Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 298
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 palate 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.
Tiberiu Brediceanu's Doine şi cântece poporale româneşti and folk-inspired art song
During the twentieth century, ethnomusicologist and composer, Tiberiu Brediceanu (1877 – 1968) was at the forefront of the development of the Romanian national school of music. Brediceanu created one of the largest collections of Romanian folksongs, assembling over two thousand melodies. In his collection Doine si cantece poporale romanesti (Doinas and other Romanian Folksongs, 1927), Brediceanu set traditional folksongs in the style of lieder, arranging eighty folksongs for voice and piano. Doine si cantece poporale romanesti is tailored to the classically cultivated voice and is one of the largest collections of Romanian art songs. The purpose of my research is to provide an interpretative guide for twenty-nine selected pieces from Brediceanu’s collection, with particular relevance for English-speaking performers. The songs were chosen to represent a range of genres, dramatic atmospheres and time periods (Brediceanu gathered the songs in Doine si cantece poporale romanesti over more than thirty years). This thesis comprises two parts: a folio of recordings constituting 75% of the thesis; and a dissertation constituting 25% of the thesis. The folio includes recordings of twenty-nine songs from Brediceanu’s Doine si cantece poporale romanesti, as well as other works by Brediceanu and his Romanian contemporaries. A context for these works is provided through further recordings of European folk-based art songs of the 19th and 20th centuries. The dissertation provides an introduction to Tiberiu Brediceanu and Romanian folk music, then explores the interpretation of each of the twenty-nine songs selected from Doine si cantece poporale romanesti, considering aspects of interpretation based upon Romanian folk-practices. This section also includes poetic translations and phonetic transliterations of each song followed by a pronunciation guide for non-Romanian singers.
Folio of Compositions
A Folio of Compositions for the Master of Music (Composition), by Chris Pickering, completed between 2018-2020. List of compositions: 1. The Straightened Arrow - For Orchestra (11:49) 2. Ceiling of Clouds - For Alto Saxophone, Acoustic Guitar, and Harmonium (5:30) 3. Sous Le Tourbillon - Suite for Piano (24:52) 4. Splinters of Diamond Light - For Orchestra (11:26) 5. Lesser Heroes - For Flugelhorn/Trumpet in C, Trombone, and Electric Guitar (8:31) The initial creative concept behind the folio was to investigate how the composer’s background as a songwriter with a contemporary pop influence could be explored within the expanded palette of contemporary classical composition techniques. The intention in undertaking larger-scale and more adventurous compositions was to explore how the composer’s sense of form and structure through pop songwriting – and the prominence of melody – could be applied within the extended durations and timbral textures of writing for larger groups, in more nuanced pieces of chamber music, and the challenges in additionally mastering scoring and orchestration techniques for various instruments.
Musico-relational competencies: Examining the convergence of musical and relational competencies in improvisational group music therapy for people with borderline personality disorder
This thesis details an emergent, qualitative study on music therapy process resulting in the new concept of musico-relational competence. The project began with an exploration of music processes in the context of outpatient adult psychiatry. Seven participants, a cofacilitator and a music therapist (also the researcher) took part in an improvisationally based group music therapy program over eight weeks. All sessions were recorded on video and analysed to explore how music process influenced therapeutic process. The emergent design allowed for discovery and adjustments along the way. This led to taking an ethnographic and ethnomusicological approach to the analysis of the video data (including music analysis), focusing on the meaning making process of participants in the study. There are a few studies suggesting that music therapy is of benefit to people who experience Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) (Hannibal, 2014; Plitt, 2014; Schmidt, 2002; Strehlow & Lindner, 2015), yet very little written on music process, or music therapy with groups of people who live with BPD. Therefore, this study utilised an emergent methodology with the aim of beginning to understand music therapy processes in this context. Findings from this study are presented as five perspectives on musical competence orientation. They include Musical Structure, Musical Language Competencies, Musical Interaction Competencies, Knowledge and Experience of Group Improvisation, and Changes in Feeling States that Accompany Improvisation. A new theory on competency orientation was developed to explain the phenomena examined in this study complemented by the existing theories of group process (Tuckman, 1965; Yalom, 2005), alliance rupture and repair (Safran, Crocker, McMain, & Murray, 1990; Safran & Kraus, 2014) and implicit relational knowing (Bruschweiler-Stern et al., 2010; Trondalen, 2016). The main finding that emerged from the analysis were the musico-relational competency orientation of participants and the influence of this orientation on relational cycles in group improvisation. The relational cycle in improvisational music therapy is enacted via musical connection, disconnection and reconnection as experienced in musical ‘limbo’ periods. Over time, via repeated experience and changing competency orientation, negative emotionality experienced by participants decreased, contributing to therapeutic process in sessions. The main therapeutic process enacted was tolerating the dynamics of implicit relational knowing during group improvisation. The implications of this finding are relevant to music therapists practicing group music therapy in adult psychiatry, and potentially in other contexts. The importance of the musico-relational competency orientation, in addition to working with limbo phases of improvisation can influence program design, evaluation and interpretation of music therapy process. With further investigation of this phenomena, I hope that group methodologies utilising these principles will become more widely practiced in music therapy.
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.