Fine Arts and Music Collected Works - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 13
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.
How do Digital Audio Workstations influence the way musicians make and record music?
Digital technology in music is evolving at an accelerating pace. Musicians are increasingly relying on software instruments and digital audio workstations (DAWs) to create popular music. This research examines the hypothesis that digital technology has changed the way musicians make music and explores concepts of digital music making, asking: How is technology changing the process of creating, performing and recording music? To explore this question, I acted as the recording engineer and producer (defined here as planning the work with a technical understanding, to record, mix and master for a final release) for two artists: semi-professional singer-songwriter Emily Soon, and amateur band Professor Walk. The process of production from start to finish involved the use of two different DAWs: Logic for Emily Soon and Pro Tools for Professor Walk. Examining the strengths and weaknesses of each of these DAWs relative to the creative process, with particular focus on signal processing, portability, sound palates, cloud-based storage solutions, ease of recording and editing, automation and telemetric collaboration, gave insight into the relationship between creation, performance, and recording in a modern popular-music context.
Folio of compositions
Folio of 6 compositions including orchestral, choral and chamber music. The works traverse a stylistic spectrum, moving freely between the simple and the complex, synthesising liturgical choral traditions with instrumental modernism, resulting in a unique approach to harmonic and rhythmic materials.
Letters to my father: Yan Wanyoo Peepayan
Yan Wanyoo Peepayan, Letters to my Father, is the written component of Australia’s inaugural Doctorate of Visual and Performing Arts. The dissertation and its accompanying huge collection of creative works narrate Associate Professor Richard Frankland’s deeply personal and poetic story of a life long journey that performs and documents the complexities of First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing. Frankland, a significant holder of Gunditjmara knowledge, is renowned as an artist-warrior: a community leader and educator, songman, musician, filmmaker, poet, playwright and novelist who uses any medium to tell his stories of the painful past, an optimistic present and hopeful tomorrows. This collection showcases both his voice through art and the ways he facilitates the voices of hidden Australia through art, acts that inspire and energise reconciliation and social change. His contributions aim to revitalise First Nations cultural practices and language and combat the ‘poverty of spirit’ that is the legacy of colonisation. His collection of hundreds and poems and songs sing of what was, what is and what can be. The films and plays such as No Way to Forget (1996), Conversations with the Dead (20002) and Walking into the Bigness (2014), stitch a new cultural tapestry for the nation. His stories strive to shape a new national identity, insisting the past is a foundation for all hope. The collection is a statement that art is a tool for cultural capacity building not only for the First Peoples, but for others, for all. It is a dissertation and collection that addresses the dominant culture front on. The shape of the dissertation is original and non-traditional, it does not look like the customary thesis. Like other First Nations scholars around the world, Frankland has insisted on his own unique shape to facilitate his voice, embracing his culture’s oral and performed knowledge systems that are deeply connected to Country. Readers from the dominant culture engaging with this form of First Nations Storywork will find themselves in the contact zone, the space between the coloniser and the colonised, the First People and the settlers. Frankland treads lightly in the space, without apportioning guilt and blame, acknowledging a shared legacy with an invitation over the cultural abyss to places of possibility and hope. Yan Wanyoo Peepayan, is a series of fascinating and generous access points for the non-Indigenous and First Nations readers alike. He uses his art and voice to assist in both navigating the dominant culture and also in assisting the dominant culture to find a place within Australia by embracing First Nations culture.
The essence of performance on the acoustic drum kit: a study of feel
This practice-led research investigates and discusses the terms and applications of ‘feel’ and ‘time’ in acoustic drumming, and through various performance settings I break down and examine how these phenomena exist within my performance. Topics of this research include feel, time, groove, improvisation, pulse, liveness, and motif, all of which are looked at through the various effects they can have on performance. This dissertation includes both written and recorded documentation of my own performances, as well as drawing on sources of information such as music notation (transcriptions), sound waves, various publications, liner notes and experiential descriptions of each performance setting. The creative works presented in this research are made up of various recorded performances, which can be identified in the ‘List of Embedded Audio’. As sections of this dissertation are based on specific recordings, the relevant audio is also listed within the text. This should allow the reader to listen to each recorded performance before or after the relevant section is read. Each recorded work for this research is presented in an mp3 format.
It is neither this nor that: a search for material and spatial representation of the ‘in-between’ cultural position
This research, drawn from my own experiences as both an immigrant and a tourist, investigates the cultural space of ‘in-between’. I explore the possibility of demarcating this in-between position by working with culturally disparate objects and images to create temporary material artefacts. By constructing an installation, I ask if the unhinged and dislocated cultural experience of the in-between can be transposed to other people. Using everyday objects, images, languages and commonly-practiced activities, I locate four intercultural events, and their related scenarios, in the form of sculpture, videos and performance. Each scenario depicts a propositional mode of cross-cultural interaction. Through this creative process, the ideas of the in-between transpire from the dynamic articulation and representation of cultural difference. In this research, language, the human body, material form and geographic sites are perceived as various forms of cultural representation, manipulated to construct cultural conflicts and negotiation. Incidents, such as phonetic translation, transformation of one’s cultural identity, the appropriation of the existing products and the human intervention of a geographic site, interrupt in the signification process of the existing cultural forms. These reveal the openings in the linguistic structure, the idea of the Self, material composition and the cultural identity of a place. Through these openings, the in-between is represented in the notion of cultural hybridity as a unique place for forming culture and the Self.
Time after time: an exploration of lineages of social space and materiality
This practice-led research project is concerned with investigating lineages of social space and its associated materialities constituted by homosexual men of the past. The project, which is reflected on in the ensuing paper, was developed over two years and has taken form as an emergent sculptural and spatial investigation that considers how an artistic practice can constitute a form of materialist historiography. The final outcomes of this research are comprised of a written dissertation and an installation which includes prints, video and sculptural objects. Each element of the installation elaborates on a proposition reflected on through the dissertation to consider trans-historical relationality; the performative and ephemeral establishment of lineages in the present through installation; and the literary evocation of homosexual desire through abstraction and codes. The exploration of a series of ‘texts’ has informed the propositions that have been developed through the studio research to consider the question: if and or how can an artistic practice act as a materialist method for evoking lineages of homosexual social-space?