Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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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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    Mga awit mula sa kalooblooban: finding Filipino national identity in song: a contextualisation and analysis of prison songs written during the Marcos regime
    Mckinnon, James Emmanuel ( 2019)
    The Marcos dictatorship pushed identity into new spaces as a matter of necessity during the martial law period in the Philippines in the late twentieth century. During this time voices were suppressed, and culture limited in its ability to be critical. The representation of core tenants of a society’s character in its art and culture is a well-understood concept, and when layers of colonialism, political dictatorship, and the restricted liberty are added into this context, a different perceptive can be understood about the way that society is under duress. This thesis argues that songs written in the Philippines between 1972 and 1983 by political prisoners reflected qualities in national identity. This thesis will outline the deeper historical context of the prison songs and analyse a number of important influences on them in order to tie the threads of Filipino history together across centuries and generations. This thesis shows how identity reflected influences on the Philippines and how subsequent qualities manifest within art. Furthermore, using the Marcos martial law period as an example of this, the way in which that identity was shaped, challenged, and moulded to express discontent with the governmental practices. Within this, songs and poems were written by political prisoners’ act as representations of those actions and propose and conceptualise a perspective on the past and present that give to the future.
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    Music, politics and ideology: a critical look at the ideological perspectives that shape our observations of music and politics
    McIvor, Luke ( 2018)
    A critical look at the ideological perspectives that shape our observations of music and politics
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    Marjorie Lawrence’s Australian and European troop tours, 1944-1946
    Lincoln-Hyde, Ellan A. ( 2016)
    In 1944 While the Australian Army battled Japanese troops in New Guinea and the Allied Nations continued the fight against Axis forces in Europe, a performance of German operatic works sung by Marjorie Lawrence was being cheered on at a remote army base in Australia’s Northern Territory. By 1946 Lawrence was singing the same German repertoire in Berlin to an audience of United States, Russian, French and British Generals accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic. This dissertation aims to answer why an opera singer was chosen to entertain one of the biggest military audiences of World War II in Australia, why an Australian was chosen to sing at the highly diplomatic Berlin concert in 1946, why Lawrence was singing Wagner, Richard Strauss and other German composers’ works to Allied forces at all and on both occasions, why Lawrence sang the repertoire she did.
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    Hurdy-gurdy: contemporary destinations
    Nowotnik, Piotr ( 2012)
    The aim of this dissertation is to bring the fact of presence of a relatively unknown musical instrument – the hurdy-gurdy – to reader’s attention while focusing on the musicality of the instrument and its constant evolution throughout the history to modern times. The hurdy-gurdy is often considered a musical oddity – a novelty – often misunderstood due to its inaccurate etymology and – oddly enough – suffering a stigma of marginalisation which originated from outdated social class divisions throughout our history of culture. Those who decided to uncover the true past of the instrument often had to confront problems of a logistic or economic nature – e.g. the hurdy-gurdy is not easy to acquire, to build or to purchase. Those conditions though lead to the creation of a special bond with the instrument, which I as a composer, researcher and hurdy-gurdy player, find unique and very rewarding; a bond which I could not successfully form with any popular and widely available musical instrument. While enthusiasm and dedication is necessary to become a competent player, the appreciation of the past of the hurdy-gurdy is very satisfying and inspirational adventure taking aspiring players through the sounds and musical idioms which are not easily found in popular streams originating from past three centuries of popularized tradition. By presenting the current status quo of this instrument, I am aiming at delivering an accessible compendium of information and insight into the plethora of potential musical application for the hurdy-gurdy, – with respect to currently available instruments, performed and recorded music and areas for further experimentation and development. In doing so, I decided to utilise descriptive analyses of samples of existing music representing different artistic approach to the instrument; interviews with selected players and makers and my own personal experience with technical aspects of the hurdy-gurdy. Knowing the instrument without hearing its traditional oeuvre and playing it for the first time without knowing ‘what to play’ is probably one of the most important moments in one’s own discovery of a new world of sounds. While the chronological brief included in this work addresses a wide historical scope, the main objective is to present the hurdy-gurdy as an able and adequate instrument for music students today, amateur and professional performers and enthusiasts alike, as well as for musicologists. The chapters discussing technical solutions allowing the hurdy-gurdy to be adequately incorporated into contemporary styles of music and its idioms require an intermediate level of understanding of musical terminology and physical aspects of sound-production, conductivity of the sound waves and a basic level of knowledge on instrument maintenance and handling. A certain level of knowledge on electrification, amplification, recording and MIDI equipment is advised yet not critical for an understanding of this dissertation. The existing knowledge about the instrument suffers from inadequacies in its scope – historical treaties are lacking musical application for contemporary player and many modern-day enthusiasts of the instrument are often limited in perceiving their instrument as a passable tool for contemporary improvisation and musical experiments. I therefore believe that this dissertation will encapsulate the majority of the aspects of the instrument and shed a wider light on its presence in musical culture.