Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 293
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.
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