Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts - Theses
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Cueca, tradition and innovation: utilising the traditional Bolivian music form of Cueca as a generative tool in jazz based composition and improvisation
The Cueca is an expression of Latin American culture in the forms of dance, poetry and music. This investigation examines the important elements of the Bolivian Cueca, its history, development and geographical journey alongside a creative element of practice-based research arising from an analysis of my first professional recordings of Cueca that explore African-American jazz-based improvisation leading to new compositions. For this purpose, I will undertake an ethnographic and musical analysis of the Bolivian Cueca (structure, rhythm, harmony, melody and improvisation) from the first pioneers and influential composers and interpreters Simeón Roncal (pianist, 1870-1953) and José Lavadenz (mandolinist, 1883-1967). This includes an autethnographic reflection of my relationship with my cultural identity as a composer, performer and son of the Bolivian composer Gilberto Rojas (1916-1983). My intention is to ground the rationale that integrates my later study of jazz-based improvisational studies within the Cueca tradition. I have included a phenomenological contextual analysis of my 2005 recording of “Chuquisaqueñita” in the CD/DVD “Lunar” and findings from my practice-led research which enabled my understanding of the hitherto unconscious elements that I had adopted from the aforementioned composers to then create and spontaneously engage jazz and improvisation techniques within the Cueca. My creative work includes Cuecas that I composed throughout this study, which was inspired by my personal understanding as a Bolivian currently living within a multicultural context in Melbourne, Australia, highlighting the development process of Australian jazz sensibilities alongside the cross cultural notions of agency we encounter as musicians within globalised jazz.
Letters to my father: Yan Wanyoo Peepayan
Yan Wanyoo Peepayan, Letters to my Father, is the written component of Australia’s inaugural Doctorate of Visual and Performing Arts. The dissertation and its accompanying huge collection of creative works narrate Associate Professor Richard Frankland’s deeply personal and poetic story of a life long journey that performs and documents the complexities of First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing. Frankland, a significant holder of Gunditjmara knowledge, is renowned as an artist-warrior: a community leader and educator, songman, musician, filmmaker, poet, playwright and novelist who uses any medium to tell his stories of the painful past, an optimistic present and hopeful tomorrows. This collection showcases both his voice through art and the ways he facilitates the voices of hidden Australia through art, acts that inspire and energise reconciliation and social change. His contributions aim to revitalise First Nations cultural practices and language and combat the ‘poverty of spirit’ that is the legacy of colonisation. His collection of hundreds and poems and songs sing of what was, what is and what can be. The films and plays such as No Way to Forget (1996), Conversations with the Dead (20002) and Walking into the Bigness (2014), stitch a new cultural tapestry for the nation. His stories strive to shape a new national identity, insisting the past is a foundation for all hope. The collection is a statement that art is a tool for cultural capacity building not only for the First Peoples, but for others, for all. It is a dissertation and collection that addresses the dominant culture front on. The shape of the dissertation is original and non-traditional, it does not look like the customary thesis. Like other First Nations scholars around the world, Frankland has insisted on his own unique shape to facilitate his voice, embracing his culture’s oral and performed knowledge systems that are deeply connected to Country. Readers from the dominant culture engaging with this form of First Nations Storywork will find themselves in the contact zone, the space between the coloniser and the colonised, the First People and the settlers. Frankland treads lightly in the space, without apportioning guilt and blame, acknowledging a shared legacy with an invitation over the cultural abyss to places of possibility and hope. Yan Wanyoo Peepayan, is a series of fascinating and generous access points for the non-Indigenous and First Nations readers alike. He uses his art and voice to assist in both navigating the dominant culture and also in assisting the dominant culture to find a place within Australia by embracing First Nations culture.
Hurdy-gurdy: new articulations
The purpose of this thesis is to expand existing literature concerning the hurdy-gurdy as a contemporary musical instrument. Notably, it addresses the lack of hurdy-gurdy literature in the context of contemporary composition and performance. Research into this subject has been triggered by the author’s experience as a hurdy-gurdy performer and composer and the importance of investigating and documenting the hurdy-gurdy as an instrument capable of performing well outside the idioms of traditional music. This thesis consists of a collection of new works for hurdy-gurdy and investigation of existing literature including reference to the author’s personal experience as a hurdy-gurdy composer and performer. It will catalogue and systematically document a selection of hurdy-gurdy techniques and extended performance techniques, and demonstrate these within the practical context of new music compositions created by the author. This creative work and technique investigation and documentation is a valuable resource for those seeking deeper practical and academic understanding of the hurdy-gurdy within the context of contemporary music making.