Musicology Colloquium Series
Show Semester 1
1. RIchard Cohn – 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 – 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 – 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
8. Peter Keller – 21 August 2013
Determinants of skill as an ensemble performer: A psychological perspective
9. Diane Collins – 4 September 2013
Writing a history of the Conservatorium: Pleasures, Pitfalls, Challenges and Regrets
10. Christopher Coady – 18 September 2013
John Lewis and the Challenge of “Real” Black Music
11. Rachel Campbell – 16 October 2013
Culturally Nationalist Historiography and the ‘Birth’ of Australian Musical Identity: How one view of history shaped our understanding of Australian musical creativity
12. Graeme Skinner – 30 October 2013
The invention of Australian music and music in (early colonial) Australia
Show Semester 1
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.
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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.
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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