Past Events

Every fortnight during semester, our musicologists present a research lecture on a variety of topics. Designed as a showcase for SCM researchers and a venue for research visitors, this series is held in conjunction with the Alfred Hook Lectures (one per semester) and the ‘About Music’ Public Lecture Series.

For information on 2018 musicology events – please click here.

See below for details of our past musicology colloquium series.

Semester 1 2017

1. Daniel Herscovitch (University of Sydney)
The Art of Fugue in the Context of Bach’s Final Decade

Wednesday 15 March, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

The Art of Fugue marks the conclusion of Bach’s compositional career. This presentation discusses the work in its relationship to the other five major compositions of his final decade. Issues which are raised include the genres of these works, the implications of their titles (the names by which these are known today are, for the most part, not Bach’s own designations), the forms in which they have come down to us and their place within the performance practices of the time. It will challenge received wisdom and conclude by discussing various issues to be confronted in preparing a performance of this work on the modern piano. Intended as a preface to a performance of The Art of Fugue by the speaker on 21 March, this talk will shed new light on a work which Paul Henry Lang has fittingly described as ‘a philosophical breviary, every measure of which invites reflection and thought.’

2. Vincent Plush (University of Adelaide)
Music in the Life and Work of Patrick White

Wednesday 29 March, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

There is music on practically every page of the work of Patrick White (1912-1990), Australia’s best known – and perhaps least read – novelist, and thus far our only winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1973). Music was one of White’s greatest loves, and yet there has been so little commentary devoted to this dimension of his work. My decade-long investigation has been based on a number of sources, primarily the two pivotal volumes by David Marr (the Life and the Letters); also an examination of the notebooks and correspondence (most of it unpublished) by White and his associates: interviews with surviving members of his circle; and my own experience of life in Sydney in the 1970s-80s, a period which may now be viewed as a kind of ‘golden age’ for the creative arts in White’s home city.

My research has created an inventory of the music White experienced whilst writing his novels and plays. It has also revealed the more interior role of music as a structural foundation for White’s novels and his characters. I contend, for instance, that Voss is a symphony, based on Mahler and Bruckner, with the figure of Laura Trevelyan derived from Berg’s Violin Concerto. Until now, our appreciation of White’s work has been hampered by a lack of awareness of the place of music in his writing. This study suggests a template for examining the role of music in the lives and works of our writers and other creative artists.

3. Christopher Coady (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
St. Augustine High School and the Spectre of Teen Activism in New Orleans 1961-1963

Wednesday 12 April, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

The past several decades of United States civil rights scholarship has painted an increasingly complex picture of both the breadth and nature of contributions to the movement. Recent work undertaken by Jim Hall (2016) on the Mississippi Freedom schools of 1964 is notable in this regard for placing the actions of teenagers, as opposed to those of college students or adult activists, front and centre in a discussion of how energy in the civil rights movement was sustained in the face of substantial setbacks. Yet Hall’s tendency to conceptualise this energy primarily in terms of a swelling of activist ranks leaves the unique symbolism teen participation held for particular communities largely unexamined.

In this paper, I outline the way political action undertaken by teenagers enrolled in St. Augustine High School in New Orleans during the first half of the 1960s resonated with and inspired community members engaged in parallel political pursuits. Extending Robin Bernstein’s (2011) work on the symbolic nature of childhood, I argue that the desegregation battles fought in New Orleans following the Brown v. Board of Education decision elevated the importance of what was coded as Catholically distinct behaviour in the city. Politically active Catholic teenagers were then used by both the white and African-American press as galvanising instruments, capable of shaming adults to action, in the lead up to the 1963 Freedom March. Such findings demonstrate that the salience of teen participation in civil rights protests was intimately tied to the values of the communities in which they took place.

4. Richard Cohn (Yale University)
Poetic and Empirical Theories of Musical Meter: Cognitive Dissonance in the Historical Archive, the Laboratory, and the Modern Conservatory Classroom

Wednesday 26 April, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

18th-century theories of musical meter, derived from poetry, teach that the binary strong/weak classification of beats is absolute. But every musician knows that, in common and compound meters, there are beats that are simultaneously weaker than the downbeat and stronger than the counting beat. This talk theorizes the distinction between these two views of meter, and traces the tension between them as it is negotiated by 18th-century theorists in Germany and Scotland; by modern-day writers of music-theory textbooks, who uncritically perpetuate the 18th-century view; and by recent scholars in perceptual psychology.

5. Chris May (University of Oxford)
Colourful Dreams: Arvo Pärt’s Soviet Film Music

Wednesday 10 May, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt left the Soviet Union in early 1980, a few years after first writing in his so-called ‘tintinnabuli’ style. In the two decades before his emigration, he composed nearly forty original scores for Soviet cinema. This body of music is substantial and diverse, yet a critical literature focused on tintinnabuli has produced barely any scholarship on it. This paper has grown out of my preliminary research on Pärt’s film output, conducted in 2015 in Tallinn. It proceeds in two stages, both bound up with wider questions of how best to study living composers and music from the Soviet Union. I first ask why the Soviet film scores are habitually written out of critical narratives about Pärt, concluding that none of the major reasons is especially robust. Using several case studies, I then try to place some of the film music into intertextual dialogue with Pärt’s concert scores, arguing in particular that film work was a crucial forum for his experiments with both dodecaphony and tintinnabuli.

6. Michael Burden (University of Oxford)
Singing ‘fantastically in Italian’: Farinelli, Porpora, and the third style of composition

Wednesday 24 May, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

On 27 March 1756, the actress Kitty Clive chose David Garrick’s ever-popular Lethe as the afterpiece on a bill for her benefit. The play was advertised with ‘a new scene by Garrick… New Mimic Italian Song by Mrs Clive’, and with the addition of a new character, Lord Chalkstone, for Garrick. In the play, Clive’s character, Mrs Riot, on being told that there are no glittering balls, enchanting masquerades or ravishing operas in Elysium, responds: ‘What! no Operas! eh! no Elisienthen! [Sings fantastically in Italian.] ’Sfortunato Monticelli! banish’d Elysium, as well as the Hay-Market! Your Taste here, I suppose, rises no higher than your Shakespears [sic] and your Johnsons …’

Tate Wilkinson recalled that Clive was universally encored when she sang her ‘song from the Italian Opera, where she was free with a good ridiculous imitation of Signora Mingotti, who was the darling favourite at the King’s Theatre, and admired by all the amateurs’. Mingotti was not only a favourite; she was a major opera star, who had arrived in London via Dresden and Madrid (where she sung at the Spanish court under the direction of Farinelli), and in the next season would be both the first woman and the first performer to act as impresario at the Opera House. But she was also representative of a circle of singers taught by the composer Nicola Porpora, singers such as Felice Salimbeni and Gaetano Caffarello, whose performing skills had resulted in what some commentators called a ‘third style in musical composition’.

The question this paper sets out to answer is just what was the ‘third style’? Did it really exist, or was it a critic’s fantasy? And perhaps most importantly, what did it mean to sing ‘fantastically in Italian’ in an English play?

Semester 2 2017

1. Wednesday 2 August, 4:15pm sharp, Room 21741. Dr Myfany Turpin (University of Sydney)
Tracing the origins of an Aboriginal travelling song: the Wanji-wanji of the Western Desert

Classical Indigenous Australian culture consisted of ceremonies that were not only land-based songs, but also ‘travelling songs’ (McCarthy 1939). Like folk songs, these toured across political, ethnic and linguistic divides, quickly gaining popularity despite being in a foreign tongue. Many were purely entertainment or ‘fun’ songs, with no religious significance. Early colonists adopted the term ‘corroboree’ from the Sydney region word for this genre, carib-berie.

The most well-documented travelling song is the Molonga, known to have travelled from inland Queensland through central Australia and South Australia (Hercus 1980, Kimber 1990, Gibson 2015). In this paper I trace another example of this genre, first documented in 1913 and recorded more recently by myself and linguist Felicity Meakins some 2470kms away. In 2015 we recorded a number of song sets performed by Gurindji men and women in Kalkaringi, NT. Upon further investigation, 11 of these songs had also been recorded 800 km to the south in 1975 (Moyle 1979). Furthermore, one of these, known as Wanji-wanji had also been documented in WA in 1913 and recorded in 1970 (Bracknell 2015: 167).

Like the Molonga, Wanji-wanji is known by different names across the country, and is said to have come from neighbouring or more distant language groups along trade routes and stock routes. In this seminar I present the musical and linguistic evidence to show that these are all the same song and coupled with a discussion of the socio-historical context in which the songs were performed, suggest their possible origins and meanings.

2. Dr Michael Webb (University of Sydney)
Melanesians and Music on the Move: South Sea Island Shipboard and Plantation Performance in Queensland, 1860s-1906

Wednesday 23 August, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

In this diachronic, archive-based ethnomusicological study, I argue that shipboard and plantation music and dance practices cast new light on the ways South Sea Islanders (SSI) acted out agency and asserted new identities as they became tangled up in the dynamics of colonial encounters. Trading ships started to operate in Melanesia in the 1840s and island men were quickly drawn to the nautical life. Contact with the West brought opportunity but also exploitation when in 1863 the recruitment of Islanders for farm and plantation work in Queensland began (between 1863 and 1904, some 62,000 men, women and children were brought to Queensland, most from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu). Labour trade practices were marred by ongoing abuses and many Melanesians lost their lives. As they ventured out into the unknown on recruiting ships, Islanders engaged in performance in order to establish cross-societal bonds with villagers from islands other than their own, and also with European sailors and settlers. White settlers viewed the SSI through the prism of minstrelsy, the popular entertainment of the day, derided their ancestral dances as savage, and exoticised them in their own entertainments. For their part, Islanders took advantage of musical contexts to form alliances with whites, in an attempt to gain a footing in the new settler world.

Pieced together, the surviving fragments of archival information reveal that SSI achieved this through holding balls, acquiring new instrumental skills, performing in concerts, attending stage productions, learning and teaching hymns, and having their voices recorded on wax cylinders. They experimented with any and all modes of sound making, looking to music as a source of enjoyment and a means of individual and collective self-advancement. They took instruments, repertoire items, and gramophones back to their home islands as evidence of their familiarity with the wider world, and as creative resources to employ in the changing times ahead of them. Those who remained in Queensland at the beginning of the 20th century faced the challenge of how to integrate and indigenise the new musical ideas, and transform them into life and community sustaining expressions.

3. Professor Dorottya Fabian (UNSW)
Analyzing Difference: Compositions, performing traditions, and individual artistic signatures

Wednesday 6 September, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Through a case study of recordings of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solos Violin the paper argues that enlisting Deleuzian concepts when analyzing multiple performances of the same piece is useful for the exploration of practices of performance. Such analysis reveals a continuously shifting-transforming performance style and provides a rich tapestry of diversity within and across nominally agreed upon stylistic trends and characteristics such as romantic-expressive, classical-modernist or historically informed. This supports a non-categorical, non-hierarchical approach to analysis as a method for investigating diversity in performance. The paper shows that such an approach can not only highlight the complex interactions of parameters that readings in the multi-dimensional space of “style”, but also assists our understanding of “the work” as emergent and a multiplicity.

4. Laura Hassler (Founder and director, Musicians without Borders)
War Divides, Music Connects: music as a tool for empathy

Wednesday 13 September, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

As active and concerned human beings, how do we understand the state of our world and our species in these turbulent times? As musicians and music professionals, which core qualities of the art form we know and love can we access to contribute to saving lives, bridging divides, and healing the wounds of war and injustice? How do we connect effectively and appropriately with people affected by war and conflict? As artists and arts professionals, how do we frame our activism, our scholarship, our community involvement, our devotion to social change?

Musicians without Borders works in some of the world’s most intransigent conflict and post-conflict regions: Kosovo, Rwanda, Uganda, Palestine, Northern Ireland, El Salvador—and in Europe, with people driven from their homes by war, only to meet walls, fences and a climate of fear and exclusion.

In collaboration with musicians around the world, Musicians without Borders brings music to people in communities struggling with division, isolation and loss. Originally a project organization, Musicians without Borders now works to expand its impact through its training program, and by collaborating with academic communities and other artists and arts organizations. Laura Hassler, director of the organization, explores how musicians may be our era’s most powerful peacemakers.

5. Dr Zoltán Szabó (University of Sydney)
Varietas delectat: Alternative readings in the sources, editions and performances of J. S. Bach’s Solo Cello Suites

Wednesday 4 October, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174 

For a performer, it is of vital importance to be able to trust the information in the score regarding pitch, rhythm, articulation etc. The recognition that this may not always be a realistic expectation is a foundational reason behind this examination of the complex source and edition history of the Bach Cello Suites and other similar repertoire. A study of the Suites reveals a confusing multitude of conflicting details from the various primary sources, and of even more concern, these divergences relate to all aspects of the notation (including features as basic as pitch). Taking the Suites as a case study, this paper will investigate how a piece can and often does undergo momentous alterations during the process of composition, copying, editing, publishing and, finally, performance. The alternative readings in the sources and later in the editions create multiple layers of interpretations, which can subtly or even substantially modify the piece even before the ‘artist is added to the artwork’. As even the critical editions of the last few decades have significant disagreements in their initial scholarly approach and ultimate result, the modernist aspiration to reproduce accurately the composer’s intentions faces major challenges.

6. Dr Alan Maddox (University of Sydney)
Music and Intellectual History: the case of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Wednesday 18 October, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Recent thinking about Intellectual History has moved beyond studying only verbal texts, to encompass other kinds of visual and aural texts that can be vehicles for generative thought. Where might music fit into this expanded conception? If ideas are defined purely as concepts that can be expressed in words, music can be no more than an “epiphenomenon”, a consequence or representation of ideas that lie behind it, but not capable of embodying those ideas in itself. Yet to many musicians, it seems obvious that music can function as a way in which ideas are developed and worked out. What kinds of knowledge might be embodied in music, then, and how do its meanings change over time? In this paper, I examine some of these issues through consideration of one of the key texts of Western art music, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, exploring how it was conceived in a liturgical context in Bach’s time, how its meaning changed when transposed to the very different milieus of concert performance in nineteenth-century Berlin and colonial Sydney, and as it has been re-imagined in a variety of recent staged and recorded versions.


Semester 1 2016 

1. Nigel Fabb (University of Strathclyde) via SKYPE
Wednesday 9 March, 5:00pm sharp, Room 2174 (please note exceptional time of 5pm)

Two routes to epiphany in music, song and literature

I define an ‘epiphany’ as a subjectively significant experience, which is triggered by some external source (a piece of music, song, text, painting, etc), brief and sudden, and relatively rare.  The experience may be epistemically distinctive, involving some important but ineffable insight, or a meaning which is ‘difficult to understand’. The experience may be emotionally distinctive, and may involve ‘chills’ or tears or other autonomic arousal.  The study of these ‘secular’ epiphanies includes the sublime, and the study of special moments in literary studies, aesthetics and psychology.  In the psychology of music, there has been extensive experimental work on ‘chills’ and more generally on epiphanies in music (e.g., Gabrielsson’s ‘strong experiences in music’, or Liza Lim’s compositions and theory).   My long-term research project focuses on how epiphanies are triggered, and in this talk I discuss two different kinds of trigger, which however appear to be connected.

One type of trigger is ‘exogenous’, characteristically part of the primary sensory effects of the medium: in music, extremes and sudden changes in loudness (and crescendo) and tempo; in visual art, flash, shine and brilliance.  The other type of trigger is ‘endogenous’, characteristically emerging from the form of the text (tonal structure, or poetic metre, etc), and in this talk I focus on formal complexities which involve overlapping groups and the production of ‘liminalities’.  We perceive the world (and aesthetic objects) by forming elements into groups, these groups being events, narrative episodes, or musical ‘grouping structure’ (identified by Lerdahl and Jackendoff).  Normally, groups do not overlap, but in aesthetics, group overlap can be used for specific effect.  I illustrate with a simple example from Haydn, and in more detail with an ‘epiphanic’ overlap from Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse.

Having identified two distinct routes to epiphany, I ask whether they are connected.  I draw on work on Australian Aboriginal song (in its performance context), by Linda Barwick and others (Ellis, Marett, Turpin, Treloyn, etc), where ‘iridescence’ is both an exogenous and endogenous effect.  Exogenous triggers disrupt the surface of the text, while endogenous triggers such as group overlap disrupt the internal edges of the text; in both cases, liminality (surface/edge) is disrupted.  I conclude by asking why liminality disruptions should trigger the special experience of epiphany.

2.Martin Ennis (University of Cambridge)
Wednesday 23 March, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Secrets of the Grave: New Light on Brahms’s Funeral works

That Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem, Op. 45) is strikingly original in both conception and design was immediately clear to his contemporaries.  After all, it challenged generic conventions in its unorthodox use of German texts and by its apparent refusal to espouse an overtly Christian message.  At the time of its premiere all but a handful of close friends believed the Requiem to be an autonomous art-work.  Over time, however, various connections with pre-existing musical material have come to light.  Perhaps most intriguing is the issue of whether or not the Requiem is based on a Lutheran chorale and, if so, which.  According to the Berlin-based conductor Siegfried Ochs, Brahms once claimed that a chorale lies at the root of the work, and corroborating or disproving Ochs’s claim has exercised numerous Brahms scholars over recent decades.  In the process, several chorales have been proposed as the Requiem’s source material.

This afternoon’s paper will attempt to advance the discussion by looking afresh at Ochs’s comments on the Requiem and by proposing a new perspective on the origins of the work.  This in turn should help answer once and for all the question about the chorale.

3. David Larkin (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
Wednesday 27 April, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

The battle for hearts and minds: Liszt and the Viennese critics, March 1858

After an enormously successful early career as a performer, Franz Liszt withdrew from concertizing to focus on composition. The works he produced in the 1850s were highly contested at the time, attracting both passionate support and vehement opposition. The established narrative of Liszt’s career regards him as taking an increasingly passive line in the face of this critical storm, summed up in his mantra ‘I can wait’. However, in reality Liszt was assiduous in trying to create an audience for his works, not just through performing and pamphleteering, but also through concerted media campaigns and direct contact with the critics.

In this paper, I will focus on two concerts of his music which Liszt conducted in the Austrian capital in March 1858, for which there is rich extant documentation in the press and in his correspondence. Analysing the concert reviews reveals a journalistic infrastructure in which the reviewers seem as much to be responding to earlier reports as to the actual musical events. This is perhaps only to be expected at a time when the musical world was so sharply polarised. Even more intriguing is Liszt’s involvement in attempting to shape the popular and critical response, both in the run-up to the concerts and indeed afterwards. He fraternised beforehand with some members of the press as well as other power-brokers, and encouraged a few well-disposed figures to write favourable concert reports. From this detailed study of critical practices and reception politics Liszt emerges looking far less idealistic than has often been imagined.

4. Catherine Ingram (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
Wednesday 25 May, 3:45pm sharp, Room 2174

Reconsidering Ethnographic Comparison in Music Research

The value of ethnographic comparison is not always addressed explicitly in ethnographic publications—indeed, in ethnomusicology in particular, there was a turn against comparison following the perceived detractions in Alan Lomax’s comparative cantometrics project of the 1950s–1960s (Lomax 1968). However, more careful consideration of the literature reveals that comparison remains at the heart of much of the most esteemed ethnographic work in both ethnomusicology and anthropology. Michael Herzfeld (2001) convincingly argues for the degree to which forms of comparison are invoked in most ethnographic studies, which are often reliant upon a reflexive comparison between the experiences of the ethnographer in and outside the field: “at one level, the fundamental ground of comparison is almost always the self of the ethnographer” (2001: 263). Herzfeld also notes how the use of cultural comparison by research participants themselves often forms an important part of ethnographic research in a variety of ways, even when research is conducted within one apparently distinct musical culture. Herzfeld’s advocacy for explicit forms of ethnographic comparison is echoed in a growing body of work that includes several articles utilizing comparison as a key feature of ethnographic analysis (Widlock 2001; Levy 2005; Narotzky 2009), and an edited collection entitled Anthropology, by Comparison (Gingrich and Fox 2002). This paper draws upon initial insights from my ongoing postdoctoral research into the music-making of selected cultural minorities in Australia and China to explore the ways in which new musical ethnographic comparative approaches may be developed that are dissociated from earlier, problematic connections between comparison and the production of “Grand Theory” (and other positivist approaches), and how comparison may be reinvigorated within new ethnomusicological analytical research frameworks.

Semester 2 2016 

1. Jocelyn Ho (UCLA)
Wednesday 27 July – 4:15pm sharp, Recital Hall West

Analysing and Composing with the Performing Body

Theorists are thinkers, composers are creators, performers are doers. Over-simplified as they are, these designations nevertheless sum up our perception of each of these musical sub-disciplines. Each with its own exclusive preoccupation: theorists write about music, composers create it, and performers concretise it in real time. However, while analyses and compositions are predominantly text-based, the majority of the outputs of performers—performances—are a lot more ephemeral, vanishing only hours into thin air after they begin.  Because of this difference between text and experience, or more generically between how we traditionally split the mind from the body, composers and theorists are regarded to be at the forefront of creative and critical enquiry respectively; in contrast, the contribution of performers does not seem to be quite on par. Indeed, performers are merely doers; they are laborers whose work is primarily done through their bodily, physical skills.

Yet, to think that performers cannot contribute to analytical and creative enquiry is to entirely miss the point of music making. In this talk, I will focus on the phenomenon of live performance, situating the performer’s body at the forefront in investigating analysis and composition as reciprocal processes. I argue that performers, more specifically, the performers’ bodily gestures, are key to the critical understanding and the creation of music. This talk contains three parts: in the first instance, I will investigate the concept of embodied musical gestures through a range of inter-disciplinary scholars, ultimately defining a concept that is useful and fruitful in discussing performance. In the second part, I will use Toru Takemitsu’s Rain Tree Sketch II for piano (1994) as a testing ground for analysing with the performative body as the starting point. And lastly, I will discuss how composing with performative gestures in my composition Sheng (2016) for piano, audience’s smartphones, and fixed audio playback elicits the cross-modal, inter-sensory nature of embodied musical gestures.

Indeed, the concept of embodied musical gesture has the potential to dissolve the artificial fractures between the activities of thinking, creating, and doing. Analysing and composing with the performing body do away with this mind-body split, offering refreshing and generative insights that do justice to the physical nature of music making.

2. Jadey O’Regan (Arts Music Unit)
Wednesday 10 August – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Keeping an Eye on Summer: A (short) narrative of the Beach Boys’ 1960s music through popular music analysis and visual musicology

The Beach Boys were an American rock group, best known for their songs about “surf, cars and girls” during the early-to-mid 1960s. This paper offers a small slice of the research I completed for my PhD thesis, which aimed to define the unique mix of musical and para-musical elements that contributed to the Beach Boys’ “sound”.

Musicologist John Covach used a “craft to art” model to explain how the Beatles’ use of song structures changed chronologically. The Beach Boys show a similar progression throughout their music, however, they also experienced an earlier “apprentice” phase when the group was still finding their voices and learning their instruments. This paper will explore song structures, instrumentation, chord progressions and lyrics to show how the Beach Boys’ music moved through three distinct periods of musical development, and how the changes in their music align with changes in their own lives within the context of Southern California in the 1960s. In tracing this narrative, this paper will also discuss broader issues of music analysis and popular music research, such as finding suitable methodologies and interpreting large amounts of musical information.

When the Beach Boys sang “Will I dig the same things that turned me on as a kid?” in “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” (1965) we hear the tension between being a boy and wanting to be man. On their early albums, we also hear that development from boy to man, and we also hear their transformation from apprentice musicians to artists in the recording studio.

3. Michael Halliwell (SCM)
Wednesday 24 August – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Film as Opera: A Case Study

Opera and film is an area of scholarly endeavour that has engaged a wide variety of methodologies in recent years. The usual areas of investigation include opera on film; opera as film; opera in film, and film in opera. However, film as opera is a relatively new phenomenon. A particular case study will form the basis of this presentation. André Previn drew on David Lean’s 1945 film, Brief Encounter, based on Noel Coward’s 1936 play, Still Life, for an opera premiered in 2009. The Coward play is virtually forgotten today; however, Coward wrote the screenplay for the film which still commands great respect. The transformation from play to film through the use of interior monologue is one of its major features, and the opera adapts this through the use of aria and ensemble. This paper investigates how this adaptation of the film drew on different elements of both source works, finding a distinctive dramaturgical and musical response to the screenplay.

4. Scott Davie
21 September – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Abandoned notes? Exploring the fate of a discarded Rachmaninoff piano sketch.

The political upheavals of 1917 in Russia irreversibly altered the career of composer, conductor and pianist, Sergei Rachmaninoff. With his wife and two young daughters, he left his homeland on the pretence of a brief concert tour; in fact, they would never return. Due to the haste and secrecy of their departure, they carried with them only the barest essentials. In this light, my discovery in 2003 of a sketch of a short piano work on Russian manuscript paper, held in the composer’s ‘Western’ archive at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., is of particular interest. A reconstruction of this work was recorded by me in 2006 (ABC Classics), and by Vladimir Ashkenazy in 2012 (Decca). Early biographers were aware that the manuscript of Rachmaninoff’s still-incomplete Fourth Piano Concerto was carried in the composer’s suitcase when he left Russia, and it has subsequently come to light that the manuscripts of three short piano works dating from late 1917 also were taken with him. The question, therefore, arises as to the significance of the discovered sketch, and whether it, like these other short piano pieces, may have been intended for publication at some stage.

In this paper I place the discovered piano piece within the context of Rachmaninoff’s development as a composer, from the experimental modernity of the songs and piano pieces, opp. 38 and 39 (1916-17), through the long-worked-on but stylistically unique Fourth Piano Concerto, op. 40 (1926, 1928, 1941), to the popular variation-style works of the 1930s (including the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43). I contend that while precisely dating the discovered piano piece may not be possible, it displays hallmarks of the composer’s style around the time of the 1917 Revolution. I also advance the theory that pages discarded from the original version of the Fourth Concerto provide a clue as to why Rachmaninoff abandoned the sketch.

5. Dean Sutcliffe (University of Auckland)
Friday 7 October – Graduate Sympsoium

The loose-knit nature of development sections, and more broadly of structural middles, compared with opening and closing sections has long been acknowledged. This is often understood as arising from a sort of teleological necessity: the need to work out the implications of the given material, to “take it further”. But if we consider such sections less from the point of view of “formal logic” and focus instead on the sort of social behaviour they suggest, the role that they play seems less obvious. Why should such relatively freely organized material be required within a late eighteenth-century musical idiom that places such an unprecedented emphasis on periodic organization – on an arrangement of material that seems to go out of its way to ensure intelligibility for the listener? Often enough these middle sections seem to shed the “discipline” of periodic construction, to lack the sort of reciprocal, varied presentation of material we expect to hear. Rather than pleasing through variety, they may suggest mechanical or obsessive behaviour, “labouring” a particular musical point. These are not attributes that fit readily with a predominantly “polite”, sociable style. However, the development section – which came into being as such precisely in this era – has become such a familiar part of our musical knowledge that we rarely pause to think about this. What purpose could such an abdication of normal musical syntax serve? How might listeners have been expected to react? I consider this problem with reference to works by Brunetti, Mozart, Kraus, Pleyel, Joseph Haydn and Michael Haydn.

6. Joseph Toltz (SCM)
Wednesday 19 October – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Out of the depths: complexity, subjectivity and materiality in the first collection of Holocaust songs

In the wake of the Holocaust, Jews responded to their postwar situation by telling stories, writing poetry, making music, creating art, and reflecting on their collective experience and its meaning.  This vast outpouring of what one might call “post Holocaust culture,” no matter the form it took, might all be seen as a way of “bearing witness.” And the very act of producing culture after the Holocaust suggests a desire for there to be some notion of a collective Jewish people.  

Forms of post Holocaust culture might be considered a form of non-testimonial “bearing witness.” Rather than tell their experiences surviving the war and Holocaust, they represented and/or reflected either on their personal experience of wartime, even if it wasn’t an experience directly related to the Holocaust, or on the collective Jewish experience writ large through music, art, and literature.

This paper will focus on the first post-Holocaust songbook Mima’amakim, compiled by Yehuda Eismann in Bucharest in 1945, a copy of which recently appeared in a private collection in Sydney, Australia.  The tiny pamphlet contains songs that would become part of the canonic memorialising repertoire of the Shoah, songs that disappeared from all other written accounts, clues to the contributors and places of origin of the songs and a testimonial introduction by the compiler. How does such a material object open further conversations on the place of music inside and outside testimony? How does aesthetic subjectivity of the musical experience interact with the process of testimonial canonisation, determining exclusion and inclusion of one song over another?

Semester 1 2015 

1. Richard Cohn (Musicology)
Wednesday 11 March 2015, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Meter Without Tactus
The paper critiques the view that meter has a primary pulse, or tactus. Although this view is broadly held in principle, in practice it is unstably executed. The paper argues that the tactus idea is appropriate for much 18th-century repertory, but optional for a general theory of meter. It explores the historical circumstances that have perpetuated the tactus idea from the 18th century to the present day. The paper concludes by advocating for a new metric pedagogy that emphasizes integration of pulses without privileging one of them.

2. David Baker (Institute of Education, University of London)
Wednesday 18 March, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Insights in Sound: Visually-Impaired Musicians’ Lives and Learning.
“Visually-impaired musicians’ lives” (VIML) is a project investigating the musical experiences of blind and partially-sighted people through life history interviews and an online survey. This encompasses instrumentalists, singers, composers and music teachers from amateurs to professionals, with respondents contributing from various countries (e.g. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, the UK and USA). There are longstanding traditions of “blind musicianship” across the world, e.g. in Sierra Leone (Ottenberg, 1996), minstrelsy in the Ukraine (Kononenko, 1998) and in Japan (De Ferranti, 2009; Lubet, 2011; Groemer, 2012), to the early jazz of the US Southern States (Batterson, 1998; Southall, 1999; Harrah, 2004; Rowden, 2009; Fuqua, 2011). Prominent jazz and popular musicians in recent years, such as Ray Charles, George Shearing, Art Tatum and Stevie Wonder have, undoubtedly, amplified society’s interest in visual impairment and music. This is clothed in “social lore” such as higher religious wisdom in itinerant minstrels or the assumption, on the part of many sighted people, that “in the absence of one sense another is augmented”. Research, too, has explored notions of heightened musical cognitive and auditory capacities (e.g. Welch, 1988; Hamilton, Pascual-Leone & Schlaug, 2004; Melcher & Zampini, 2011; Dimatati et al., 2012). But, against this backdrop, what are the life experiences of today’s visually-impaired musicians?  This presentation will introduce some extraordinary musicians we have met. Themes of “accessibility” (e.g. of repertoire, music technology products, teaching practices), “independent mobility” (in relation to musical work) and “marginalisation” thread into these musicians’ lives. Innovators combating the barriers they face will also be introduced: accessibility technology is sculpting the musical landscape for these people, yet also brings with it substantial challenges. With alternative score formats (e.g. Braille music, large print, modified stave notation, talking scores), musical learning processes differ too for the visually impaired, thus affecting genre choices and educational pathways. Drawing together the various threads, questions surrounding social inclusion in music-making will be raised.

3. Alan Maddox (Musicology)
Wednesday 15 April, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

“The finest and grandest work ever created by human genius”: The first Sydney performance of J.S Bach’s St Matthew Passion
Archival records and contemporary press reports paint a vivid picture of the first Sydney performance of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, in April 1880, juxtaposing its lofty cultural ambitions with a rather modest musical outcome. The difficulty of the piece, both to perform and to listen to, was a constant theme in commentary surrounding the performance, and this idea was often elided with discourses of genius and transcendence which assimilated Bach’s early eighteenth-century music to distinctly nineteenth-century concepts of profundity and Greatness. Reviews of the performance indicate that it was something of a musical ordeal, yet at the same time it was regarded as a worthy achievement which reflected well on the city’s musical reputation and carried special significance for a newly confident colonial society. The conductor’s score and orchestral parts, specially imported for the first performance, remained in use until at least 1954.  Now held in the Conservatorium’s Rare Books collection, they provide a rich, multilayered record of the early Australian performance history of “The finest and grandest work ever created by human genius”.

4. Michael Webb (Music Education) and Camellia Webb-Gannon (Justice Research Group, University of Western Sydney)
Wednesday 29 April, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Musical Melanesianism
Melanesia—a racialised construct meaning ‘the black islands’—is the Pacific Islands region located immediately to the north and east of Australia. Unique for its prodigious cultural diversity and linguistic density, the region was instrumental in the founding of the discipline of anthropology. Over the past decade younger Melanesian Islanders have begun using popular music (song, dance & video) as a means to project a unified vision of themselves and their region, in part to counter negative portrayals of the region abroad and to express their deep concern over the deprivation of fellow Melanesians’ right to political autonomy. This process has involved appropriating reggae and hip-hop as tools for turning the pejorative associations and experiences of being labelled the black “nesia” into a feature to celebrate. In this presentation we will discuss a corpus of popular songs and accompanying videos produced over the last decade that promote Melanesian regional identity. Our analysis is guided by a framework that considers the lyrical, musical and visual devices through which musical Melanesianism is being articulated and projected: mapping, flagging, dancing and vocality—devices from the “do-it-yourself kit” for performing regionalism, as it has been termed by an eminent scholar of the region.

5. Jane Hardie (Medieval and Early Modern Centre, University of Sydney)
Wednesday 20 May, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Into the diaspora. The source, the scholars and the stacks in the digital age: an Early Modern Spanish Jeronymite Processional, Sydney Rare Book Additional Manuscript 380.

In 1509 there were about 300 Spanish Jeronymite Processionals, both in manuscript and in print, many of which emanated from the Zaragoza printer Jorge Coci (Libros de Actas Generales of 1685 Volumes 1-2 folio 221verso). In 2004 the late Michel Huglo was able to identify just 13 extant manuscript Jeronymite Processionals of known Spanish origin, now widely dispersed throughout the old and new worlds. This makes the Sydney Rare Book Additional manuscript 380 the fourteenth known manuscript of a Spanish Jeronymite Processional. Probably from the monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Spain, this Processional is one a number Spanish liturgical music manuscripts in the diaspora of the Rare Book collection of the University of Sydney.

Although Sydney 380 presents as a very small plain book, with very little information, one can provide it with a context through comparison with contemporary source material and even reconstruct particular processions for specific feasts at identifiable places. The events enshrined in this book celebrate special occasions, in which the participants move along preordained routes, pause at special places, sing music specific to an occasion, and commemorate special people or events. This Sydney Processional contains liturgical chant and ritual instructions for processions on feasts appropriate to the order, including Palm Sunday, Corpus Christi and some Marian feasts, and concludes with music associated with the period immediately following death. Today’s technology allows us to return the Sydney Processional to its original space by linking the music and images of the manuscript with its home monastery in order to recreate a context within which Sydney 380 would have been used.

6. Sarah Collins (UNSW)
Wednesday 3 June, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Autonomy as Commitment within the Modernist Project: E.J. Dent, Mozart and Aesthetic Democracy

The aesthetic regime of high modernism is often described in terms of art seeking distance from politics, ethics and the social, expressed in artistic practice as a rejection of representation and mimesis. This championing of autonomy has historically attracted intimations of deviance and subversion, and has been associated with an attitude of non-participation in, or withdrawal from, collective identification. In recent years however, this singular view of modernist autonomy has come under pressure. Jacque Rancière joins a number of theorists in attempting to re-describe the aesthetic regime as being intimately bound up with a belief in the possibility of political emancipation—a possibility denied by the ‘post’ modern stigmatization of the aesthetic as masking forms of social domination. For Rancière, aesthetic autonomy acted as ‘ the principle of a new form of collective life’, and a way of delivering real equality.

This paper will explore the claim that modernist autonomy can be viewed in terms of political action, collective life and egalitarianism, via the work of music scholar E.J. Dent (1876-1957). Dent’s is a case of special interest due to the seemingly contradictory nature of his activities—he was a staunch advocate of ‘modern’ music, but yet was devoted to increasing music’s accessibility; he was internationalist in outlook, both in art and life, yet he spent a great deal of energy arguing for the establishment of an English National Opera; and he was committed to the performance of the music of ‘to-day’ while at once holding to a distinctive notion of ‘modern classicism’. These apparent oppositions within Dent’s agenda, when taken as forming a coherent project, offer an opportunity to trace democratic implications of his modernist paradigm, and in particular the capacity of the aesthetic to forge a collective, egalitarian sphere of discourse.

Semester 2 2015 

1. Peter McCallum (Musicology and Academic Board)
Wednesday 12 August, 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer – the Conservatorium and the history of educational reform
The history of the Conservatorium is often, quite reasonably, thought of as part of Sydney’s musical and cultural history. Such views give a fair account of its impact, but do not fully explain the driving forces behind its creation and evolution. Further insight into its establishment and development can be gained by placing them within the history of broader educational reform. Its early decades were accompanied by proselytising pieties about raising people above the purely mercantile to build civic society (the Sermon). The narrative after World War II aimed increasingly at expanding access, and reducing inequality. However, the inexorable tread towards mass higher education in the last quarter of the century has put strains on music’s pedagogical model. Its response to globalisation has been patchy and it is doubtful whether it is well-prepared for deregulation. This talk arises from observations in writing The Centenary of the Con: a history of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music 1915 – 2015 (Allen and Unwin: 2015)The hope is that understanding how educational reform agendas shaped the Conservatorium’s history will throw light on present strengths and tensions and assist in creating its future (the Prayer).

2. Erin Helyard (Australian National University)
Wednesday 2 September – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

“To Prevent the Abuse of the Open Pedal”: Meticulous Pedal Markings from Madame du Brillon to Moscheles.
Scholars, performers, and teachers who study, perform, and teach on historical keyboards with damper-raising mechanisms are divided in how to interpret the earliest markings that indicate their use in print and manuscript. Even if many of these markings are precise in notating the raising and subsequent lowering of the dampers, many see these as indicative and suggestive, and in performance and teaching we often use the open pedal (to use the English nomenclature) where none is indicated and often in very short bursts, rather than the longer swathes often indicated. This paper proposes a radical re-evaluation of pedal indications in scores from the earliest markings in Madame du Brillon’s compositions to those carefully notated for two performers in duets by Moscheles. Revisions by Clementi for the publication of his Oeuvres Complettes indicate an especial care with the notation of the open pedal and there was an increased concern in the early 1800s that the pedal was being using indiscriminately, and many players were absorbed, indeed hypnotized, with the “soft undulating effect of the Eolian Harp” as Czerny put it. I argue for a new chronology of the earliest indications in manuscript, discuss the important relationship the damper-raising mechanism had with female pianists, and examine the confluence of careful contrapuntal notation with pedal markings in English and Viennese compositions of the period. It may be possible that many present-day fortepianists are “pedalling” earlier repertoire in an ahistorical fashion that has more in common with the practices of the 1860s and 1870s, as documented by Köhler and Schmitt, and which arguably forms the basis of a “modern” school of pedalling. Recalibrating our conception of the “open pedal” from its origin as a special effect operated by hand stops, I argue, resonates better with the evidence of the markings themselves, as documented in Parisian, London, and Viennese sources.

3. Christopher Coady (Musicology)
Wednesday 16 September – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Shotgun Weddings and Bohemian Dreams: Jazz, family values and storytelling in Australian film
Recent research on jazz presence in Australian film has demonstrated how the genre was once used to enhance narratives about both the threats and the perceived benefits of impending modernization during the 1920s and 1930s. This paper charts the way in which the musical trope of the bluesy solo horn—established in American and Australian film noir productions of the 1970s and 1980s—was used in contrast to conjure a sense of nostalgia in Australian films produced during the early 1990s. Despite pivoting a period of 60 years, analysis undertaken in this article of Gillian Armstrong’s The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992) and Paul Harmon’s Shotgun Wedding (1993) reveals the continued deployment of jazz sounds to rhetorical ends within Australian films bent on exploring competing societal visions. In turn, its identification of a shift from the sound of jazz in general as a marker of the modern to the sound of the bluesy solo horn as a nostalgic trope reinforces the need to read the semiotics of jazz presence in Australian film against particular historical frames.

4. Gary Tomlinson (Yale University)
Wednesday 7 October – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Music and Human Evolution: A New View
Why is Homo sapiens a musical species?  What adaptive advantages did musicking afford in the course of our ancestors’ evolution?  The questions, posed as a problem to be resolved in the light of natural selection, are as old as the theory of selection itself, having been pondered by Darwin in his second greatest work, The Descent of Man.  In the century-and-a-half since then the questions have been reframed many times, yet their general dimensions and even the answers supplied have changed little.  In this talk I will describe a new model of the forces that conspired in the origin of musicking, building on evolutionary dynamics that have been recognized only in recent years.  In the process I will implicate musicking in a novel way in the general coalescence of our modernity.

5. Charles Fairchild (Arts Music)
Wednesday 14 October – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Caught Between the Spectacular and the Vernacular: Constructing the Ideal Musical Subject in the Popular Music Museum
The museum is a prime exemplar of the archive, organising the material remnants of everyday life into a credible, if not authoritative representation of myriad facets of the human existence in order to produce an ideal citizen-subject. Popular music museums seek to produce a ideal subject by explicitly establishing, constructing and articulating a collective understanding of popular music made material through rich, cross-media, cross-sensory environments made from a multitude of objects, instruments, images, sounds, soundscapes, and moving images. In recent years, the pursuit of these goals has meant the construction of extensive, high-tech displays set in high-profile buildings in the presumed ‘musical capitals’ of the world, such as Los Angeles, London and Nashville. These places are defined by expansive experiential infrastructures centred around sound technologies linked to digital screens or varying sizes and types.

The often fragile legitimacy of these institutions depends on their ability to obscure the tensions between their decidedly spectacular infrastructures and their purportedly vernacular materials. In order to survive, these institutions must translate the largely demotic experience of musical sociality into environments that must be attractive enough to capture the attention of a substantial public. I seek here to examine how these institutions work primarily through their strategic deployment of the vernacular elements of popular music practice and experience as codified within a demonstratively spectacular logic of visual, aural, and material display.

6. Simon Barker (Jazz)
Wednesday 28 October – 4:15pm sharp, Room 2174

Process Dilla: Engaging with Rhythmic Forms Appearing in Contemporary Hip Hop and Neo Soul

Over the past twenty years rhythmic process has become a primary organizing principle shaping contemporary jazz/improvised music. In addition to responding to past developments in jazz performance, improvisers are now regularly utilizing complex rhythmic processes, numerical systems, archetypal forms derived from traditional music practicess, as well as rhythmic strategies found in contemporary forms such as electronica, Hip Hop, Neo Soul, and various styles of Metal.

In ‘Process Dilla: Engaging with Rhythmic Forms Appearing in Contemporary Hip Hop and Neo Soul’, Simon Barker will offer a range of alternative parameters for rhythmic analysis of contemporary Neo Soul and Hip Hop, including the concept of non-hierarchical internal subdivision. A central focus of the presentation will be a series of developmental processes that he has created in order to develop an improvisational rhythmic language for both the drumset and ensemble improvisation.  Developmental processes set out in the talk include Phase Pairing, Archetype Streaming, D-Locs, and D-Loc Shifting. In addition, he will offer a procedure-based approach to developing fluency within rhythmic structures emerging in response to forms appearing in the music of D’Angelo, Kendrick Lamar, and J Dilla.

Semester 1 2014 

  1. Sergio Durante (University of Padua) – 12 March 2014
    ‘Putting periodization to use’: reflections on the idea of historical ‘periods’ in general, and on the ‘Baroque’ in particular.

The paper examines theoretical aspects of music historiography, relating them to the use and meaning of periodization in the context of recent musicological debate as well as in teaching practice. Special attention is given to selected aspects of the ‘baroque’ concept and of its periodization, in the context of music history vis-à-vis other disciplines.

  1. Michael Hooper (University of New South Wales) – 26 March 2014
    Music, Australia, and Modernism: describing compositor australiensis

This talk re-evaluates one of the dominant discourses to have emerged by the mid-1970s: the idea of an Australian Composer. I will discuss this in reference to three compositions which do not sit easily with the idea: Don Banks’ String Quartet (1975), John Exton’s third String Quartet (1969), and Richard Meale’s first String Quartet (1975). The period was one of significant change, both stylistic terms, and in terms of the infrastructure that connected composers within Australia and between Australian and the Britain. The three works are by composers who all held significant positions during the era and who are (particularly in the case of Meale and Banks) well-known composers. Yet these particular works are almost never performed or discussed. I will explain how each of the works can be understood within a modernist discourse that prizes internationalism over nationalism and I will give a sense of these works as exemplary of an ‘end of modernism.’

  1. Goetz Richter (Strings) – 9 April 2014
    Heinrich Besseler’s Philosophy of Listening

This presentation will introduce, contextualise and discuss the thinking of musicologist Heinrich Besseler (1900-1967) on the topic of musical listening. A student of the German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger, Besseler articulated his philosophical understanding of listening in two essays (Basic Questions of Musical Listening and The Musical Listening of Modernity). As Heidegger himself said surprisingly little about music Besseler’s work gives us an opportunity to reflect on the fertility of Heidegger’s approach in our attempts to articulate an authentic understanding of music and listening.

  1. Richard Toop (Emeritus Reader) – 7 May 2014
    Climbing a musical Everest: unravelling Stockhausen’s sketches for “Momente”

Towards the end of his life, Stockhausen felt that “MOMENTE is my best work, at least in terms of invention”. Though essentially completed in 1969, this massive work for solo soprano, choir and 13 instrumentalists long remained unpublished: for decades, an ideal version was beyond even the resources of the composer’s own publishing house. Yet shortly before his death, Stockhausen told his assistants “I can’t die until I have published the score of MOMENTE”, and in fact one of the two versions of the score did indeed appear just a few days before his death.

This is one of many reasons why relatively little scholarly activity has been directed to the work; there is certainly nothing very substantial. Another factor is the sketch material. A first set of multi-coloured sketches, published in part in 1971, records first strategies towards establishing a particular kind of structural framework, but can be only loosely allied to the ‘realisation score’ (of which I did have a partial copy from around 1970) from which ‘performance versions’ have to be derived. A number of intermediate sketches date from 1961/2, and it was from this that Stockhausen made draft versions of individual score pages. I was only able to access these around 2004/5. While intractable in certain respects, they fascinated me, and without wishing to be unduly fatalistic, if there’s one I’d like to do before I die, it would be to give a comprehensive account of these sketches, and of how they give rise to the score. This is a report on Work in Progress.

  1. David Larkin (Musicology) – 21 May 2014
    Mr. Bungle thinks it through: finding coherence in California (1999)

For the first-time listener, Mr. Bungle’s California (1999) will probably feel like an exercise in stylistic eclecticism. Over the course of the album, and very often within individual songs, a bewildering medley of styles is referenced by the experimental rock group, ranging from metal and pop to Middle Eastern, circus and cabaret sounds. This heterogeneity is the essential marker of the group’s identity. However, the bassist, Trevor Dunn, has distinguished the band from others who employ ‘abrupt changes of style and genre-shifting’: in his words, Bungle tries ‘to make a song work as a song’. Looking beyond the collage-like musical surface, there are indeed some elements which give their songs a sense of coherence. In this paper, I will explore how harmony and various structuring devices can help the listener to rationalise the seeming random juxtapositions.

A number of the tracks allude to aspects of traditional song structures: for instance, ‘Golem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy’ has a clear ‘refrain’ section, as does ‘Pink Cigarette’. Even in less schematic songs, repetition can be an important factor: the sprawling final track, ‘Goodbye sober day’, concludes with a varied reprise of the opening medley of styles. In a number of others the opening motives can be seen to influence the subsequent course of the music in a sophisticated fashion. For instance, in ‘RetroVertigo’, the alternation of major and augmented triads at the beginning is later transformed into a vertical juxtaposition, while the seventh chords that begin ‘Sweet Charity’ and ‘None of them knew they were robots’ undergo important metamorphoses later on. I will also investigate the so-called ‘Mr. Bungle chord’, found here and in their earlier albums and variously described as an altered power chord, or as one featuring tritones or minor seconds. Groups such as Korn have acknowledged being influenced by this signature chord, suggesting that harmony may indeed be one of the more stable points of identity within Bungle’s shape-shifting music.

  1. Linda Barwick (Associate Dean Research) – 4 June 2014
    “Innovation and tradition-making: Comparative analysis of three song corpora from the Daly Region, Northwest Australia”

This presentation adopts the framework proposed by Savage and Brown (2013) for “A New Comparative Musicology”, investigating three corpora of public dance-song from the Daly region in northwestern Australia, and particularly addressing the call to undertake comparative analyses on a regional level.

The corpora in question are djanba (Barwick et al., 2010), Walakandha wangga (Marett, Barwick & Ford, 2013; Marett 2005) and Muyil lirrga (Barwick, 2006; Ford, 2006). While various features of the corpora have been compared in previous publications (e.g. in Barwick, 2011; Marett, 2005; Marett, Barwick & Ford, 2013; Barwick, forthcoming), this presentation will draw on the first systematic cross-corpus comparison of musical features.

These corpora are good candidates for a regional comparative analysis, having been composed during the same period (1960s-1980s) within a common ceremonial framework by different ethno-linguistic groups within the region, each corpus being of the optimum sample size advocated by Savage & Brown (30-100 songs) and songs across the three corpora being used for dance and of comparable complexity and duration (1-3 minutes). Furthermore, to aid in investigation of any relevant historical and cultural factors, we have very good contextual metadata from the composers and their communities to establish the author and timeframe of composition of each song, and multiple recordings of ceremonial events over the past 50 years documenting the sequencing and admixture of individual songs and the corpora within the ceremonies.

The case study also presents some interesting challenges: composition of the relevant songs was undertaken in a climate of conscious innovation in ceremonial relationships between the three groups. Composers strove for group differentiation at the same time as forging a new shared tradition of ceremonial inter-relatedness. Both vertical and horizontal transmission within the region, extra-regional influence, polygenesis and schismogenesis—or ‘variegation’ to use linguist Nick Evans’ term for the ‘conscious fostering of linguistic and cultural diversity’ (Evans, 2010; Hiscock 2013)—have all come into play in generation and development of the currently relatively stable clusters of musical features displayed by the three corpora. The presentation will invite discussion of the extent to which similar patterns of musical change emerge from other regional comparative analyses.

Semester 2 2014 

  1. James Humberstone (Music Education) – 6 August 2014
    “The assertion of an inclusive, quintessentially Australian identity in Malcolm Williamson’s two biggest cassations.”

Often criticised for being shamelessly eclectic, Malcolm Williamson’s output ranged across a number of different compositional approaches. These included serialism, jazz, music theatre, and neoclassicism – sometimes within a single work. While his ten cassations – mini–operas designed to teach musically-untrained children the mechanics of opera – were subject to much derisive criticism, my research has shown that not only were they central to Williamson’s output, but that as a unique collection of such works by any recognised art music composer, they are highly sophisticated.

This paper will draw on new analysis and musicological research undertaken collaboratively with Dr Carolyn Philpott, the University of Tasmania. The foundation for this collaboration was found in our own PhD theses on Williamson (Philpott 2010, Humberstone 2013), and papers we have published since. It focuses on the two cassations that received the biggest performances: The Stone Wall (1971), which was premiered in London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the programme for the last night of the proms, and The Glitter Gang (1973-4), which premiered in the Sydney prom series. Each work features a moral tale Williamson wrote specially for the audience present, and I will share preliminary findings of how the story, the music, and the social circumstance combine to tell us much about Williamson’s own identity and political persuasions.

  1. Bruce Johnson (Macquarie University, University of Turku, Glasgow University) – 20 August 2014
    “The Creative Mike: Early sound technology and music aesthetics”

This presentation explores the impact of the invention of the microphone on vocal performance, in terms of creativity, aesthetics and gender politics. It will also draw this array of ideas into emerging theories of cognition, the body and technology, using models of Cognitive Ecology and Extended Mind.

  1. Lewis Cornwell (Musicology) – 3 September 2014
    ‘My Faraway Land’: Temporality and Memory in the Music of Ifukube Akira (1914–2006)

Ifukube Akira’s local cultures included those of the severely marginalised indigenous peoples of his birthplace Hokkaido, and elements of their music and traditions are explicitly referenced in his works. A component of Ifukube’s own discourse about the traditional cultures of northern Japan is a theme of both temporal and spatial distance, as evidenced by the phrase, ‘My faraway land’, which appears in the dedication of Ifukube’s Triptyque Aborigène (1937).

While the remarkable individuality of Ifukube’s earliest works gave way to a more international style in the 1940s, his works post-war are marked by a return to a more overt form of hybridity. The composer describes his Eclogues after Epos Among Ainu Races (1956) as being based on ‘memory’ of Ainu song, heightening the sense of distance, and yet it is in this work that the traditional presence is most strongly evident in the musical substance. Drawing upon the work of anthropologist Johannes Fabian, this paper traces the musical outcomes of Ifukube’s evolving personal stance in relation to the traditional cultures of northern Japan by comparing selected works of the 1930s and 1950s.

  1. Rachel Campbell (Musicology) – 17 September 2014
    Cultural Maturity, the Colonial Exotic and ‘Aboriginal’ Ghosts: Sculthorpe’s works of the 1950s and 1960s in context

The 1950s and 1960s saw developments in Australia’s political, social and cultural life that created a perceived need within ‘high’ art for the ‘search’ for and articulation of Australian national identities. In classical music, this was largely met by Peter Sculthorpe’s works of the sixties and John Antill’s ballet Corroboree (performed 1950, 1951 and 1954), as attested to by their enthusiastic and mostly widespread and positive reception among non-Indigenous Australians. This paper examines these developments in relation to Sculthorpe’s music through the lens of recent musicological theories of nationalism and some of the vast academic literature on Australian cultural history, and proposes new understandings of this period of Australian classical music history, still so often characterised as ‘the coming of age’ of Australian music.

  1. Peter Tregear (Australian National University) – 15 October 2014
    The City on Stage: Max Brand’s Maschinist Hopkins.

Opera may have become a genre predominantly by and for an urban elite, but it was not until the repertoire of the so-called Zeitoper that it became predominantly about the urban experience. Critical judgment of this repertoire, however, has been ambivalent at best. A review by Andrew Porter of a performance Max Brands’ opera Maschinist Hopkins from 2001 revived and reconfirmed an earlier judgment of David Drew from the Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association of 1961–2 that decried the work as merely ‘promiscuous modernism’, a ‘kind of chaos which may for a short time be mistaken for real innovation.’ (Reviewing the same performance, Michael Tanner, went further and suggested that by subsequently banning the opera, the Nazis only hastened a judgment that posterity would have made anyway).

Caught between such critical hostility and neglect, it is easy for music historians to down play the historical significance and influence of works like Maschinist Hopkins. In the years leading to the accession to power of the Third Reich, however, it was astonishing popular and a critical triumph. This paper argues that the foundation for its success lay in no small part in precisely its foregrounding of the kind of musical modernism that Porter and Drew had decried.  Via such means, the score exploited dramatic and sonic analogies for the experience of modern urban life (many of which derived from silent film) that enabled it to reflect and reinforce what was occurring on stage with particular force.

  1. Helen Mitchell (Musicology) – 4.30pm, 29 October 2014
    Auditioning the audition: redefining tacit knowledge in music performance evaluation.

Conservatorium music students learn traditional performance skills for the music profession, but do not learn to think critically about sound evaluation for auditions, competitions and examinations. Recent empirical evidence suggests that music assessors are not as well prepared to assess sound as they imagine, have limited vocabulary to describe what they hear and are influenced by visual and extra-musical aspects of performances. This has profound implications for future generations of musicians who are required to be expert listeners. There is a growing need to prepare tertiary level performers to think creatively, beyond the craft of performers, to be critical thinkers about musical ‘sound’.

Conservatoriums must enable music students to experience the complexities and pitfalls of performance evaluation. This paper reports an exploratory research project which is the first to challenge students’ listening acuity for performance and performer evaluation by harnessing knowledge from recent empirical testing to a real-world setting. Conservatorium performers were invited to act as auditioner and auditionee in a mock-audition. Performances were audio and video recorded, and arranged into three presentation conditions, Audio-only, Visual-only and Audio-visual. Students from the live-audition reviewed each presentation (A, V, AV) and were invited to select their top three performers.

Results of this preliminary study will be discussed with reference to recent perceptual and cognitive research on music reception and add to the existing body of knowledge on music assessment. This type of training will prepare tertiary music students to think beyond the craft of music performance, and to create and demand more robust creative assessments. It will (1) develop music students’ awareness of sound in performance, (2) equip them with skills to assess and articulate the sound of performers in discussion with other musicians and (3) enable them to explain and rationalise their performance evaluations.

Semester 1 2013 

  1. RIchard Cohn (Yale University) – 13 March 2013
    Metric States and Syntaxes in 19th-Century Music

Music theorists have sophisticated methods for comparing musical intuitions about distances between pitches, harmonies, and tonal regions, and collating those distance judgments by means of two-dimensional graphs. When it comes to metre, analogous methods are lacking. In this lecture, I introduce a method for defining and labelling metric states; assessing and comparing the distances between them; representing them on a graphic space that is analogous to that occupied by chord and keys; and using that space to record syntactic progressions between metric states. Examples of such syntactic progressions are drawn from Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, and Dvorák.

  1. Dr James Wierzbicki – 27 March 2013
    Music in the Age of Anxiety: American Music in the Fifties

The period we call The Fifties formed a ‘long decade’ during which the American nation, arguably united in its wartime concerns and efforts, found itself torn by conflict. In the self-proclaimed ‘land of the free’, the march toward racial integration was inexorable, yet on many fronts the Civil Rights Movement triggered battles as bitter as any fought during World War II. Married couples easily achieved the ‘American dream’ of life in the suburbs, but many of them suffered nightmares triggered by rampant consumerism, mind-dulling conformity, and psychologically erosive feelings of sexual inadequacy. Although the economy roared in a way that had not been witnessed since the 1920s, the nation’s prosperity was clouded over by mortal fear of nuclear holocaust. Under the utopian veneer so charmingly portrayed by television sit-coms, most Americans in The Fifties were decidedly uneasy.

Borrowing part of its title from W.H. Auden’ 1946 poem ‘The Age of Anxiety’, James Wierzbicki’s book-in-progress argues that many of the problems that during The Fifties went unspoken were—in one way or another—articulated through music. The book covers subject matter that ranges from mainstream popular music to jazz, from Hollywood to Broadway, from the opera house to the concert hall, all of it regarded through such societal ‘filters’ as the Arms Race, the Red Scare, the Cold War, race relations, and sexual politics.

  1. David R. M. Irving (University of Nottingham) – 10 April 2013
    The Global Gamut: Encounters of Scale Systems in the Early Modern World

From the sixteenth century onwards, European travellers made multiple transcriptions of musics from around the world, using Western staff notation. Encounters with other musical traditions over the following two centuries revealed striking analogies between the scale systems and solmisation practices of Europe and those from certain parts of Asia. During the ‘long’ eighteenth century, several European scholars wrote treatises on Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Chinese musics, basing their work on personal exposure to these traditions. Today, all such transcriptions and treatises provide important data for the critique of proto-ethnomusicological discourse in early modern Europe. However, a crucial point that has been overlooked in the assessment of these sources is that the musical training of early modern Europeans – the foundation for their transcription and comparative study of musics from other cultures – was based on scales in unequal temperaments, not equal temperament. Prior to the hegemonic spread of equal temperament throughout the world, beginning gradually from the mid-nineteenth century and accelerating in the twentieth, and well before the endeavours of comparative musicologists to make exact measurements of intervals using the cents system (from 1885), there appears to have been more nuance and empathy in early modern Europeans’ perceptions of other scale systems than is commonly recognised. This paper explores this issue by examining some key episodes of encounter and engagement between different systems of music theory in the early modern world.

  1. Kathy Marsh – 8 May 2013
    Musical meaning, transmission and performance in the lives of children

This paper focuses on conveying children’s perspectives and the importance of understanding what it is that children do with, and like about, music within a global environment that has increasingly enabled the proliferation of music from widely divergent cultural contexts. It will exemplify ways in which children receive, respond to, manage, appropriate, manipulate and generate a plethora of musical stimuli that permeate their world. In doing so, they make aesthetic choices that demonstrate the cultural complexity of their musical world/s, drawing on the cultural, ethnic, religious and national contexts in which they live, and utilising various forms of technological media. In this paper a number of similarities and differences between the musical play of children from different cultures are examined. These include rhythmic, kinaesthetic and melodic features, and transmission processes. Particular reference will be made to children’s musical play in multi-ethnic settings, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from earlier studies, including those conducted in Australia, the UK, USA, Norway, and Korea and on a current study of refugee and newly arrived immigrant children in Australia. The paper explores the place of music in acculturation processes, and ways in which refugee and immigrant children participate in musical activities to negotiate social relationships within “situations of social uncertainty” (Cross & Woodruff, 2009).

  1. Charles Fairchild – 22 May
    Listening to The Grey Album Ten Years Later: Musical Fidelity and Aesthetic Legitimacy in the Public Sphere

In 2004, the distribution of DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album produced an unlikely watershed in the struggle over online creative practice. The album’s so-called ‘suppression’ inspired widespread civil disobedience and brought a series of contests and conflicts over creative autonomy in the online world to mainstream prominence. However, given that most of the discussion of this album has centred around its ambiguous legal status, there still remains a general lack of understanding regarding its aesthetic characteristics. This is important as the conflict over this album struck at the very legitimacy of a long recognised and valued form of musical expression and creativity: the reinterpretation of the work of one composer by another.

We can gain important insights into what are purported to be new models of cultural production by examining how the cornerstone idea of ‘musical fidelity’ relates to the continuing debates over what count as recognised and ‘allowable’ uses of new aesthetic and technological forms. Despite the fact that many people made unsustainable claims as to its innovative and even revolutionary character, it is clear that The Grey Album is not revolutionary at all. Instead it is part of a complex and familiar lineage of musical practice defined by extensive and inventive musical borrowing and juxtaposition. Analysis of The Grey Album shows clearly that is part of a long and varied aesthetic tradition defined by what Thomas Porcello has called an ‘extractive’ mode of musical practice.

  1. Annegret Fauser (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) – 5 June 2013
    Cosmopolitan Nationalism: Foreigners in Paris in the Long Nineteenth Century

Foreign musicians played a vital role in the shaping of Parisian identities in the course of the political and cultural shifts of the long nineteenth century, straddling nationalist and cosmopolitan concerns. Approaching the issue from three perspectives, I will start with the epistemological challenges of speaking about foreigners before engaging with a case study, Richard Wagner’s first Parisian sojourn between 1839 and 1842. I conclude with a return to more theoretical questions of historiographical contextualization.

Semester 2 2013 

  1. Alan Maddox – 7 August 2013
    “Affettuoso ancora”: Emotional expression in F.A. Calegari’s Padua Passion setting of 1718

Studies of the expression of emotion in 17th- and early 18th-century European music have typically focused on either the compositional rhetoric of German sacred music and French Airs, or the performative rhetoric of Italian opera. More difficult to access in musical terms is the emotional world of Catholic liturgical music, constrained as it was by the established repertoire of Gregorian chant and by strict liturgical traditions. A rare window into this world is provided by an enigmatic set of part books held in the musical archives of the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, Italy, which contain an apparently unique type of Passion setting, not known in any other Italian sources, by Francesco Antonio Calegari (1656-1742). In the first half of the 18th century, the Basilica of St Anthony was an important centre of music theory and performance, and boasted an orchestra led by Tartini and a cappella of sixteen professional singers. Calegari’s innovative settings of Christ’s words in quasi-theatrical recitative, rather than in the usual chant or polyphony, and for soprano rather than bass, provide a rare insight into this important school of Italian sacred music of the period, and make a fascinating comparison with the almost exactly contemporary Lutheran passions of J.S. Bach. The well-preserved musical and administrative archives of the Basilica also make it possible to reconstruct much of the musical and liturgical context for Calegari’s settings, and to suggest how, and even by whom, his apparently unique settings might have been performed.

  1. Peter Keller (University of Western Sydney) – 21 August 2013
    Determinants of skill as an ensemble performer: A psychological perspective

Musical ensemble performance is a pristine social art form that places exceptional demands upon the cognitive and motor capacities of co-performers. A remarkable feature of ensemble performance is the exquisite balance that individuals are able to achieve between precision and flexibility in interpersonal coordination. My talk will address the psychological processes and brain mechanisms that enable such coordination. First I will outline a theoretical framework and empirical approach for studying factors that determine the quality of ensemble cohesion. Then I will describe key findings of research on the role of individual differences in cognitive-motor ensemble skills (anticipation, attention, and adaptation), social-psychological factors (personality), and the performer’s knowledge about the music and familiarity with co-performers.

  1. Diane Collins – 4 September 2013
    Writing a history of the Conservatorium: Pleasures, Pitfalls, Challenges and Regrets

Diane Collins’ Sounds from the Stables was the first published history of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In a candid reflection, Diane talks about her motives for accepting the many challenges which the book posed, the contexts in which this long overdue history was commissioned, the ways in which she imagined the book’s readers and the possible uses of this history, the agony and ecstasy of the research process and her regrets as well as the pleasures in completing what she found to be a totally fascinating project.

  1. Christopher Coady – 18 September 2013
    John Lewis and the Challenge of “Real” Black Music

In this talk I will seek to critically revise understanding of jazz pianist and composer John Lewis’ embrace of Western art music conventions during the first decade of his leadership of the Modern Jazz Quartet. I will show that mainstream critical assumptions regarding Lewis’ output – namely that it is an affront to the jazz genre both sonically and in the spirit of its design – can be challenged by taking into account vernacular preservation strategies enacted in the wake of the 1940s big band decline, the various conceptions of African-American identity that framed the emergence of Lewis’ music and the liberating effect bestowed by the European “gaze” on African-American’s who travelled to and performed on the Continent following World War II. Ultimately, I hope to lay the foundation in this discussion for ways of understanding African-American music that transcend monolithic paradigms of the past.

  1. Amanda Harris – 16 October 2013
    Hearing Aboriginal Music Making in Non-Indigenous Accounts of the Bush from the mid- 20th century

In the field diaries of the 1948 American-Australian Expedition to Arnhem Land, diarists recorded their impressions of Aboriginal music drifting into their auditory space from the camps both near and distant to their own. Over the course of the nine-month Expedition, the non-Indigenous participants’ ability to ‘hear’ and understand this music grew in parallel with their understanding of the cultures of Arnhem Land. Their hearing of this foreign music mimics, in many ways, the use of Indigenous singing and playing as a trope in novels of the period, particularly those of Mary Durack, Eleanor Dark and Katharine Susannah Prichard. In this presentation, I will explore the way music was heard as a means of understanding difference and alienation in bush settings in the mid-century.  I will compare these literary expressions of difference to musical ones composed in a related period.

  1. Graeme Skinner – 30 October 2013
    The invention of Australian music and music in (early colonial) Australia

From surprisingly early in colonial history, settler Australians self-consciously envisaged the emergence of their own “national music”, alongside a variety of other idealised Australian traits. Seen as both compositional product and cultural practice, a distinctive settler “Australian music” was to arise out of a blending of English, Scottish and Irish cultural and ethnic antecedents, “native” geographical and developing social and political determinants, and was to be actively encouraged as a means of public education, community and moral advancement, and nation building. Meanwhile, as settlers contrived a musical culture and economy in their own image, a separately-defined Indigenous “Australian music” became increasingly irrelevant to their aspirations and interests. This paper also considers the failure of this colonial venture to register in international musical or Australian national historiography, despite its achievement of some of its apparent objectives.

Semester 1 2012 

  1. Richard Toop, Honorary Reader, Musicology
    “What’s in a name?”: Towards a Genealogy and Taxonomy of New Music Titles

The titles that post-war composers have given to their works have long been a source of (often disapproving) comment. Conservative commentators in particular have asked why, when there were perfectly good and tested titles like sonata, suite, symphony etc., a composer should want to call a purely instrumental work something like Metastasis, Pithoprakta or Acchoripsis (to cite some early Xenakis titles). Conversely, many radically orientated composers have been inclined to say, ‘who, these days, would seek to taint their reputation by using superannuated work titles?’The present paper seeks, however provisionally, not only to outline the nature and intentions of such titles over the past fifty years or more, but equally to locate the preferences of individual composers within perspectives that are both individual and collective, but also synchronic and diachronic, genealogical and taxonomic. Adorno once wrote “Nothing is harmless anymore”. Maybe that even applies to work titles too.

  1. Daniel Grimley, University of Oxford
    Delius and the Sound of Place: Hearing ‘Song of the High Hills’

2012 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Delius, and this paper focuses on one of Delius’s richest but most critically neglected works: The Song of the High Hills for orchestra and chorus (1911-2). I examine the music’s compositional genesis, critical reception, and its relationship with other works no less preoccupied with ideas of place, including Appalachia and The Mass of Life. Conventionally heard (following Thomas Beecham and Eric Fenby) as an account of a walking tour in the Norwegian mountains, The Song of the High Hills in fact offers a more multilayered response to landscape and nature. Moving beyond purely pictorial notions of landscape representation, I shall draw from recent literature in cultural geography to account for the music’s ambivalent sense of place. Hearing The Song of the High Hills from this perspective promotes a keener understanding of our phenomenological engagement with sound and the natural environment, and underscores the parallels between Delius’s work and contemporary developments in continental philosophy, notably the writing of Henri Bergson.

  1. Joseph Toltz, Musicology
    Hidden Testimony: musical experience and memory in Jewish Holocaust survivors

Considering music as a feature of testimony is not a new endeavour in the field of Holocaust studies. The collection of musical memories and songs of those times began as early as 1945, with individual zamlers (song collectors) such as Szmerke Kaczerginski, and ethnographers such as David Boder and Israel Adler. For the past fourteen years, I have also undertaken a similar project of sorts, collecting musical testimonies from over ninety survivors in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel. My interviewee subjects were asked to focus primarily (but not exclusively) on musical experience in the period 1939-1945, in camp, ghetto, hiding or partisan groups, as well as contextualising and reflecting their personal musical backgrounds before, during, and afterwards. Throughout this process, survivors spoke not only of extant melodies and experiences, but also added subtle and significant nuances to existing knowledge as well as adding to the general body of musical experience with new works and newly described musical experiences. Interviews were conducted in English, and songs collected in Yiddish, Czech, German, Polish, Hebrew, Hungarian, French and Russian.

Musical experience and its memory is a unique testimonial construct, arguably distinct from the more judicial process of historical testimony. From the earliest accounts arising out of the Holocaust, to recollections from survivors 65 years after the events, it speaks in a profoundly subjective manner about many difference life experiences during times of trauma. Whereas the musical form in testimony can complement and add nuance to historical readings of the Holocaust, musical testimony as a theoretical construct and practice can offer the possibility of new approaches to the Holocaust, treating survivors as living rather than dying witnesses, and preserving the Holocaust in perhaps the most durable form of testimony itself: narrative song.

  1. Neal Peres da Costa, Early Music
    The Lost World of espressivo Playing

In 1953, the Hungarian pianist Etelka Freund (1879-1977) recorded Johannes Brahms’s Piano Sonata in F minor Op. 5 for Remington. Freund had a strong association with Brahms having met him every week for a year in 1895, during which she played his music to him and received his advice. When I first heard her performance of the second movement—Andante espressivo—I was immediately moved and transported by her exquisitely lyrical touch, which I felt was greatly enhanced by her employment of expressive devices that are undoubtedly rooted in nineteenth-century practice. For me there was a strong feeling that the term espressivo had somehow given Freund permission to be free in a way that is scorned in modern mainstream performance today.
This talk uses Freund’s performance as a springboard for exploring the implications—the hidden or lost meanings—of the term espressivo not only for Brahms’s music but also for the nineteenth century and earlier. Recorded examples of the oldest pianists on record together with a range of written evidence will be presented as a window to a lost world of espressivo playing.

  1. David Larkin, Musicology
    ‘That way madness lies’: sanity, syntax and structure in Strauss’s Don Quixote

Richard Strauss’s tone poem Don Quixote (1897), a musical response to Cervantes’s famous novel, is crucially concerned with the representation of the titular character’s madness. The work was envisaged from the outset as a set of ‘mad, free variations’, but these are bordered by an Introduction and Finale, respectively representations of the period before Quixote loses his reason, and the recovery of his wits before his death. As such, Strauss has erected a frame of sanity around the picaresque adventures, answering the contemporary need for some gestures of tonal and formal stability to anchor the otherwise pervasive chromaticism and structural fluidity. In this article, I explore the technical means by which Strauss suggests these opposing values of order and disorder. This is done through three analyses, which focus on a short phrase, an extended section, and the entire work respectively. It will be shown that the level of control grows ever weaker as the transgressive inner portion grows in size and autonomy. Strauss thus both invokes the idea of closure and calls into question its efficacy. As such, this tone poem provides an imaginative enactment of the formal and tonal challenges facing composers at the fin de siècle, issues which it problematizes rather than attempts to solve. The strategies he employs will be explored in the context of attitudes to insanity over the long nineteenth century, both as a social reality and as represented in artistic practices. The figure of Don Quixote, an object of fascination for the Romantics, might be seen as a projection of one aspect of the composer’s subjectivity, a comic, self-mocking alter ego as a counterbalance to the overblown self-portrait found in Ein Heldenleben (1898), to which it was conceived as a companion piece.

  1. Anna Reid, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning
    Creativity, Creation and Contrasts: Actions and perceptions

Musicians, and others, have implicit understandings of the role of creative thinking and activity for their practice. For some a person is deemed creative, for others it is a product that is so deemed, and for others it is the process through which the product is formed. These views impact on pedagogical approaches and outcomes when they are conflated with assessment. In this presentation we will look at the intersections between creativity theories and practice and contrast the implications of these theories using, dare I say it, evidence from ‘non-creative’ disciplines and ‘creative’ ones. The evidence presented comes as the result of a decade long research project involving the fields of music, statistics, business, sustainability and law.

Semester 2 2012 

  1. Kathleen Nelson, Musicology
    Braga, Toledo and Seville: The Example of the Exultet

The re-establishment and development of the dioceses of Toledo and Braga during the late eleventh century and of Seville during the mid thirteenth century naturally led to the gathering of manuscripts for the celebration of the liturgy. Although not always readily identified with a particular church and rarely with precise dating, remaining manuscript sources provide some evidence for practices of the early centuries and for understanding of transmission of practices. This paper focuses on the Easter vigil prayer known as the Exultet as an example, and looks at its occurrences in manuscripts from the three centres discussing early traces of melodic practice in these centres. The Exultet melody as found in Braga’s Missal of Mateus (Braga, Arquivo Distrital, MS 1000) provides a particularly interesting example for the discussion which will include its manner of notation and the nature of its melody.

  1. Goetz Richter, Strings
    Music vs Philosophy: New lights on an old quarrel

This paper will take its starting point from Plato’s identification of the “ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry”, a quarrel that has always and often embroiled music (and musicians!). I will try to show that such a quarrel is entirely unnecessary and in fact fundamentally confused. In the place of aggressive combat I will be outlining a view of an erotic attraction between music and philosophy, arguing for an elective affinity and a yearning of a special kind that has inspired musicians and philosophers from time to time. While music is often conceived as a non-conceptual art of inspiration involving emotion and is pitched against philosophy as a triumphant discipline of reason and conceptualisation, plenty of evidence points the other way and towards entirely different characteristics, yielding surprising results for both endeavours. I progress my argument with particular reference to Plato, Parmenides, Schopenhauer, Hanslick, Beethoven, Wagner, Nietzsche, Thomas Mann and Adorno.

  1. Hugh de Ferranti
    Other Sounds Within: Music and intercultural experience in pre-war Japan

In Japan of the 1920s-‘30s cosmopolitan tendencies were only rarely at odds with cultural nationalism and the ethno-racial hierarchy that underpinned Japan’s imperial and colonial project. If modern East Asia was to be led by Japan, then as a matter of course its people would be accorded Japanese nationality (albeit in qualified form), be they ethnically Korean, Han or indigenous Taiwanese, ‘Okinawan’ or Ainu. Their lifeways and traditional artforms moreover would add to the cultural inventory of the Japanese empire, a garland of historical and modernday phenomena from numerous societies. The music and dance of colonial peoples and ‘home islands’ minorities alike were presented, represented and at times appropriated in ways that affirmed the contemporary ethnic hierarchy, paradoxically exoticising the ‘Other Japanese’ and emphasising their pre-modernity, while celebrating their inclusion as imperial subjects who shared the fruits of an East Asian colonial modernity. This presentation will introduce a range of contexts for Japanese people’s experience of the musics of ‘Japanese’ of other ethnicities, discuss qualitative differences in those encounters, and also touch on the nature of intercultural experience among musicians of Japan’s minorities and colonised peoples.

  1. Michael Halliwell, Associate Dean of Research
    Finding and Giving Voice in Operatic Adaptation: A Streetcar Named Desire and Sophie’s Choice

In operatic adaptation the concept of the retention of authorial voice might be seen as problematic, perhaps even more so when the final adapted work has been refracted through a series of earlier intermedial adaptations. In film adaptation, the translation of authorial voice is mainly the task of the director, while in opera a more oblique, yet equally significant role is played primarily by the orchestral music. Through the ‘narrating orchestra’ a composer, like a film director, can direct and focus the response of the audience. In the adaptation of fiction into opera, authorial voice in the source work often finds a less precise yet analogous operatic presence. When a spoken drama is adapted into opera, however, the musical realization imposes a form of ‘novelisation’ on the original work, and an authorial voice not apparent in the source work emerges. This paper considers current theories of operatic adaptation through the investigation of the adaptation of two recent operas with celebrated literary works as their sources, both of which have significant films as intermediate stages in the journey to the operatic stage. In A Streetcar Named Desire, the film directed by Elia Kazan (1951) of Tennessee Williams play (1947) certainly plays a pivotal role in the subsequent operatic adaptation by Andre Previn (1998). Similarly, the mesmerizing performance by Meryl Streep in Alan J Pakula’s (1982) film adaptation of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice (1979) inflects the operatic version by Nicholas Maw (2002).

  1. Roy Howatt, Royal College of Music
    Debussy Reconsidered on his 150th Anniversary

The last 50 years have seen a radical reappraisal of Claude Debussy and his music. Newly discovered songs, early orchestral works, and early and late piano pieces, plus completions of unfinished works, have illuminated some of the more private corners of his composing world (most notably Robert Orledge’s skilled completions of the two planned short Poe operas). Critical editions have clarified Debussy’s notation and intentions, shining a spotlight on the meticulous precision inherent in his musical notation, including aspects of this that were long obscured by engraving conventions (some of which the Œuvres complètes de Claude Debussy have modified in the interests of clarifying and conveying Debussy’s manuscript intentions). Recordings of Debussy’s playing have also fed interestingly into this field. New biographical data and published correspondence have revealed much about his working life and the intellectual friendships that fed into his creative work. Perhaps the busiest field of all has been that of musical analysis, showing all manner of logic in Debussy’s compositional processes of which there was much less idea half a century ago. For several decades Roy Howat has taken a leading role in all these fields: as one of the founding editors of the Œuvres complètes de Claude Debussy, as a performer whose practical experience has both fed into the new edition and been nourished by its scholarly findings; and as a determined analyst, whose hunches in the 1970s about proportional patterns in Debussy’s symphonic structures led to the influential book Debussy in proportion (Cambridge UP, 1983). All these approaches are covered by Roy Howat’s recent book The Art of French Piano Music: Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Chabrier (Yale UP, 2009), which charts our much more focussed view in recent years of a very focussed composer, also placing him in the context of three of his most influential musical compatriots. This book gained numerous citations including the award ‘2009 Book of the Year’ from International Piano.

  1. Peter McCallum, Academic Board
    “‘Pulled together from various bits and pieces’: Last minute decisions in the sketches for Beethoven’s String Quartet in C sharp minor, Opus 131”

On the evidence of the surviving sketches and manuscripts, the String Quartet in C # minor, opus 131, is one of the most heavily revised works of Beethoven’s entire output. The labyrinthine path of decision making that led to its unorthodox seven-movement structure and use of fugue, unified by a recurring idea hat was something of a leitmotif for Beethoven’s late works, can be traced in all its complexity in the surviving sketches which form one of the most complete documentations of Beethoven’s compositional process that have survived. The wealth of material has fascinated scholars since the work’s completion though it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that Robert Winter established a coherent picture of the relationship of this work to that which immediately followed, Beethoven’s last String Quartet in F major, Opus 135. This talk surveys the chief decision points in the work’s creation including evidence from the final manuscript which was not available to Winter. The result was a work that Beethoven regarded as his finest quartet, an evaluation shared by many subsequently.

Semester 1 2011 

  1. Jonathan Stock (Associate Dean, Research)
    Pig-killing, beer-drinking, collective prayer and communal musical performance: sharing values and valuing shared experience in a Taiwanese aboriginal village
  2. David Larkin, Musicology
    ‘One of the past’: Richard Strauss’s self-image and the dynamics of history
  3. Chris Coady, Musicology
    AfroModernist subversion of the jazz deviance trope in the French film noir scores of John Lewis and Miles Davis
  4. James Wierzbicki, Arts Music
    Shedding Light on a Sydney Oddity: In Search of Alexander B. Hector’s Colour-Organ
  5. Michael Webb, Music Education
    Music liturgies, the Lutheran social imaginary, and encountering Pentecostalism in the postmissionary church in Lae, Papua New Guinea
  6. Rachel Campbell, Musicology
    ‘This Music Evokes Australia’s Loneliness’: Landscape music’s Australian inflections

Semester 2 2011 

  1. John Griffiths, University of Melbourne
    Spinacino’s Twelve-tone experiment of 1507
  2. Alan Maddox, Musicology
    “Ah! che fier tumulto d’affetti!” Affect and expression in the performance of Italian recitative
  3. Keith Howard, SCM and SOAS
    Exploring the Politics of Collaboration: Bridging the Scholarly Divide in the Kyrgyz Manas Epic
  4. Lewis Cornwell, Musicology
    Ifukube Akira and Japanese exoticism
  5. Charles Fairchild, Arts Music
    An Endless Torrent of Sound from a Seemingly Empty Room: Understanding the Mediation of Music
  6. Helen Mitchell, Research Unit
    Do you need to see me to hear me? How listeners recognise performers