Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses
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Intertextuality Étude: A Study of Connections between Felix Blumenfeld’s Piano Études Op. 3 No. 1, Op. 4, and Op. 14 and the Piano Music of Frédéric Chopin
The piano music of Felix Mikhailovich Blumenfeld (1863–1931), a key figure of the St Petersburg music scene during the latter half of the nineteenth century, is mostly unfamiliar to performers today. Despite his multi-faceted artistic ingenuity as a pianist, composer, teacher and conductor, Blumenfeld’s legacy has been neglected over the course of time. While many scholarly and non-scholarly sources have acknowledged a connection between Chopin’s music and Blumenfeld’s etudes, there are limited studies substantiating this notion. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of research surrounding the piano etude genre and Chopin’s music, but no existing studies on Blumenfeld’s piano etudes. This thesis therefore aims to contribute to the available range of scholarly literature, by analysing intertextuality between the piano writing of Blumenfeld and Chopin, using three of Blumenfeld’s etudes and a selection of miniatures by Chopin as case studies. In doing so, it aims to promote awareness of Blumenfeld’s piano etudes as valid contributions to modern concert repertory and the technical development of pianists.
Exploring the possibilities of dance movement therapy with women in the criminal justice system and their supporting communities
My PhD project sought to explore the possible ways in which dance movement therapy (DMT) might be used by women in the criminal justice system for health and wellbeing purposes. My thesis presents findings from a participatory, feminist-informed research study that was based in the regional city of Geelong, Australia. As part of this research, I invited two professional women from the Department of Justice - Susan and Alyce - to become “co-researchers” in the study. As co-researchers, Susan and Alyce helped to develop access pathways for criminalised women to participate in the project. Women serving time on community correctional orders were invited to participate in a series of community based, drop-in DMT workshops as part of an emergent research design. The intention was to centre women’s experiences of using DMT to learn more about how individuals might choose to engage in this service in a criminal justice context, and why. The centring of women’s direct experiences in this study aligns with calls for more participatory, women-centred studies that are guided by the lived realities of those directly experiencing criminalisation processes (Carlton & Segrave, 2013). From an activist perspective, this includes acknowledging the social and political contexts in which criminalisation and therapy take place, and challenging dominant norms and assumptions in both criminal justice and DMT (also referred to as dance movement psychotherapy, or DMP). The theoretical influences informing this work draw on a mix of feminisms, including intersectional theory, feminist new materialism, corporeal feminism, and Barad’s (2008) “material-discursive” framework. Also instrumental to my process were theoretical concepts from my previous academic training in cultural anthropology, such as Geertz’s (1973) ethnographic method of “thick description” which I expand on in this thesis from a more ‘embodied’ and ‘embedded’ perspective. The importance of bodily-led approaches to research is therefore central to my thesis, and my doctorial study combines somatic modes of inquiry with more traditional modes of qualitative analysis. Methodologically, my project followed a participatory research design and employed ethnographic methods to document, analyse and communicate my fieldwork experience and the data arising through these interactions. Principles of action research and feminist-informed participatory research are articulated in my thesis, and processes of collaboration are reflexively presented in the form of poems, movement videos and photographs. Challenges and barriers to authentic collaboration are discussed and the ethical, political and moral dimensions of fieldwork are critically examined in this study. Structural and systemic imbalances are critiqued and issues to do with power, privilege and oppression are reflexively worked through as part of the overall knowledge production process. The research findings are based on what I learned from each of the women participating in this study. I explored the following themes as they emerged from the data: fun, fitness and relaxation. These findings are used to voice a rationale for a renewed focus on dancing in DMT/P. A theoretical model, which I refer to as an exercisePLUS+ approach, was developed out of the findings and discussed in my final chapter. This model emphasises the concept of physical fitness/exercise in DMT/P and describes how fitness goals, combined with a phrase-based dance teaching, can provide an alternative framework to that of the dominant psychoanalytical application of DMT/P. Practitioners wishing to work outside of the biomedical mental health treatment model may find this theoretical model useful. My model challenges dualistic notions of healthy/unhealthy and locates the notion of ‘health’ within a broader framework of social equity and inclusion. As such, the theoretical developments presented in my thesis focus more generally on social participation, fitness and wellbeing, yet also include more internal, psychological approaches to DMT. The model includes reference to neurophysiological understandings of trauma, yet problematises the over-reliance on medical discourse in trauma treatment, DMT/P and mental health. An alternative approach is therefore presented with a renewed focus on social equity and inclusivity, community participation, and access to health promoting activities, such as non-institutionalised forms of dance therapy. As well as critiquing the dominance of psychoanalytical frameworks and arguing for a more interdisciplinary focus, I also position my study as a further development of social justice DMT (Cantrick et al., 2018). I argue that DMT/P is a flexible modality which has the capacity to dance across the full spectrum of healthcare: from preventative health, through to acute illness, within rehabilitation contexts, and in alignment with social justice principles. My contribution to knowledge is a critique of dominant models, as well an example of what DMT might achieve outside of the shadows of the biomedical model. My thesis can therefore be read as call to diversify DMT/P theory and practice, including the further development of critical and feminist approaches to therapy. Recommendations for practice and further research include the following: a) the need for continued discourse regarding power and oppression in therapy, specifically in relation to “body politics” in DMT/P (Allegranti, 2011; 2013); b) ongoing critical engagement with Eurocentrism and the legacy of colonialism and imperialism in healthcare, including DMT/P; c) the further development of critical trauma discourse/s in DMT/P which challenge and expand on the existing theories of trauma and the body, and d) a renewed focus on dancing in DMT/P which combines exercise and fitness with a psychosocial approach as per the exercisePLUS+ theories presented in this thesis.
The Musical Activities of Duchess Sophie Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1613–1676) as Reflections of Seventeenth-Century Protestant German Court Life
This thesis aims to demonstrate how an analysis of the musical activities of Duchess Sophie Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lueneburg (1613–1676) can provide insight into both the cultural life of the Wolfenbuettel court in the middle decades of the seventeenth century and the music-making of seventeenth-century German-speaking consorts at Protestant courts. As duchess consort to Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig-Lueneburg (1579–1666), Sophie Elisabeth had a number of duties and responsibilities associated with her social role. This thesis focuses on two of these responsibilities and how Sophie Elisabeth fulfilled them through her musical activities. First, she was responsible for the devotional life of her family, her court, and the wider populace through maintaining a strong sense of her own personal piety, encouraging piety in others, and interceding with God on behalf of the principality. Second, she played an important role in the artistic representation of her husband, August, as a ruler, and the broader representation of his dynasty, the House of Guelph. While the responsibilities of consorts and the musical activities of Sophie Elisabeth have both been studied in recent literature, their interaction has been hitherto neglected, particularly in musicological scholarship. This thesis addresses this lacuna by proposing that Sophie Elisabeth’s musical activities and her social and political role were not mutually exclusive, and that they constantly interacted with each other. This contention has implications for our understanding of the role of consorts at early modern German-speaking Protestant courts and provides a framework for analysing how music-making, of different kinds, contributed to this role.
John Zorn’s dedicatee-oriented and cinematic file card works
This thesis examines the ‘file card’ works of contemporary American composer John Zorn (b. 1953). Zorn’s unique creative method for these works involves the transcribing of quotes, ideas, impressions, or instructions relevant to a chosen dedicatee (or multiple dedicatees) onto file cards (i.e. index cards). Zorn has produced 22 compositions using this process, though this thesis concentrates on a select group that includes the first two file card compositions, Godard (1986) and Spillane (1987), as well as three later, similarly executed and sounding works, Interzone (2010), Dictee (2010), and Liber Novus (2010). These five pieces I have dubbed Ur file card works, given that they include the original file card works plus those that maintain the majority of intrinsic compositional qualities that were established by the originals. In examining the Ur file card works, my thesis concentrates on two key questions. The first asks, ‘what are the relationships between Zorn’s file card works and the figures to whom they are dedicated?’. The second considers the ‘cinematic’ nature of file card compositions – as often declared by Zorn and previous scholars – asking, ‘how can Zorn’s file card works be apprehended in audio-visual, cinematic terms?’ Ur file card works are also exemplars of Zorn’s signature ‘sound block’ style. Consequently, significant consideration is given to an auxiliary question, ‘what aesthetic effects does the sound block style used in certain file card compositions have?’ The six chapters of this thesis each provide a different methodological viewpoint in order to answer these questions. The first chapter gives an overview of the file card compositional process and a history of its development, highlighting some of the distinct features of Ur file card works. This is followed by a hypertextual linking of these five compositions to the life and work of their dedicatees, as well as discourse around them. In the third and fourth chapters an idealised ‘implied’ listener is theorised who hears file card works in a hypertextual and ‘cinematic’ fashion. Zorn’s dedicatees are then used as hermeneutic windows to provide interpretations of Ur file card works. Finally, Zorn’s aesthetics, as discussed throughout the thesis, are compared to the similar aesthetic intentions of his dedicatees.
No Innovation without Imitation: Using group dramatherapy to explore relationships and interpersonal learning processes with adolescents in special education
This thesis details a constructivist grounded theory study that explored relationships and interpersonal learning using group dramatherapy with adolescents in special education. The adolescent participants engaged in both group dramatherapy and a creative interviewing process to reflect upon their experiences and ways of being with, and learning from others. Their reflections give insight into the unique ways that adolescents with intellectual/developmental disabilities seek to establish relational connection and learn from other people, both within the dramatherapy space and wider social contexts. In constructing and reflecting on the research specific attention was given to exploring the use of dramatherapy techniques as accessible research tools, which enabled participants to be more actively engaged as co-contributors in both the research process and the subsequent framing of outcomes. Embedding dramatic techniques into reflective interview practice, and art making into different stages of the data analysis served as inclusive research practices. Incorporation of creative methods aimed to position the adolescent participants as experts of their own therapeutic needs, and consider further dramatherapy’s potential contribution to research conducted alongside people for whom thinking and talking are not key strengths. Within the data collected through semi-structured interviews participants reflected on a common phenomenon; that being their tendency to “copy”. They described consciously copying others as a way to “learn from”, “play with”, “join in with” and feel connected to others. This human tendency to imitate others is linked to dramatherapy’s foundation in “dramatic imitation” and viewed as a potential pathway to support personal growth through imitative learning. Participants reflected on ways to use dramatic practice to extend themselves beyond “straight copying” or high fidelity imitation, to a capacity for imitative flexibility, where “you start by copying and then find a way to make it your own.” The research findings presented within this thesis focus on presenting the words and insights of the participants themselves as the experts of their own relational and learning experiences. Recommendations for future practice and research are discussed in recognition and support of the participants’ own capacity to demonstrate insight into what represents for them meaningful therapeutic goals and encounters.
From Counterpoint to Composition in the Early L'Homme armé Mass
Fifteenth-century music theory seems remote from fifteenth-century composition. Florid polyphony in three or more voices stands in contrast to the rhythmless, note-against-note consonant progressions in two voices found in counterpoint treatises, making it difficult to analyse composed music in terms of the contrapuntal theory of the period. This dissertation proposes a new analytical framework for one form of fifteenth-century composition, the four-voice cantus firmus mass of the 1460s and 1470s. Research of the last twenty years has substantially reshaped our understanding of medieval musical training and practice and by combining this new awareness with tools for digitally-assisted musicology, it becomes possible to test the relationship between the surviving compositions and counterpoint teaching. The opening chapters summarise this research and describe these tools. This summary leads to a method of analysis that allows a prestigious, coherent body of repertoire—the early masses on the L’homme arme cantus firmus—to be measured against the most comprehensive statement of fifteenth-century counterpoint, Johannes Tinctoris’s De arte contrapuncti. Analysis reveals that Tinctoris provides an accurate description of elements of fifteenth-century compositional practice but that his teaching considers only one of several contrapuntal techniques at work within the L’homme arme masses. A comparison of passages with and without cantus firmus permits a description of these other forms of counterpoint, while an awareness of this contrapuntal variety enables an understanding of mass composition as the interaction of distinct contrapuntal techniques based on changing voice-pair relationships. Further analysis based on cadential voice pairs confirms the relationship between counterpoint and composition through the effective elimination of divergences from Tinctoris’s teaching The conclusion presents a general theory of four-voice polyphonic texture as a compound contrapuntal entity. Through its two-level structure, this theory provides an opportunity for the empirical analysis of compositional style and has further potential applications to the problems of source criticism, attribution and reconstruction.
Navigating Kol Isha: Women's Voices in The Australian Jewish Community
Kol Isha is a religious law that states men should not hear women’s singing voices. This law is most often referred to in synagogue, where women do not take on any ritual roles and sit separately from men. Over the past fifty years, new styles of prayer have emerged that attempt to maintain tradition, whilst allowing women to sing and actively take part in ritual. This dissertation examines how Orthodox Jewish women maintain authenticity as Orthodox Jews and feminists whilst negotiating Kol Isha. It interviews seven self-identifying Orthodox Female Jewish Women, who have attended such congregations about how they negotiate secular and sacred values during prayer. Preliminary findings suggest that women negotiate their authenticity by taking part in current ideological conflicts within their communities. Their standpoints are made public through where and how they use their voices within sacred settings.
Delta Goodrem’s musical expression before, during, and after traumatic illness: an interdisciplinary analysis
While scholars of Western art music have begun analysing trauma directly, scholars of popular music have largely focused on what I call ‘indirect analyses’ of trauma through issues of consumerism and identity. Because trauma is at the heart of mainstream media narratives, I contend that scholars should directly research it in popular music. In this dissertation, I examine how popular music can be used to express a personal transformative experience resulting from trauma. I analyse Australian popstar/singer-songwriter Delta Goodrem’s transformative experience as a result of traumatic illness, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in her first three albums Innocent Eyes (2003), Mistaken Identity (2004), and Delta (2007). I employ an interdisciplinary approach using positive psychology’s Post-Traumatic Growth Theory (PTG) as an analytical lens to demonstrate how Goodrem’s transformation reveals issues of resilience, gender, and maturation. I argue that Goodrem’s musical expression in the albums reflects the three main areas of growth found in PTG: self-identity, relationships, and life philosophy. Until this research, no scholar has attempted to use PTG as an analytical framework for analysing trauma in music. This dissertation thus introduces PTG as a new theoretical concept to music studies and contributes to our understanding of how artists employ music to make sense of personal trauma.
Folio of Compositions
The following portfolio of compositions demonstrate the influence of extramusical ideas and materials on my compositional process. The preface to these four works discusses how these extramusical ideas and materials are utilised to generate compositional decisions and musical outcomes.
Carlos Salzedo’s New Harpism: Principles of Idiomatic Harp Composition, Performance and Design
Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961) fundamentally altered the teaching and playing of the harp in the twentieth century. A virtuoso performer, composer, conductor and teacher, he spent most of his life in the United States, having emigrated from France in 1909. However, his contribution to the harp was not limited to his performance activities, pedagogical work and compositions. This study combines traditional musicological research (entailing critical analysis, close reading and archival research) and performance-led research to reveal that behind his work there is an overarching ideological grounding. The thesis is organised into five chapters, with the addition of an introduction and conclusion. Chapter 1 provides a biographical overview of Salzedo’s life, as well as a brief commentary on the historical context of the double-action pedal harp. Chapter 2 presents a literature review and explains the methodological approach of the thesis. Chapter 3 examines the concepts written about by Salzedo in relation to his “new harpism” ideology, particularly the foundation principle of “essential resonance.” Chapter 4 explores the influence of fellow French composers Edgard Varese (1883-1965) and Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985). Chapter 5 considers Salzedo’s “esthetic laws” of harp composition: this entails identifying the idiomatic principles that Salzedo began to use in 1917 and providing a performer-oriented analysis of how these esthetic laws manifest in selected compositions, including unpublished works. The investigation of the esthetic laws and essential resonance reveals compelling insights into Salzedo’s body of work as a whole, unified by these concepts of new harpism. Salzedo’s status in the harp community is such that his method of playing continues to be prevalent to this day, and his compositions are highly popular worldwide. For harpists who follow his technique, this thesis offers an insight into the rationale behind their daily practices. Perhaps of greater significance, however, is the opportunity provided to composers, performers, conductors, musicologists, and harpists of any technical background, to understand the detailed reasoning behind one of the most idiomatic approaches to harp composition, performance and design that has ever been achieved. The thesis is complemented by a recorded performance component featuring Salzedo compositions, many of which are unpublished and have not been performed for over half a century. These two aspects of analysis and performance interact to produce a thorough understanding of his multi-faceted oeuvre.
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.