Musicology Colloquium Series
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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.
2. 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.’
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 (all lectures start at 4pm unless otherwise stated)
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7. James Humberstone (Music Education) – 6 August 2014
“The assertion of an inclusive, quintessentially
British 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
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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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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).
5. 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.
6. 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.
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7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
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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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Show Semester 2
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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).
11. 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.
12. 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.
Show Semester 1
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
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7. John Griffiths, University of Melbourne
Spinacino’s Twelve-tone experiment of 1507
8. Alan Maddox, Musicology
“Ah! che fier tumulto d’affetti!” Affect and expression in the performance of Italian recitative
9. Keith Howard, SCM and SOAS
Exploring the Politics of Collaboration: Bridging the Scholarly Divide in the Kyrgyz Manas Epic
10. Lewis Cornwell, Musicology
Ifukube Akira and Japanese exoticism
11. Charles Fairchild, Arts Music
An Endless Torrent of Sound from a Seemingly Empty Room: Understanding the Mediation of Music
12. Helen Mitchell, Research Unit
Do you need to see me to hear me? How listeners recognise performers
The assertion of an inclusive, quintessentially
British Australian identity in Malcolm Williamson’s two biggest cassations.