time concepts of Zuckerkandl, Clayton, Kramer, Cage and Fraser, and the musical improvisation concepts of Feisst, the exegesis research propositions and discussion analyse the major and minor artefacts — respectively, a composition and an improvisation, for a 12-drum harmonic tabla set and two variations of modified guitar — as exemplifications of the concepts contained in the written work.
ItemMelodic Excursions: The Brazilian cavaquinho’s global journeyMay, Adam John ( 2021)This research project explores the long and diverse history of the cavaquinho through a combination of practical performance and archival research. This four-string soprano guitar is a ubiquitous instrument in several musical cultures and its origins may be traced to Portugal where very similar instruments have been in use since the seventeenth century. The cavaquinho, and closely related instruments, spread across the globe along routes of migration and this study will focus on four key traditions, those of Brazil, Portugal, Indonesia, and Hawaii. These historical links will be investigated through recorded performances played on the modern Brazilian cavaquinho, together with written analysis of historical and performance contexts. A diverse portfolio of recordings showcases performance practices and repertoires from the nineteenth century, through to the flourishing tradition of the twentieth century and new and emerging contemporary genres. The Brazilian cavaquinho is the instrument through which I engage with these contrasting repertoires, drawing on the richness of the instrument’s technique and performance style. The recordings are not presented as historical recreations, but as extensions of the distinct evolving traditions through the application of contemporary practices. Collaborations with renowned international practitioners feature on many of the recordings, and the creative element of this thesis extends to original arrangements and compositions. Through a combination of performance recordings, research, analysis and original arrangements and compositions, this project demonstrates how the cavaquinho is the perfect vehicle to illuminate and reinvigorate historically linked traditions and styles.
ItemFolio of CompositionsPickering, Christopher James ( 2020)A Folio of Compositions for the Master of Music (Composition), by Chris Pickering, completed between 2018-2020. List of compositions: 1. The Straightened Arrow - For Orchestra (11:49) 2. Ceiling of Clouds - For Alto Saxophone, Acoustic Guitar, and Harmonium (5:30) 3. Sous Le Tourbillon - Suite for Piano (24:52) 4. Splinters of Diamond Light - For Orchestra (11:26) 5. Lesser Heroes - For Flugelhorn/Trumpet in C, Trombone, and Electric Guitar (8:31) The initial creative concept behind the folio was to investigate how the composer’s background as a songwriter with a contemporary pop influence could be explored within the expanded palette of contemporary classical composition techniques. The intention in undertaking larger-scale and more adventurous compositions was to explore how the composer’s sense of form and structure through pop songwriting – and the prominence of melody – could be applied within the extended durations and timbral textures of writing for larger groups, in more nuanced pieces of chamber music, and the challenges in additionally mastering scoring and orchestration techniques for various instruments.
ItemBorder crossing: tracing the influences of Brazilian guitarist Yamandu CostaRudd, Maximillian ( 2018)Born in 1980 in Rio Grande do Sul, Yamandu Costa is one of Brazil’s most celebrated guitarists. Yamandu Costa began his musical journey at the age of seven, taking informal guitar lessons from his father, Algacir Costa. Raised in a musical family, his childhood was marked by extensive touring alongside the family band, who made their living from entertaining at vibrant dance parties across Brazil. His father was the leader of the band Os Fronteiriços, whose music was rooted in the regional music of southern Brazil, known there as música gaúcha (gaúcho music). Amidst this inherently regional upbringing, Yamandu Costa’s music was shaped and influenced by the gaúcho culture and music of southern Brazil and Argentina. In addition, the migration of Argentinian guitarist Lucio Yanel to Rio Grande do Sul in 1982 had a major impact on the life and music of Yamandu Costa. Finding lodging at the Costa family home in Passo Fundo during the initial period of his migration, Yanel brought with him to Brazil his guitar music, rooted heavily in the folkloric regional styles of Argentina. The young Yamandu Costa found a musical mentor in Yanel, resulting in a musical career that would come to be heavily influenced by Yanel’s pioneering approach to gaúcho music as a guitar soloist. A composer and virtuoso guitarist, the presence of Yamandu Costa’s gaúcho identity is unmistakable. Yamandu Costa frequently draws upon idiomatic instrumental and compositional techniques indicative of his gaúcho music influences. His music is eclectic, as he pieces together a mosaic of diverse Brazilian music styles like choro with Argentinian chamamé, chacarera and zamba. Through an analysis of five original works, this thesis illuminates the influences of Yamandu Costa and demonstrates the presence of gaúcho musical idioms in his music. The analysis is contextualised amidst biographical details, and investigates his formative years spent in Rio Grande do Sul and his relationship with Lucio Yanel, which are critical to his musical formation. The legacy of Yanel’s presence in Rio Grande do Sul is measured by an analysis of parallels in guitar technique between Yanel and Yamandu Costa, and demonstrates the musical cues the protégé has taken from his mentor. This thesis shows that Yamandu Costa’s roots in gaúcho music distinguish him amongst the Brazilian guitar landscape.
ItemThe influence of neoclassicism in selected guitar works by Joaquín Rodrigo: implications for performanceVelasco-Svoboda, Alexandra ( 2017)This thesis argues that the context within which prominent Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) composed for the guitar was largely affected by the role of neoclassicism between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. This will be traced through an examination of the events and figures that contributed to the development of Spanish neoclassicism during the period. While a substantial body of literature exists regarding the engagement of French and Spanish musical nationalism with Stravinsky’s neoclassicism, little has been written about how these events came to affect composers of the classical guitar after the Spanish Silver Age in the 1920s. A key composer in linking the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and the French with the development of Spain’s musical landscape was Manuel de Falla (1876-1976). His works, now studied in the sphere of prominent neoclassical composers of the time, inspired a generation of composers prior to and following the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to utilize the classical guitar in their neoclassical compositions removed of Andalusian cliché. The instrument itself came to represent the neoclassical movement with its combining of modernist elements and ties to Spain’s rich musical past. In the Spanish Silver Age, the affect of Falla’s music was substantial. His explorations of using the guitar and other historical instruments from La Vida Breve (1904), El Corregidor y la Molinera (1919), through to El Retablo de Maese Pedro (1923) and The Harpsichord Concerto (1926) affected how audiences internationally and locally received the new identity of Spanish music. Rodrigo’s compositions were greatly affected by Falla’s output. Combined with the recognition and popularity of the classical guitar through the concerts of Andrés Segovia, Rodrigo’s guitar works launched the neoclassical aesthetic on the classical guitar to an international scale. He remains the composer of hugely important works of the classical guitar repertoire.
ItemSilent Spring: eight original music compositions by Mark Clement PollardPOLLARD, MARK CLEMENT ( 2012)This folio contains the following eight original music compositions: The Flames, The Tears, The Stones, for percussion duo; Under Simple Stars, for alto flute and electronics; Dusting off Roses for guitar duo; All Fired Up for brass and percussion; Colouring in the Sky, for bass clarinet and orchestra; Beating the Rusty Nail for violin and piano; The Forty-seventh Theorem for piano solo and Silent Spring for full orchestra. These works are a sample of the author’s creative output between 1987 and 2012 and are indicative of the author’s stylistic changes and artistic influences. They are evidence of an eclectic compositional style and representative of works for solo, duo, large ensemble and orchestra. Notably, The Flames, The Tears, The stones (1987) explores the timbre of metal and is based on long serially derived note patterns that move in large cycles. Under Simple Stars (1989) is a free atonal work exploring electronic audio enhancement, the ritual of performance and the nature of melody as pitch and timbre. Dusting off Roses (1995) is based on the cyclic and interlocking processes of Javanese Gamelan and realised within a diatonic environment. All Fired Up (2000) incorporates aspects of the big band sound and the process of firing up a groove. Colouring in the Sky (2003) is influenced by the transforming dot painting process of the indigenous people of the Utopia region of the Northern Territory. The Forty-seventh Theorem (2005) deconstructs aspects of Chopin’s piano Sonata Op 35 (no.2) and rebuilds them through a series, textural, timbral, rhythmic, harmonic and melodic development processes. Beating the Rusty Nail (2006) blends Taiko drumming rhythms and basic funk patterns. Silent Spring (2012) is written to fulfil the Doctor of Music requirement for a new major work. It is inspired by the Rachel Carson book of the same name and is a collection of environmental sound images using five approaches to diatonicism. The folio works have a total duration of approximately 152 minutes and are submitted in three volumes both as notated scores and audio recordings.
ItemThe guitar in nineteenth-century Buenos Aires: towards a cultural history of an Argentine musical emblemPLESCH, MELANIE ( 1998)This study examines the role of the guitar in Argentine culture through an in-depth analysis of historical, musical, pictorial and literary documentation from nineteenth-century Buenos Aires. Esteemed as an instrument of art music and simultaneously stigmatised by its relationship with the gaucho during the first half of the nineteenth century, the guitar was promoted, towards the 1880s, to the status of "national instrument." However, at the same time that it was celebrated as the musical emblem of the nation, the prestige of the classic guitar diminished, and it was relegated to a peripheral position within mainstream art music. This apparent paradox, it is argued, is deeply entrenched in the process of identity construction and nation-building that took place in Argentina during that period and is the result of discursive practices that present and represent the instrument (as well as Argentine culture) in an endless play of binary oppositions. The monolithic image of a unified "Argentine guitar" is questioned, and it is proposed that the physical object that we call guitar was regarded as at least two different cultural artefacts between which a continual slippage of meaning occurred. Accordingly, the binary opposition "classic guitar/popular guitar," is considered analogous to the forceful antinomy "civilisation/barbarism," a well-known dichotomy that has had a profound influence on Argentine and Latin American thought since it was coined in 1845 by Domingo F. Sarmiento in his influential Civilizacion y Barbarie. This dissertation is organised in two sections. The first examines the situation of the guitar from the revolution of May 25, 1810 until the end of Juan Manuel de Rosas's government in 1852. Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of the social map and the political history of this period, addresses the ideological agenda of the elite groups that came to power after the May revolution and presents the dichotomy civilisation/barbarism. Chapter 2 focuses on the gaucho guitar. Literary and pictorial representations are scrutinised in three levels, focusing on their role in the elite's construction of the Self and the Other, their importance in the genesis of a dominant discourse on the gaucho, and assessing the actual information about the gaucho's musical practices that they convey. Chapter 3 explores the classic guitar tradition in Buenos Aires during the first half of the nineteenth century in the form of a documentary history, demonstrating the presence of the guitar in the music-making of the upper-classes and its prestige and esteem within the porteno musical world. Critical biographies of the major guitarists and guitarist-composers of the period are provided, and the extant music composed in the area is described and analysed. The second section of the study is concerned with the guitar from the fall of Rosas up to the centennial of the May revolution in 1910. Chapter 4 sets out the historical and theoretical background for this period, focusing on the nation-building process and the debate on "Argentineness" generated by the unwanted effects of mass immigration and the rapid modernisation of the country. This situation gave rise to the so-called "resurrection" of the gaucho and the appropriation of his cultural universe as the essence of Argentine identity. The role played by representations of the guitar in this process is examined in Chapter 5, drawing attention to their most salient characteristics: distancing and nostalgia. The images of the gaucho guitar in literature, visual arts, advertisements and piano music are analysed and it is argued that the manner in which the guitar was incorporated into these discourses discloses the ideological agenda of the nation-building project. Chapter 6 concentrates on the classic guitar tradition during this period and, in that respect, it can be regarded as a mirror of Chapter 3. Although the instrument was still cultivated by the middle and upper-classes, it experienced a substantial loss of prestige, and it was no longer deemed at the same level as other art music instruments. As in Chapter 3, the spaces for performance are explored, critical biographies of the main guitarists of the period are offered, and the extant repertory is described and analysed. A catalogue of the guitar music composed in Buenos Aires during the nineteenth century is presented in the Appendix, providing a thematic index, publishing data, and location of copies where available.