Fine Arts and Music Collected Works - Theses
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In The Middle Of A Dream: The Craft and Phenomenology of Songwriting
In the Middle of a Dream Abstract, the count in One two three FOUR! The notion of 'song' is ubiquitous in Western culture but not much is known about songwriting which is odd considering how many songs have been written. At a formal level, songs and the way in which they are made are discussed infrequently. “While scholars and institutions have for some time studied and taught popular music from a socio-cultural perspective, a review of songwriting- process literature (C. Harrison, 2012d) reveals that popular, contemporary songwriting practice has not been widely researched academically...” How are the ideas generated? Do they arrive fully formed as if channelled from a higher place or are they conceived, written and assembled like other forms of creative endeavour? In fact, on a fundamental level are popular songs even actually written like the Lieder of Schumann or made from bits and pieces jammed in a recording studio? This project is a study of my practice as a songwriter. It has been pursued through the writing of a suite of songs and documented in a folio of notes, lead sheets and recordings, a live performance and accompanying dissertation. However, the recordings and performance are only to establish the fact that the writing took place for it is the writing of songs I have examined and not the making of records. In this regard I have diverged from the emerging scholarly discipline of the art of record production to focus primarily on the creation of the performable or recordable artefact. The recordings provided an end point to the writing process as well as documenting the finished works. References to the recording sessions note where changes to the compositions resulted and how the research was impacted. The songs were written with the sole intention of determining how they were written and not to create a stylistically or thematically unified whole. On the contrary my aim was to write as varied a selection of material as I could. It did not matter if the songs were any good or not. It didn’t matter if the recordings or the performances captured there on were proficient. Even studying the writing of a dreadful song would reveal a process worth avoiding. And the making of many a bad record has resulted in the occasional hit. In his book Song Writers on Song Writing4 Paul Zollo refers to three stages in the creation of a popular song, the writing, arranging and recording. I have focused solely on the first stage and from a songwriter’s ‘insider’ perspective. That being said there did develop a phenomenological and self-referential narrative as the writing proceeded and the study of the creative process tended to feedback into itself. At times this self-referencing considered the author’s autobiographical significance, the influence of the research on the research and interactions with participants. A reflective journal documenting the predetermined and accidental methods involved relates back to relevant popular and academic expositions. The following people have supported and helped me along the way and for that I thank them, Dr Robert Vincs for direction, advice and tastefully appropriate playing and Dr Tim Nikolsky for encouragement, organisation and great time. Gratitude also to the musicians who played on the recordings, Serge de Lucio, Margot Leighton, Anthony Barnhill and Daniel Berry and to Rohan Wallis for a finely tuned aesthetic. Particular appreciation for Niko Schauble’s input, he played on a couple, engineered some, mixed most and mastered all of the tracks with skill, generosity and good humour.
The Identification of Production Methods Exploring Cell-based Repetition and Development in Techno Music and Audio-Visual Display.
The Identification of Production Methods Exploring Cell-based Repetition and Development in Techno Music and Audio-Visual Display. In 2020, accessibility to the tools of electronic music production have become near ubiquitous to anyone with access to modestly powered computing equipment. The use of musical, cell-based repetition as a musical device is straightforward to achieve using these tools, however further production methods are available to augment and enhance this process. This research investigates production methods exploring cell-based repetition in techno music, whilst exploring the representation of these concepts in visual media to create synchronous audio-visual work. A practice-based research methodology has led to the creation of this folio of eleven productions of techno music with accompanying audio-visual display. Additionally, this folio is accompanied by a 20,000-word dissertation, exploring the production methods and processes adopted and explored throughout the creative work. The dissertation also contains the compilation of a relevant field of practitioners and audio, that has served as a source of reference for analysis. Throughout this research, an exploration of temporal time perceptions and plateau-type experiences has served as a guiding aesthetic reference for working with the cellular repetition and exploring methods for creating development over time. In this dissertation, six areas of study are examined: Investigation into suitable construction methods for the creation of repeating cells; the use of polyrhythmic devices; the use of phasing LFO processes to create gradual yet constant, cyclical interactions of timbral variation; improvisation through real-time spontaneous interactive processes and the use of gradual, incremental automation to instrument parameters, exploring non-cyclical, unidirectional change. Lastly, the application of these audio production concepts is explored in the use of repeating visual cells in the creation of the synchronised audio-visual work.
The Creative Approaches of Sound-making to Spoken-word Narrative in a Multimedia Environment
This research paper will examine the creative approaches of sound-making to a spoken-word narrative in a multimedia environment through practise-led research in the form of a body of audiovisual works. It will explore how certain electroacoustic compositional techniques on sampled sound can be used to convey a spoken narrative and enhance how the listener/viewer experiences it in conjunction with visual media. It will investigate this through the analysis of work from other iconic composers and discuss how and why their techniques have been used in my own work. It will then document my own creative processes in using spoken stories and poems as the source material through making a new body of work to understand the creative approaches of sound-making in giving a sonic identity to the voice and environmental sounds and analyse what informs my making process in a narrative-driven multimedia work.
A Cannibalist's Manifesto: Candomblé Rhythms for Drum Kit
Afro-Brazilian rhythms from the tradition of Candomble have had a significant influence on Brazilian secular music. That influence can be found in samba, choro, Brazilian jazz, and popular music. Although Candomble and associated musical practices have been investigated by musicologists and sociologists, the rhythmic and contemporary performance aspects are poorly represented in academia. As an Australian musician with a long-time interest in Brazilian music, it became a natural progression for me to develop an interest in the rhythms that form the basis of so much Brazilian music. As a drummer, my research has involved the adaptation of traditional drumming practices to the modern drum kit, with an emphasis on groove creation and improvisation. This is a creative research project that combines recordings with analysis. My processes and outcomes will in part be analysed relative to Oswaldo de Andrade's Manifesto Antropofagico (the Cannibalist Manifesto) - where the cultural cannibal seeks to absorb multiple and diverse influences in order to create something new.
Embodiment of the Real: An interdisciplinary study of subjectivity, trauma and spiritual cultivation
In Lacanian psychoanalysis the Real stands for a register of the psyche that resists symbolisation. It may erupt through contingent traumatic events, unbearable bodily intensities, anxiety, or death. How is one able to process these painful events? Here, I refer to the tragic event of my father’s brain stroke, which turned him half-paralysed, our family breakdown and subsequent passing of both of my parents. This interdisciplinary practice-based research seeks to properly understand the above sorrowful events of eruption of the Real. My goal is to establish a plane of knowledge that allows viewing the psychophysical processes of encountering the Real positively, and to develop skilful means of integrating it into the subject’s life. Applying the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha as a method I seek to alleviate and integrate these psychophysical processes, primarily via practices of insight meditation and movement arts – taijiquan, parkour, martial arts, swimming and movement improvisation. My thesis seeks to provide phenomenological accounts pertaining to subjectivity in the form of creative writings describing my personal experience in undertaking the above practices. In addition to that, videos of movement practices and performances are to be provided as creative works.
From fact to fiction: a reflexive analysis of how screenwriter and subject intersect in the transformative process of authoring a modern biopic
The choice to work within the fictional frame of the biopic genre gives the screenwriter powerful representational tools to vivify character. But the tension between historical fidelity, and narrative fiction, raises important ethical questions. What responsibility does the marketing phrase, "based on a true story" place on the shoulders of the socially responsible screenwriter who is essentially writing a fiction? This practice-based enquiry responds to these questions by challenging the pervasive expectation that writers of historical and biographical fiction defend their truth claims on the methodological terms of the historian, and offers an alternative to a media studies proposal to cross-fertilise screenwriting practice with media ethics. By reframing the conversation away from empirical notions of historical fidelity, and consequentialist models of ethical evaluation, a significant methodological issue emerges, one that stems from a profound misconception of filmmaking practice that views the making of moving images as the non-reflexive application of mechanical skills. To counter this misconception, a working definition of filmmaking methodology is articulated, where mise-en-scene is shown to operate as a core reflexive strategy. This definition is intended to open up a conversation, and contribute to a better understanding of how filmmaking practice, of which screenwriting is a part, can generate and disseminate new knowledge in a range of forms and genres, including the biopic. Defining filmmaking as a creative practice also provides guidance to scholars, irrespective of discipline, who wish to engage with filmmaking as a rigorous methodological approach to conducting their own enquiries.
The Right Unravelling: Exploring The Synthesis of Somatics, Martial Arts and Improvised Dance for Technique and Performance
Taking a dialectical and reflective approach as the methodological framework for practice, this research investigates the synthesis of somatic movement practices with other performance based training forms, including martial arts, singing and percussion. Using essential building blocks of each training modality as tools, the research proposes that as each form is synthesised and enacted through somatic underpinnings, it allows for greater agency, awareness and dynamic 'moment to moment' potential to support choreographic structures, images and poetic narratives arising in improvised performance.
Collaboration and the Composer: Three Case Studies of Contrasting Collaborative Environments within the Creation of Music Theatre
This thesis is an analysis of collaborative relationships from a case study of Music theatre works in which I function as composer. The aim of this creative practice-led research is to illuminate working processes from the perspective of a composer-collaborator in the creation of these works, and reflect on key aspects of the collaborations which affected the way I approached composition and the works’ final performance outcomes. It discusses and documents my compositional approaches to creating sound for three productions: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, an existing text by Bertolt Brecht, a devised work including aspects of physical theatre entitled Crossroads and finally, contemporary playwright David Ives’ Venus in Fur. The reflection and discussion of my compositional process and creative output for these works will focus on three key aspects of collaboration: hierarchy in the rehearsal room between artists and art forms, language and communication between artists and how this is facilitated, as well as multidisciplinary timeframes and how these contrasting timeframes affected my ability to compose. Through this critical framework, I aim to illuminate how these factors shaped both my working methods and the sonic outcomes within these contrasting collaborative environments. The written dissertation is accompanied by a creative folio of works from the three case studies discussed. This includes both archival video footage of selected sections of these works from the live theatrical performances as well as accompanying audio recordings of the music written, where music and sound was pre-recorded.
Theatre practitioners have displayed an increasing interest in staging Refugee narratives, with approaches undertaking a number of methodologies. This thesis intends to look at a larger pattern of socio-political power relations, rather than a case by case analysis. The focus is on frame and thus primarily theoretical. Essentially this research looks at how Refugee theatre reproduces colonial terms of enunciation that restrict, limit, prescribe and demand how Refugees must perform to particular characters and narratives—both on and off stage. The research asserts that the performative demands of Refugee as a socio-political identity- exists before the theatrical site- extending to the performance demands of Refugee Theatre. I suggest that Refugee Theatre primarily relies on truth claims not because they are the most effective of all forms; but because it remains problematically tied to expectations to prove truth, authenticity and innocence. Refugee is continually asked to speak to these, as a Performance of Credibility. This has severe implications who gets seen and how they get seen. I argue that Performing Credibility is silencing rather than self determining. Thus it argues that that Refugee theatre as Performances of Credibility, function as an extension of the geospatial border in that they are just as oppressive, violent and silencing in its performative demands. The thesis offers two performative interventions that frame ‘Refugeeness’ in ways that resist these colonial narratives, as a form of anti-Performing Credibility dramaturgy. Drawing upon Latin American decolonial scholarship, the thesis argues for a conception of Refugeeness as ongoing and navigational, displacing borders and evading nationalist frameworks. The thesis explores how Refugeeness might be a useful re-frame to ensure Refugee challenges borders, rather than be assaulted within them; Refugeeness as a generative, creative site towards re-emergence and a step away from the burden of continuously Performing Credibility.
Cueca, tradition and innovation: utilising the traditional Bolivian music form of Cueca as a generative tool in jazz based composition and improvisation
The Cueca is an expression of Latin American culture in the forms of dance, poetry and music. This investigation examines the important elements of the Bolivian Cueca, its history, development and geographical journey alongside a creative element of practice-based research arising from an analysis of my first professional recordings of Cueca that explore African-American jazz-based improvisation leading to new compositions. For this purpose, I will undertake an ethnographic and musical analysis of the Bolivian Cueca (structure, rhythm, harmony, melody and improvisation) from the first pioneers and influential composers and interpreters Simeón Roncal (pianist, 1870-1953) and José Lavadenz (mandolinist, 1883-1967). This includes an autethnographic reflection of my relationship with my cultural identity as a composer, performer and son of the Bolivian composer Gilberto Rojas (1916-1983). My intention is to ground the rationale that integrates my later study of jazz-based improvisational studies within the Cueca tradition. I have included a phenomenological contextual analysis of my 2005 recording of “Chuquisaqueñita” in the CD/DVD “Lunar” and findings from my practice-led research which enabled my understanding of the hitherto unconscious elements that I had adopted from the aforementioned composers to then create and spontaneously engage jazz and improvisation techniques within the Cueca. My creative work includes Cuecas that I composed throughout this study, which was inspired by my personal understanding as a Bolivian currently living within a multicultural context in Melbourne, Australia, highlighting the development process of Australian jazz sensibilities alongside the cross cultural notions of agency we encounter as musicians within globalised jazz.
Music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice: critically exploring gender and power with young people in school
This project sought to locate music therapy within broader health, research, and education contexts, as a participatory and anti-oppressive practice for young people in school to explore issues related to gender and power. In parallel, the research aimed to expand music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice (Baines, 2013), specifically focusing on deepening music therapists’ understanding of critical issues related to gender, power, and young people in education settings. Predicated on the notion that schools can be both sites of violence, and microcosms for change-making, the project occurred during a time of significant shifts across education settings worldwide to respond to endemic gender-based violence (Chandra-Mouli et al., 2017). Meanwhile, young people themselves continue to demonstrate new forms of resistance to gender-based violence and dominant gender and sexuality norms (Bragg et al., 2018; Keller et al., 2018). This project responds to a need for approaches that support young people’s autonomy and challenge processes of pathologisation and individualisation; approaches that seek to understand social structures, and the ways in which young people are shaped by their relationships with these social structures, and with each other (Brunila & Rossi, 2018). Framed broadly as a participatory action research project, the study was informed by a series of music-based workshops conducted in the first year, exploring the issues that young people identified as most important in relation to gender. The project then established a music therapy group program in a government school. The school was located in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, with an index of community socio-educational advantage below the national average, and a high percentage of students with a language background other than English. This primary project took the form of a critical ethnography, and generated a wide range of data over nine months. Interviews were conducted with five staff and sixteen of the young people who participated in music therapy groups exploring issues related to gender and power. Discourses of risk and deficit emerged as critical issues to respond to in the project, and became a key focus of the four chapters of results. The research revealed the complex forms of violence that can occur when exploring gender-based violence in a school context, and how these relate to young people’s layered subjectivities and social positioning. The findings demonstrated a need to problematise and expand upon current responses to gender-based violence in the context of Australian education settings, especially where Whiteness and colonial relations remain profoundly underexamined. Chapter Six overviews the five broad, salient themes that emerged in relation to the role of music in creating conditions for young people to explore gender. Chapter Seven outlines the role of music therapists in supporting young people to do so, the unique skillset and critical lens required in this emerging practice, and a new method developed in the project: ‘Insight-Oriented Narrative Songwriting’. Informed by anti-oppressive and decolonial approaches to reframing violence and harm, music therapy is ultimately constructed as a practice congruent with shifting understandings and paradigms related to trauma. Overarchingly, the research exposes the complex conditions of power in schools, and explicates the potential of music therapy within these conditions, to support young people to resist discursive positioning, and rewrite their own subjectivities.
Betwixt & between: a visual representation of liminal space and beyond
This MFA examines how digital technology affects liminal space or the in-between. The title of this research paper ‘Betwixt & Between’, references the essay, Betwixt and Between: The liminal period in Rites De Passage, written by the cultural anthropologist Victor Turner in 1964. In this essay Turner describes the process of ritual initiation as a three stage process, the middle of which he assigns the term, liminal.1 ‘Visual representations of liminal space and beyond’ refers to the visual outcomes made while investigating the transformative nature of liminal space and what might occur beyond the threshold in the post liminal stage. Condensing the meaning of liminal space to its essence — that of transformation, the movie Xanadu is used as a medium and starting point for the process. Paul Stenner in, Liminality and Experience: A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Psychosocial, talks about, “the process of ritual as a type of technology,” and how, “at core, the various art forms (including theatre, painting, poetry, music and so forth) can also be considered as liminal affective technologies, and that they share important features with ritual .”2 The use of binary code, the very basis of computing, essentially transforms data from one form to another. This process of constant transformation creates multiple instances of liminal space. Using programming, microprocessors and electronics, the movie Xanadu is initially transformed using instruction. The raw data of the movie is altered to create glitches that reveal the materiality of the digital movie file. During the transformation process the liminal space is laid bare, poised on a threshold between one state and another. The use of digital technologies as part of the process when making these works introduces a collaboration in the making of the work. In some instances algorithms were applied to introduce an element of chance to the making. This action takes absolute control away from the artist and created collaborations between the program and the artist. The decision to use iPhones, iPads and HDMI displays, led the research to identify the interface as a liminal space. A comparison between the body and performance, to an interface, took the transformation one step further by providing a physical manifestation of liminal space. Examining this topic has led the research to determine that the process of making this work is central to the idea of liminal space and is just as important as the visual outcome. This idea is similar to ideas put forward by artists like Sol LeWitt that use instruction as a basis for their art making and Laura Owens who questions where a painting is, rather than what is a painting. As part of a post-internet practice, the final iteration of this process led research is presented in the form of a roller disco that echoes the theme of the movie and reveals the in-between for all to see. As part of the immersive exhibition, a series of electronic works, paintings, prints and a performance was presented in the Margaret Lawrence Gallery in December 2018.