Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 288
The Pipa and Zheng Topics in Chinese Solo Piano Works during the Twentieth Century (1915-1999)
This thesis focuses on discussing two important topics, pipa and zheng, in Chinese solo piano works from 1915 to 1999. During the twentieth century, Chinese composers endeavoured to combine Western composing techniques with elements taken from Chinese traditional musics. It is through their successive efforts that we see the emergence and development of the pipa and zheng topics in music for the piano. Based on the research methods of topic theory and cultural identity, this thesis analyses a number of solo piano works during 1915-99 and establishes a preliminary lexicon of the pipa and zheng topics.
Before Obsolescence: Cultural Roles of Combination Keyboards in Europe, 1490-1892
Combination keyboards are hybrid musical instruments incorporating two or more autonomous components within a single object. These component instruments may be played separately or coupled from a keyboard interface. Such instruments include claviorgans (pipe and plucked-strings combinations), bowed keyboards, mother-and-child virginals, and vis-a-vis keyboards. Documentary evidence from the period ca. 1490-1750 indicates that this now seldom-heard species of keyboard instrument enjoyed a position of relative popularity amongst Europe's ruling classes being representative of both the esteemed social status of their owners, as well as that of mechanical and creative experimentation. From the mid-eighteenth century through to the end of the nineteenth century combination keyboards were continually 'reinvented' and sporadic (and generally unsuccessful) attempts were made to commodify them throughout the nineteenth century. This thesis addresses the disparity between the marginalised representation of combination keyboards in our present-day historiography of early music, and their prevalence throughout Europe during the late fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. In light of a diminutive number of extant instruments and an absence of known repertoire specifically for combination keyboards this research seeks to determine the broader historical cultural roles embodied by these instruments. Approaching the approximately four-hundred-year history of combination keyboards in Europe in a chronological fashion, this study investigates their status as objects of cultural capital from a critical organological perspective, engaging with historical sources and contemporary analyses of extant instruments in a case study format. Each case study presented in this thesis examines combination keyboards as they existed in their historical contexts, and investigates the impact of changing socio-political factors on the perceptions of these instruments' cultural roles.
Folio of Original Compositions 2012-2016 and a Dissertation entitled: Elements of Chinese philosophy and poetry as compositional inspiration
This submission includes a folio of original compositions fo 90–120 minutes in length. This is accompanied by a dissertation (exegesis) illuminating the folio works in technical, philosophical and aesthetic ways. A recurring and significant thread appearing within my compositions since I began composing is the inspiration I have drawn from aspects of Chinese philosophy and poetry. This inspiration has never been exclusive, however I have consistently returned to these sources to find ideas to express in my music. This thesis examines how this inspiration has guided my work and the broader influence and philosophy behind the creation, performance and interpretation of my music.
Enhancing music performance self-efficacy through psychological skills training
The psychological health of the performer is important to achieving performance success. Determining effective means of enabling performers to manage performance issues and enhance their musical endeavours is therefore of utmost importance. Whilst there has been a strong focus in this area within higher education there is still more to be achieved in the training of younger musicians. Self-efficacy is a strong predictor of achievement and a key factor in well-being. Yet, few interventions have targeted this construct or been designed for adolescent students. Music educators are ideally placed to enhance self-efficacy within music lessons. An intervention model was constructed using the four sources of efficacy information as a conceptual framework. A survey of 236 Australian music educators provided an understanding of how teachers intuitively develop performance self-efficacy. Qualitative analyses, coded to the four sources (mastery experiences, verbal persuasion, vicarious experience, and physiological and affective states), revealed that teachers were most likely to advise more performing and employ verbal persuasion. Pedagogical recommendations for fostering self-efficacy were outlined, further informing the intervention model. A 14-week blended learning, teacher-guided program was designed, embedding skill development into practice and lessons. It encouraged training in standard psychological performance competencies (arousal regulation, imagery, attentional control, cognitive restructuring, pre-performance routines) with an additional focus on performance simulation and self-evaluation. A pilot study (n= 8) supported the utility of this approach on performance self-efficacy, multidimensional anxiety and performance. An amended program incorporating participant feedback was subsequently tested in two main studies within class (intervention n=47; control n=25) and studio (intervention n=24; control n=7) music lessons. Self-efficacy was significantly enhanced in comparison to the controls who completed their normal music curriculum. This was associated with improvements in anxiety, psychological performance skills and self-, teacher- and independently-evaluated music performance. Differential treatment effects were also observed for the two instruction conditions that may be related to sample-specific variables such as teaching environment or age. These results provide preliminary support for the self-efficacy intervention model developed in this study. They also indicate that music educators without specialised psychological training or self-efficacy specific knowledge can influence a range of psychological skills associated with well-being and performance, enabling preventative measures to be implemented at a young age within the adolescent music curriculum. This program provides an accessible and practical method for delivering key skills associated with success and well-being.
How does a critical analysis of the literature inform recommendations for writing about mindfulness in music therapy practice?
Mindfulness Based Therapies have become widespread in clinical work, but so far the literature on integrating mindfulness into music therapy has been limited. The thesis presents the results of a critical interpretive synthesis (CIS) investigating the use of mindfulness in music therapy. The CIS of eight published articles examines how music therapists describe the use of mindfulness in their clinical work. A critical examination of the literature presented in the CIS finds that the use of mindfulness is described under the categories of mindfulness-based, Buddhist-influenced, or mindfulness, and discusses some of the difficulties in describing music therapy processes in this way. Based on the findings from the CIS, and drawing on research from the mindfulness literature as well as my experience as a mindfulness teacher, practising Buddhist, and registered music therapist, the thesis then offers recommendations for music therapists who are interested in using mindfulness-influenced practices in their clinical work and research. The word ‘mindfulness’ has become widespread, and can describe almost anything from relaxation to in-depth therapeutic work to the path to spiritual enlightenment. This broad use of the term can lead to a lack of clarity in how the use of mindfulness is described. The thesis will explore the use of language, including the challenges of adapting concepts from other cultures and belief systems. Research into the adverse effects of meditation is discussed, and the thesis argues that due to these possible harmful effects, music therapists using mindfulness in their work might consider additional training, ensuring they understand the theoretical basis, the benefits and the contra-indications of mindfulness-based therapies. There are also indications in the current literature on mindfulness and music therapy that music therapy processes can at times cultivate mindful states in both therapist and client. This could be an exciting area for further research, potentially leading to the development of a new theoretical model of mindfulness arising from within the creative processes of music therapy.
Vocal Performance and Affective Delivery in the Music of Heinrich Schütz
Seventeenth century German composer Heinrich Schuetz is renowned for his skill in aligning music and text and for adopting the new Italian style that had emerged in the early part of the seventeenth century. Schuetz’s works demonstrate a strong affective component that is often acknowledged in the musicological literature, and yet remains elusive in the performance of his works. This thesis brings together the fields of musicology, performance practice research and vocal performance to examine Schuetz’s vocal works and their performance practices. Drawing on the historical background to highlight the changes in musical thought that led to the newer, more affective style of music in the seventeenth century, this thesis asserts that the affective components in Schuetz’s music place demands on performers to approach his music in ways that reflect those affective intentions. This necessitates a practical exploration based initially on an understanding of how rhetoric and affective delivery pervaded musical and wider culture of the seventeenth century and how they were manifested in the works of Schuetz. The practical realisation of these ideas is contained in an associated performance portfolio which is analysed in the final part of the thesis. It is in the translation that occurs between the written score and the music in its sonic form that the notion of affective delivery and performance can be seen to coalesce, and the work in this thesis reveals a style of performance with the aim of matching the affective intentions of the composer’s works themselves.
Folio of works
Master of Music Composition - Folio of Compositions Six original compositions, written from 2016 to 2019, comprising of: - 'On the Inside' for flute, clarinet, cello, and piano. Recording duration of 9 minutes 34 seconds - 'Ode to Damascus' for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. Recording duration of 9 minutes 15 seconds - 'The Fate of Phaethon' for soprano, horn, and string quartet. Recording duration of 15 minutes 51 seconds - 'Echo' for soprano and horn. Video recording duration of 4 minutes three seconds - 'Phosphorus' for solo percussion. Video recording duration of 10 minutes 26 seconds - 'Ignition' for orchestra. Recording duration of 9 minutes 47 seconds
From resistance to incorporation: how Kendrick Lamar turned from Black saviour to Black salesman
Rapper Kendrick Lamar came to prominence with his 2015 album, To Pimp A Butterfly, an album built upon a platform of political resistance and Black liberation. However, on his 2017 album, DAMN., we see him move away from this political standpoint and cater to a mainstream audience. This thesis examines how this shift manifests and how Black artists fall victim to the process of incorporation by the mainstream culture industry. As racial symbolism is commodified and consumed by mainstream audiences, who may ignore or misread the political history of hip hop and Black resistance, how can Black identities remain authentic? How can racial minorities attain liberation from white supremacy?
Changing landscapes and soundscapes: the guitar in 1960s film Westerns
The Western film genre has long served as a staple of Hollywood filmmaking and has thus been characterised, at least in its early forms, as a uniquely American film genre. The Western is immediately recognisable from its visual iconography: the cowboy, horses, Colt and Smith and Wesson revolvers, train robberies, outlaws, Indians, Mexicans, shoot-outs, gold shipments, brothels, and bars. Equally important to its characterisation is the music that accompanies these visuals, both in diegesis and underscore. From the nineteenth century onwards, the guitar has been connected with notions of the ‘frontiersman’ and ‘cowboy’ and has thus developed a close association with the Western in films from the twentieth century. During the 1960s the Western genre underwent its most dramatic transformation. In response to growing sentiments in popular culture that the Western was reinforcing a false narrative of American frontier history the genre begins to shift in semantic and syntactic content. As such this thesis focuses specifically on the representations of the guitar in the Western during this period. Beginning with psychological Westerns that emerge from Hollywood in the late 1950s, the guitar is inextricably connected with notions of American and Hispano-American identities. Moving into the 1960s we begin to see a distinct revisionism in Hollywood and international filmmaking and the guitar adopts a more nuanced position. The films of Sergio Leone, with music composed by Ennio Morricone, present a ‘modernised’ and popular usage of the electric guitar, as well as presenting contemporary evocations of acoustic Spanish classical guitar repertoire. Finally, the films of Sam Peckinpah utilise the guitar in a definitely revisionist framework. The guitar is shown to be a folkloric marker for Mexican identity as well as a medium for the contemporary and popular song-based score.
The use of irrational time signatures in Thomas Adès’ works
A host of institutions, the Western art world, and the musicological community at large engage in a continual discourse to explore, test, and invent new concrete avenues to record and accurately communicate artistic expression. Although the language of music has undergone considerable developments in melodic and harmonic theories and practices over the past few centuries, mainstream musicological dialogue has yet to focus on rhythmic and (particularly) metrical advancement. Few composers have tested the bounds of musical metre, and fewer still have done so with as much acclaim as British composer Thomas Adès. Known as a prolific triple-threat (composer, pianist, and conductor), Adès has continued to make art music accessible while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of “New Music”. One compositional technique that has set his oeuvre apart is his recurrent application of irrational time signatures. Despite their frequent use of irrational time signatures, Adès’ works remain popular with performers and audiences alike. It is therefore hypothesised that the convention is used primarily to ease Adès’ communication of complex rhythmic ideas to the performer, to facilitate the process of learning and performing his works without hindering audible intelligibility. Through a thorough investigation and examination of Adès’ compositional output to date, it is the aim of this dissertation to ascertain some of the purposes of irrational time signatures. It is hoped that this will aid future composers’ apprehension and enrich performers’ interpretation of the convention.
Orpheus Unleashed: Creative Interpretations and Renditions of Henry Purcell’s Secular Songs
This practice-led study contributes to interdisciplinary Purcell scholarship with an investigation of the composer’s secular songs for solo voice through the interpretative frameworks of historically informed performance practice and postmodern gender theory. I conduct thorough analyses of pieces in order to analyse and amplify multivalent song texts as well as scrutinise performance choices that have arisen from the interpretation of Purcell’s notation. Through critical self-reflection, I highlight my stylistic influences and text-led treatment of Restoration continuo songs amid a broad vocal repertoire in the portfolio featuring performances spanning the Renaissance to contemporary Australian. Close readings of interpretative connections between poetry and notation serve as the rationale behind my analyses and creative portfolio, culminating in what I perceive as comprehensive and meaningful engagement with this song collection in both theoretical and performative realms. While my vocal craft is grounded in historical enquiry, I also introduce alternative readings of historical issues through consultation with both secondary literature and late seventeenth-century sociocultural discourses to problematise narrative threads and character actions. The more imaginative analyses form associations between scores and broader conceptual topics as the basis for novel—even ‘rebellious’—re-interpretations of poetic themes. Such readings stem from my own practice and thinking as a musician. Purcell’s domestic songs are typically overshadowed by widespread scholarly interest in the composer’s larger theatrical works. This study, therefore, extends and refines the interdisciplinary work featured in tercentennial research associated with Purcell and re-assesses the repertoire through a new categorisation of poetic themes. I seek to assist vocalists in their navigation of this collection by documenting my readings through an autoethnographic lens and call attention to the interpretative freedoms inherent in Purcell’s under-prescriptive notation. From the perspective of a singer, these are the creative interpretations that I ‘unleash’ upon the secular solo songs.