Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 303
On the precipice of some space else: an ecology of being through (with) improvisational performance process
All performance events, and particularly those of General Assembly of Interested Parties (GAIP), that I have participated in from 2014 until 2019, constitute the work upon which I have based reports, extrapolations and interpretations in text, resulting in this dissertation. The original works, in varying physical modes and carried out in wide-ranging contexts, were undertaken for their own sake, as creative imperatives. That work has come and gone across time. Documentation from this activity is a new work and experience in itself (in the making or witnessing) even though its existence stems from the original event, it is freed of obligation to simply record what happened. Writing, directly referencing or stimulated by these performative events, exists as an improvisation upon and around memory of the original work. Much, but not all, of the vast quantity and array of original work was documented, to some extent. The format of documentation exists as video, still image, audio file and physical object. As the reader will discover, the digital file containing the dissertation text also contains digital images, external video links, and is a ‘designed space’ that takes notice of the aesthetic experience of reading text in combination with textual meaning. This approach is in keeping for an examination of an holistic creative practice. There are three audio files, using source material from each year of data gathering (2014-16), and one video that together with all linked media and text, constitute the creative project. External links for the three audio files and video file can be found on pages 153 and 154 of this document.
Hyper-visibility and under-representation: inclusivity, diversity, and the alternative music scene in Melbourne
This ethnographic study documents the lived experience of People of Colour (PoC) making alternative and punk music in Melbourne, Australia. Exploring local discourse on cultural diversity, inclusivity and racial difference, I offer previously undocumented Australian perspectives on race and popular music. The study traces issues of whiteness, anti-racism and punk in Australia down to three key components: subculture, genre and capital. Through formal, semi-structured interviews, the study asks how notions of cultural diversity impact alternative music scenes. I argue that PoC in these scenes experience race-based exclusion, both a result of the longstanding erasure of PoC from written histories of Western punk, combined with Australia’s specific position as a white multicultural, settler-colonial nation. In challenging the notion of punk as a white musical tradition, and recognising the specific conditions that foster racism in Australian music scenes, my informants and I discuss how anti-racist values may be meaningfully embodied in local music contexts.
Music for Classroom Wellbeing Professional Learning: The Exploration of a Music Therapist Teacher Support Program
This emergent qualitative research project explored new music therapy practices for supporting teachers in the current neoliberal education climate. For over twenty years, authors have described diverse school-based music therapist teacher support programs in which the practising music therapist has intended to support teachers (Rickson, 2010b). However, it has also been acknowledged that teachers have found it difficult to sustain practices and benefits from such programs after the music therapist has left the school setting (McFerran, Crooke, & Bolger, 2017; McFerran, Thompson, & Bolger, 2015; Rickson & Twyford, 2011). A Critical Interpretive Synthesis of forty publications pertaining to music therapist teacher support programs allowed the identification of a lack of focus on the needs and resources of teachers in the music therapy teacher support programs described. This thesis attempts to address this realisation through the exploration of alternative practices of music therapist teacher support that maximise the possibility that teachers sustain benefits and practices long after the program has ceased. Within this project, ethnographically informed research methods were used to develop understandings of the practice of supporting six participating teachers. A need for supporting teachers to strengthen classroom wellbeing was identified. Teachers then engaged in a music therapist led program named “Music for Classroom Wellbeing Professional Learning”. Findings revealed that through focusing directly on teachers, teacher participants were supported to enrich their musicality, develop their use of teaching practices, and foster self-care. Teachers’ growth in these three interconnected domains appeared to allow them to strengthen the wellbeing of all members of the classroom. Furthermore, teachers were enabled to engage in practices that countered the performative pressures of the current neoliberal school context. Through positioning as an enabler of sharing, the music therapist encouraged teachers to share music, knowledge and aspects of their personal self within and beyond the school setting in a manner that continued after the program had ceased. Based on these findings, this thesis concludes with a series of provocations to music therapists considering future music therapist professional and caregiver support programs across contexts. Music therapists are encouraged to consider the ways in which they may similarly position as an enabler of sharing and support professionals and caregivers in other settings. Enacting the shifts in practice described within this thesis has the potential for supporting others to use music to transform the lives of themselves and the people they are caring for without a music therapist present.
Facing the Music: d/Deafness, Music and Culture in Australia
“Capital-D” Deaf culture transcends the medical diagnosis of deafness as deficit to celebrate a positive cultural-linguistic identity. Shared sign languages and the lived experience of d/Deafness have fostered uniquely Deaf creative practices, including musical ones. Internationally, scholars have examined music-making within this community and amongst those who identify as audiologically, or lowercase-d, deaf. Despite a thriving Deaf arts scene in Melbourne, however, the local evolution of d/Deaf musical practice remains poorly understood. Who makes the music that d/Deaf Australians encounter, and why? How might Australian Sign Language (Auslan) combine with other local socio-economic factors to shape d/Deaf music access, understanding and production? This thesis initially uses archival research to construct the first history of music in Melbourne’s Deaf community from 1884 to the present day, positioning musical practices within a narrative of institutionalisation and resistance which offers context for today’s Deaf arts. Subsequent chapters present an ethnography of musical and cultural practice amongst d/Deaf Australians, examining how music features in arts and cultural practices led by Deaf people, how it is made accessible through Auslan interpretation, and the ways in which growing up d/Deaf in Australia shapes attitudes to music. Interviews with Deaf community members and allies—Auslan interpreters, Teachers of the Deaf and d/Deaf music fans—and participant-observation at d/Deaf accessible and Deaf-led events reveal that music has considerable value to d/Deaf Australians. This value is located not in the musical works themselves, but in the opportunities they provide for advocacy, education, social interaction and identity formation. The latter part of the thesis problematises the distinction between physical and cultural deafness in the Australian context, carving out a space for liminal deaf identities through the lens of betweenity. In doing so, the work invites broader conceptions of musical accessibility. By situating Australia on a global map of d/Deaf and disability music scholarship, this thesis paves the way for further research.
Folio of Compositions
Monsoon Folio 1. Metal Downpour for large brass and percussion ensembles 10.00 2. Cloud Journey for Orchestra 8.00 3. The Wind Above the Ocean for alto flute and cello 7.00 4. Samudra Manthan for saxophone quartet, piano and three percussion 18.18 5. After the Rain piano solo 7.58 The folio works reflect a process of exploration across cultures, and through layers of subjectivity. As an entirety, the folio represents the trajectory of monsoon winds across the Indian Ocean towards Australia.
Waking the Dead Diva: Recovering the Expressive Sound World of Forgotten Nineteenth-Century Singers
Nineteenth-century singers were fundamentally defined by their powers of expression. What today constitutes “acceptable” performance practice of music from this period bears little resemblance, and in some cases, none, to the rich palette of expressive devices that once preoccupied the nineteenth-century singer. Early recordings from the phonographic catalogue preserve some of the greatest voices from the nineteenth century. They expose a hidden world of elaborate and un-notated expressive practices that challenge well established truths concerning the performance of music from this period. Far from contradicting written evidence, early recordings often paint a more complex picture concerning the art of expressive singing than some scholars might suggest. Until recently, however, these documents remained the providence of connoisseurs and enthusiasts, and were largely overshadowed by investigations into instrumental music. This study comprises a thesis that offers a rare scholarly insight from the perspective of a professional classical singer into forgotten recordings of the oldest voices on the early gramophone. Expressive slides (or portamento) and tempo modification, clearly preserved by artists on early recordings, represent two classes of popular nineteenth-century expressive devices that have gradually fallen out of favour in mainstream classical performance over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. The thesis seeks to re-evaluate the expressive potential of these extinct devices through a systematic exploration of their functional use, frequency, and musical context. The evidence gathered through this investigation informs the first Australian commercial recording projects of the historically informed performances of Schubert’s song-cycles, and comprise a performance portfolio which constitutes the rest of the PhD submission.
A systematic review of motion tracking technology and violins: applications to injury reduction
Violin is one of the most widely taught string instruments in the world. Despite the performance technique variations, there is the universal possibility of attaining a performance-related injury. Physical cause of such injuries is still relatively unknown. The purpose of this study was to identify literature on performance-related injury and technological application to harm reduction. Using a systematic review, three literature databases were searched through October 15 to 17, 2019. The search consisted of three combined groups of keywords: violin (e.g., violinist, violin performer) AND musculoskeletal (e.g., musculoskeletal, upper arm injury, overuse injury) AND motion tracking (e.g., motion tracking, kinesiology). The initial literature search strategy resulted in 192 potentially relevant articles. Finally, 26 articles were included in this review. The publication content suggested that motion tracking has a prominent position in violin performance injury reduction and pedagogy if a cross-disciplinary approach is taken. This research’s systematic review found an emerging field that heavily employed a quantitative research method, 3D motion capture; EMG; and Ultrasound technology, and was written primarily for a scientific community. Further research in this field would benefit greatly from the integration of both 3D motion capture and electromyography technologies.
Investigating the Voice Teacher’s Approach: An Australian Perspective
This thesis investigates the background, training, and teaching practices of exemplary classical and music theatre voice teachers working in Australia. Through mixed methods data collection, this thesis aims to identify common characteristics in self-reported and observed approaches taken by voice teachers. Psychological underpinnings in their teaching practices are identified, specifically in how they contribute to the teacher’s overall approach to teaching singing. Associations between these traits, along with teacher training and experience, are considered in how they influence the achievements of their students. Analyses are triangulated to offer a comprehensive understanding of the voice teacher’s approach. The first study investigated 13 voice teachers’ perceptions of their pedagogical practices through face-to-face interviews. Findings indicate that these teachers adopt an individualised approach, seek clarity and comprehension, and support their students’ independent learning practices. Their approaches are largely informed by their own pedagogical influences and a love of teaching. Empathy and leadership were also identified in the teachers’ self-report of their practices. The second study expanded to include 123 participants through an online survey exploring associations between teacher training, background, empathy, and leadership and the success of their students. Findings demonstrated significant associations between greater student achievement and the teacher’s own performance and teacher training and achievements as well as the number of students they have taught. Teacher leadership, specifically training facilitation and positive feedback, and teacher empathy also positively influence student achievement. The third study investigated the observed practices of seven classical and music theatre voice teachers in the context of delivering one-to-one lessons. Findings indicate that these voice teachers demonstrate empathy and transformational leadership in the one-to-one lesson context. These traits are critical ingredients to the successful communication of their extensive technical knowledgebase in an individualised manner. The teachers adapt their theoretical and practical knowledge to the individual student through an empathic and facilitative framework, drawing conclusions about the student through intimate, finely tuned, and constant verbal and non-verbal exchanges taking place throughout the lesson. Clear communication that honours both the teacher’s methods and the student’s individual needs is established in the initial, formative lessons. A strong student-teacher relationship then develops throughout their tuition whereby rapport and trust are established through an ongoing empathic response and a transformational style of leadership. In addition to learning how to sing through a vocal regime specific to their physical and developmental needs, the student is encouraged to explore their own independent learning practices through achievable goals with the ongoing support of their voice teacher. These findings offer new understandings of the voice teacher in Australia. A theoretical model has been developed for examining modern-day voice pedagogy practices.
Mga awit mula sa kalooblooban: finding Filipino national identity in song: a contextualisation and analysis of prison songs written during the Marcos regime
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.
Maximum volume yields maximum results: loudness as a compositional device in extreme contemporary music
This paper seeks to explore the ways in which loudness is used as a compositional device throughout three different performances by artists Sunn O))), Merzbow and Cat Hope. Section one discusses the concept of loudness as both an acoustic phenomenon, that enhances affective experiences, and as a cultural signifier, in which affirms scene identities that base their music on the use of loudness. This section also examines the literature on the use of loudness in extreme contemporary music in particular. Section two consists of case studies which analyse recordings of recent live performances from Sunn O))), Merzbow and Cat Hope. These analyses via spectrographs discuss the compositional framework of the performances, the performance techniques used, and the technical production of the sound, in relation to the use of extreme volume.
Blobs, Buzz and Rapid Patterning: Intra-Active Tools for Composition, Improvisation and Analysis
The world-renowned tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain once said a musician should “allow the instrument to speak” and “discover what the instrument wants to do.” After hearing this I was intrigued, inspired, and deeply unsettled. What do these statements mean? Are they meant literally or figuratively? Is it possible for an instrument to have agency? And what would it mean for an instrument to be an agent? More specifically, what would that mean for musical praxis? In this thesis, I examine conventional dichotomies and dualisms between human/non-human, theory/praxis and composer/improviser. I propose a language and framework for thinking about composing and improvising that draws on new materialist and object-oriented ontology philosophies. By considering human-instrument-concept intra-actions, this framework critiques the notions of the genius and virtuoso while providing a language to conceptualise my own creative work and that of other contemporary musicians. Central to my thinking are the concepts of blobs, buzz and rapid patterning, which are explored in diverse sonic, visual, social, environmental, biological, zoological and paradigmatic examples.
Edition as Work: The Editorial Interventions of Ferruccio Busoni, Alfred Cortot & Heinrich Schenker in the Publication of Canonical Piano Repertoire
Scholarly criticism of music notation tends to focus on the intentions of the composer, and neglect or dismiss the artistic agency of the editor. The famous notion of Werktreue, likewise, implies that the will of the composer is the only legitimate source of artistic intention. These attitudes run counter to the rich tradition of interventionist editing in nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, when editors put forth important aesthetic claims by emending the musical text that represented canonical repertoire. This study proposes the reception of interventionist music editions as a type of Work, using the frameworks of aesthetic and literary criticism on Works of Art, and the Goehrian theory of work-concept. From this proposition is introduced the concept of ‘Edition-Text’ as the text of an Edition-Work, which is a separable entity from the text of a Composition-Work. The study applies these notions to the preliminary analysis of publications of canonical piano repertoire, edited by the three contemporaneous pianist-scholars Ferruccio Busoni, Alfred Cortot, and Heinrich Schenker. It commences with a survey of the three editors’ historical and aesthetic contexts, followed by a comparative study of a selection of their respective edited publications, the Busoni-Ausgabe, Editions de travail and Erlaeuterungsausgabe. A range of observations are gathered on the substance and style of the Edition-Texts as manifest by a range of notated and literary phenomena, from which comparisons are made of the editors’ contrasting intentions and ideals concerning the cognition and sensory expression of music. It also considers how these editorial acts, in their critique, extension and worship of the Composition-Text, can be understood as pursuits of artistic ideals that strive beyond the perceived achievements of the referent compositions and composers, and therefore assert their claim to being a Work in their own right. The study concludes with remarks on the opportunities granted by future technologies for the improved presentation of Edition-Works, and suggestions for how performance may be best informed through a wide study of historical and contemporary editions.