Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
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Cowboy Bebop and Lupin lll: an investigation of the role of brass in anime opening music
This thesis identifies and examines the role of brass instrumentation in the opening songs for the anime, Lupin III and Cowboy Bebop. This examination is conducted through an investigation of the impact of Japanese jazz and nostalgia in Japanese culture together with specific influences of Western television. By providing contextual and historical information through this investigation, and using facets of both Western and Japanese culture, I describe how and why brass instruments are being used in the opening sequences for Lupin III and Cowboy Bebop. Through an examination of these two anime, this thesis provides a framework to understanding the interaction between brass and anime opening music. The findings for this thesis were drawn from books, journal articles, various fan sites, and anime cataloguing systems. I used an interdisciplinary approach engaging with resources spanning the literature on Japanese jazz, nostalgia, Western television, and anime. This thesis discusses how through the two anime series, Japanese jazz has come to reflect a point of nostalgia and resistance for Japanese people. This discussion looks at the presence of jazz cafes, the banning of jazz in Japan from around 1937 as a result of hostilities towards the United States, bebop, and jazz fusion. I examine how these facets of Japanese jazz work together to describe the interaction between how brass is portrayed in the anime opening songs, how brass works together with the visual elements of the openings, and the overall themes that each anime represents.
Curled into the Antihero: An Exploration of the Kinaesthetic and Visual Artefacts of Jaguar Jonze
This thesis examines the visual and kinaesthetic identities of Brisbane-based musician and artist Jaguar Jonze. It analyses the production of her artefacts as continuing the narratives written in the music and lyrics, and suggests they are an emotional and physical form of expression that powers the cultural memory formed of the artist. A comprehensive visual narrative for a musician is powerful when planned in alignment with the music, creating a multifaceted, multi-platform engagement and identity for the musician that extends beyond a sonic language. Drawing on sensory ethnography, social and cultural studies, psychoanalysis and popular music studies, I argue that Jaguar Jonze is a significant example of a multisensorial design culture and musical identity. Performing myths and folklore, utilising recurring colours, themes and bodily movements, this thesis reads the visual artefacts and movements of Jaguar Jonze as a whole with the music. This thesis contributes to the limited research on the creative practices of emerging contemporary Australian musicians and the merging of their artistic forms in the post-digital music industry.
Creative Collaboration in Music: An Exploration of the Oboe in Australian Contemporary Repertoire
Collaboration in music is not a new concept in the modern artistic world. However, it is rapidly becoming an area of interest that is worthy of further research, especially in regards to performer-composer collaboration. There are limited resources in existence that examine the creative process involved in writing new works for the oboe from the point of commission to performance. This research project aims to explore collaboration by delving into the interrelationship between commissioner, performer and composer and highlights the creative process necessary to bring new Australian works for the oboe into existence. Three contrasting Australian contemporary oboe works composed since 1980 were selected as the central focus for this research project. The performers and composers of each work were interviewed over a period of three months in order to gain a deeper understanding of the creative process involved. The three collaborations are compared and contrasted throughout this thesis. Further, performances of these works feature in the concert recital which forms the performance-as-research component of my Masters project. This thesis demonstrates the link between meaningful collaboration during the creative process, and how this positively impacts the compositional writing and therefore the outcome of the work. Specifically, the project exposes the role that collaboration plays in the creation of new Australian works for oboe. The findings of this research contribute to the body of academic literature on performer-composer collaboration, and paves the way for further research in this area into the future.
Artur Schnabel’s Interpretation of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C Major, Opus 53, ‘Waldstein’: An Analysis of Selected Writings, Editions, and Recordings
The Austrian-born pianist Artur Schnabel (1882 - 1951) is celebrated as an interpreter of Beethoven, having not only performed and recorded all thirty-two piano sonatas, but also publishing his own detailed edition. Claude Frank (1925 - 2014) was the only pupil of Schnabel to also record the entire cycle. Furthermore, Ian Hobson (1952 -) became the only former student of Frank to also complete this project. This thesis examines Schnabel’s edition of Sonata Opus 53 in C Major ‘Waldstein’ and compares and contrasts details of three pianists’ interpretive ideas to one another. Particular focus is given to pedal and tempo choices. The analysis displays a wide range of difference in these areas. Schnabel himself discouraged the use of his own edition and the results of the thesis show that he made many alterations to his own written advice when actually recording this work. Frank and Hobson’s recordings reveal additional parting of interpretation in multiple examples. In addition to the analysis of the edition and recordings, a literature review of other pertinent related sources will be provided. Some interpretive elements related to articulations, fingerings, and performance practice proved impossible to reach conclusions without video footage which would have displayed the pianists’ hands. Those examples are also detailed. This analysis can be a resource and guide for those wanting greater understanding into the interpretation of ‘Waldstein’, as well as the pianistic traditions of Beethoven playing.
Helen Gifford’s Fable (1967) for solo harp: A multivalent analysis
My research presents performance and recordings of solo harp compositions by Australian composers. The following composers are included in my performance portfolio: Eve Duncan, Jennifer Fowler, Helen Gifford, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Alicia Grant, Miriam Hyde, Elena Kats-Chernin, and Johanna Selleck. There are three components to my research, the written dissertation, the performance portfolio, and a critical edition for publication. The focus of the written component of my portfolio is a comprehensive critical and analytical study of Helen Gifford’s "Fable," a significant work in the repertoire of Australian harp music that has not been studied before. I document Gifford’s compositional process in the creation of the harp solo and reveal her use of Walter Piston’s "Orchestration" as a guide. Study and performances of "Fable" have additionally created an original performance analysis that fuses Carlos Salzedo’s Instrumental Esthetics, and Rudolf Steiner’s eurythmy. A 60-minute audio recording of harp solos by eight Australian composers, including a new work I commissioned from Alicia Grant makes up my performance portfolio. Two of the compositions, have accompanying video recording (a total of 20-minutes), "Threaded Stars 2" (2006) by Jennifer Fowler and "Three pieces" (2017) by Alicia Grant. Two world-premiere public performances (and recording) of works for solo harp by Australian composers were also given: "Threaded Stars 2" (2006) by Jennifer Fowler, July 17, 2016, Brighton Town Hall, Brighton, VIC; and "Three Pieces" for harp (2017) by Alicia Grant, June 8, 2017, The Chapel, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, Bunbury, WA. A further research outcome includes the creation of a new, annotated critical edition of Fable for publication. This undertaking has been supported by interviews and workshops with Gifford.
Beyond barriers: Creating a space for deeper connection between individuals from diverse religious traditions through a dialogic group music therapy process
This project has emerged in response to a community need to create further platforms for interfaith dialogue in Bendigo, a regional city in Victoria, Australia. Community tensions about a new mosque highlighted a need to build stronger relationships amongst the interfaith and wider community. These tensions were at odds with my experiences of creating musical spaces for the expression and exploration of diverse spiritual and religious identity as a music therapist at the local hospital. In these spaces, listening and respect mattered. My close proximity to people with diverse religious perspectives helped me to be more aware of diverse others in the community and of the current tensions. I wanted to see how music could help. An ethnographic approach captured the journey from the institutional context out into the community to engage in a community-based research project, a collaboration with the interfaith community in Bendigo. A cyclic, emergent action research process evolved into a series of focus groups where individual lived experiences of religion and religious rituals were shared, using music as a focus and a support for communication. Eleven collaborators from six different religious traditions in Bendigo came together to take part in a dialogic group music therapy process – musical presentation (Amir, 2012). This process offers a model for listening and engaging in a group. From this process, music playlists, drawings, focus group dialogue and phone interview feedback were generated. This material revealed the strong sense of connection that collaborators felt with others in the group and their enjoyment of coming together to share diverse faith identities in this creative space. The process also highlighted that the vulnerability and challenges that come from engaging in creative processes were valuable and brought new perspectives and growth. The vitality of music as a mode of communication, through which identity, feelings, memory and culture can be explored was highlighted. Collaborators commented on the depth of the experience and the connection to others within a short space of time. Despite the different associations collaborators each had with music, they saw it as helpful in communicating religious identity. Music supported the group to remove some of the usual barriers that existed between them in this new creative space. One of the key statements developed through collaborator feedback was that “This process has the potential to increase understanding, knowledge, and connection in our community”. The project highlights the importance of creating spaces for the exploration and sharing of diverse religious identity. Possibilities for music therapists as advocates, negotiators and community-builders in these kinds of processes are also raised. Engaging in a dialogic group music process highlighted a form of ‘attunement’ between collaborators that related to musical concepts and processes. Music’s capacity to re-conceptualise broader processes and relationships was also highlighted through connecting this project to the concept of ‘community as a harmonic landscape’, as a way of sharing the project with the wider community. Collaborators felt that the process they experienced could act as a ‘stepping stone’ into further creative community action.
“Biographical Milestones”: Interpreting Sixty Years of Larry Sitsky’s Stylistic Evolution in Australia (1959–2019) Through a Comparative Analysis of His Solo Flute Works
This thesis interprets the stylistic evolution of Australian composer, Larry Sitsky, by categorising his compositions (1959–2019) into five distinctive ‘periods’. An analysis of Sitsky’s six solo flute works composed between 1959 and 2019 provides a framework for this examination. The near-equidistant placement of the solo flute works within Sitsky’s compositional timeline renders them useful milestones from which to analyse his creative evolution. The underpinning research question asks what identifies the stylistic characteristics of Larry Sitsky’s works across his compositional evolution, as seen through the prism of his six works for solo flute? This research draws upon historical and descriptive musicological methodologies and uses case studies and analysis as the main tools. The stylistic periods are identified through an analysis of the distinguishing compositional influences, devices, and styles used in Sitsky’s compositions at various stages in his career and explores how these characteristics were influenced by extramusical stimuli and contemporaneous compositional developments. Sitsky’s compositional evolution reveals a process of constant and conscious transformation across five periods. First, Sitsky’s “Early Mature Period”, dating from 1959 to 1962, is characterised by his efforts to embrace a more modern idiom in his earliest mature compositions. Second, the “Modernist Period” from 1963–1969 exhibits his exploration of Modernist compositional techniques such as serialism, aleatoricism, and musique concrete. The composer’s adoption of Expressionism and engagement with Asian and mystic stimuli is observable in the “Mystic Expressionism Period” which dates from 1970–1982. Sitsky’s fourth period, the “Armenian Period” traverses the years 1983–1986 and includes a series of works for solo instruments inspired by Armenian folk-music. Fifth, the “Late Mature Period” reveals a neo-romantic though eclectic synthesis of earlier compositional experiments from the years 1987–2019. By exhibiting the characteristics of the five chronological periods, Sitsky’s flute works embody a microcosm of his compositional oeuvre. This thesis also identifies distinctive stylistic qualities that contribute to a ‘Sitskian’ aesthetic, such as: an Expressionistic character, chant topics and portamento; chromatic or bitonal ‘smudging’; irregular rhythms and polymetre; mosaic and episodic forms or improvisatory structures; small recurring chromatic cells; decorative fioritura; the portrayal of a musical progression from one ‘state’ to another; and, the use of non-programmatic extramusical springboards inspired by mystical or mythological sources. By drawing upon an historical examination of Sitsky’s compositional trajectory and artistic context in Australia from the late 1950s until 2019, this thesis situates Sitsky’s compositional periods in relation to several sociocultural developments. While existing scholarship on this composer has explored aspects of his compositional language, none provide a detailed explanation or contextual overview of the compositional shifts. This thesis addresses a scholarly lacuna by clearly identifying the characteristics and context of Sitsky’s stylistic evolution. It also addresses a gap in scholarly engagement with Australian flute music. By connecting the musical analysis to related historical and social aspects, this thesis offers a many-dimensioned illumination of an aspect of this era of art music composition in Australia.
An Analysis of Elisabeth Lutyens's The Valley of Hatsu-Se
This dissertation is a musical analysis of Elisabeth Lutyens’s The Valley of Hatsu-Se (1965), a setting of ancient Japanese poems for soprano and chamber ensemble. The first part of the dissertation examines the serial language of the work. This includes the intervallic structure and segmentation of the row, textural use of rows, links between rows and serial ‘anomalies.’ The serial analysis concludes with a brief comparison to the mature serial languages of Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, as well as to Luigi Dallapiccola, who has a similarly lyrical approach to serialism. The next part of the dissertation addresses non-serial elements, especially exploring the variety of contrasting textures. It focusses on textural devices, such as counterpoint and ostinato, as well as the transformation of motifs and voice-leading. There is also a brief discussion of potential Japanese influences on the work. This dissertation aims to facilitate a greater understanding of the serial language and the array of distinctive textures to enhance an appreciation of The Valley of Hatsu-Se, and bring increased awareness to the music of Elisabeth Lutyens.
The “Work” of Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato through the Van Veen Recordings
Canto Ostinato for keyboard instruments (1973-79) is the best-known piece of Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012). The first work of his final compositional period, it advocates indeterminacy in performance, leaving performers to decide on dynamics, articulation, pedalling, instrumentation, and the number of repetitions of most of its 106 sections. Canto Ostinato’s aleatoric nature is investigated in relation to the traditional connotations of a “work,” as highlighted by Lydia Goehr. Georgina Born’s notion of a “provisional” type of work and Peter Elsdon’s classification of a work as the total of its realisations are posited as alternative definitions. An examination of Canto as a “work” would be incomplete without an analysis of the piece’s relationships to its composer, period of conception, performers, realisations, and audiences, and the relationships and contradictions between these aspects. This thesis investigates Canto in relation to several of its precedents in experimental music, such as improvisational music, minimalism, and indeterminacy. Several of ten Holt’s stated beliefs are investigated in relation to the score of Canto, such as the spiritual importance he accorded to the concept of tonality; the special interaction between the performers; the idea of each work developing on its own; and the notion of an “ideal performance” of an indeterminate piece. This thesis also examines the seven duo recordings from 1996 to 2013 of husband-and-wife piano duo Sandra and Jeroen van Veen, two of ten Holt’s most prolific advocates. The analyses indicate that ten Holt’s apparent praise for their February 2008 recording was an impetus for the duo in using similar approaches in subsequent recordings. In these recordings, a number of sections of Canto are highly structured via part omissions, specific amounts of repetition, additional repeats, and the employment of the additive process. A wide range of topics are discussed, such as notion of authorial control versus performer preferences, a more collaborative composer-performer relationship, and the issues surrounding the van Veens’ semi-determinate realisations of Canto, such as audience perception and practical considerations in live performances. This thesis uncovers the complex associations between composers, performers, and other aspects in this consideration of Canto Ostinato as a “work.”
Echoes of the gothic in early twentieth-century spanish music
This thesis explores traces of the Gothic in music and related artforms concerning Spain in the early twentieth century, drawing together a number of case studies with varied proximity to Manuel de Falla and his artistic milieu. A range of Gothic perspectives are applied to a series of musical works, repertories, constructions of race, modes of performance and stage personae, and this examination is preceded by an overview of Gothic elements in their nineteenth-century precursors. The connection between Granada’s Alhambra and the Gothic is based not only on architectural style, but also nocturnal and supernatural themes that can be traced back to the writings of Washington Irving. The idea of Alhambrism and Romantic impressions of the Spanish Gypsy, both of which are associated with the magical, primitive, mystic and nocturnal elements of the Gothic, are also related to constructions of flamenco and cante jondo. The Romantic idea of the Spanish gypsy evolved into primitivism, and attitudes that considered their culture archaic can be placed in a Gothic frame. Flamenco and the notion of duende can also be placed in this frame, and this idea is explored through the poetry and writings of Federico Garcia Lorca and in his interaction with Falla in conceiving the Cante jondo competition of 1922. The rediscovery of Spanish painters Francisco de Goya and El Greco around 1900 was also in part linked with Gothic attributes. The performer Raquel Meller adopted a Goyesque visual style in her singing career, but was characterised as a ‘vamp’ when she became a movie star, notably in the 1926 silent film Carmen, in which she develops the idea of the Romantic gypsy; both phases are interpreted through the Gothic lens. Post-World War I ballets such as The Three-Cornered Hat and El Greco ballet were inspired by these artists respectively, and their Gothic elements were heightened in their modernist recasting and evocation by Pablo Picasso, Falla and other musicians, choreographers and artists. The thesis returns to the idea of Granada and concludes with a consideration of two compositions rich in Gothic allusions, from the arabesque and the nocturnal in Claude Debussy’s ‘La soiree dans Grenade’ to medieval architecture and religious practices in Falla’s Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Violin and Cello.
Exploring Experiences of Chaos as a Resource Within Short-Term Music Therapy Groups With Young South Africans Who Have Committed Offences
This thesis presents a theoretical argument and practical possibilities for engaging with chaos as a resource in short-term music therapy groups with young people, based on my work with young South Africans who have committed offences. Chaotic experiences of confusion, destructiveness and disintegration I experienced with groups of young people were regularly accentuated through musicking and left me feeling despondent. Many therapists anecdotally report that the chaotic nature of groups with adolescents is challenging, yet this has rarely been explored in the music therapy literature. Authors who have described chaotic experiences with groups predominantly considered that these experiences required minimisation, modification or resolution. In my work I experienced moments where the chaos in groups was a necessary expression of young people’s lives, reflecting the chaos of a country struggling with racism, inequality and violence. It did not feel appropriate to attempt to resolve or minimise this chaos. In the first part of my research, I explored how a music therapist could understand chaos as a resource in short-term music therapy groups with young South Africans attending a diversion programme for committing sexual offences. I utilised crystallisation, drawing from different research methods to make meaning of my field notes documenting my work in this context over time. My analysis suggested that chaotic experiences sometimes preceded group transformation and were interconnected with moments of order required for group formation. This aligned with a paradoxical approach to group work explicated primarily in literature published within the fields of drama therapy, psychoanalysis and organisational studies. I integrated this literature with my research to propose that chaotic experiences could be welcomed into music therapy groups and harnessed to support young people’s engagement with the paradoxes of creativity and destructiveness. In this way, chaos could support young people to recreate their lives within complex contexts. In the second part of my research, I expanded on the practical applications of a paradoxical approach to music therapy practice. I explored how a music therapist and group members could engage with chaos as a resource, together with members of two short-term music therapy groups with young South Africans referred to diversion programmes for committing drug-related or general offences. I drew upon methods from constructivist grounded theory to analyse video material, group member feedback and my session notes. I presented my findings in the form of a group matrix. The matrix illustrated how engaging with chaos as a resource both freed and pressured each group member to explore group activities, musicking and relationships through a unique variety of active and observational, integrative and disintegrative styles. Those focused on participating in and opposing group activities tried on roles that might influence their engagement in their communities beyond the group. Group members focused on musicking embodied personal and social expressions through dissonant and resonant, tentative and versatile music creations. The communicative nature of musical expressions supported some group members to connect and conflict as they recreated their identity in relationship to others. Group members who remained static in their group interactions appeared to struggle to access the transformative potential of chaotic experiences. My role as the music therapist was to accompany the movement of group members across the landscape of possibilities I observed in the matrix. I provided a holding environment (offering a safe space and waiting before intervening); resourced group members (offering support and challenge); intervened (taking a directive lead or initiating chaos); or co-explored through partnering or witnessing the group. The theory developed through this research illuminates and legitimises a paradoxical approach to group music therapy theory and practice with young people. The matrix serves as a tool that may support music therapists to maximise possibilities for engaging with chaos as a resource.