Our students at the Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School

SCM MMASS 2016

Sydney Conservatorium of Music students and Dr David Larkin, Senior Lecturer in Musicology, at the Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School in late November.

An exciting new event on the scholarly calendar in the last few years has been the Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School. The brainchild of Dr Matthew Lorenzon (Monash), it brings together students, composers and academics interested in probing the technical aspects of music: how it was put together and how it works. Since it is very important that students of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music be able to participate in these events, the SCM has generously offered a number of studentships annually. This year, a dozen SCM students were awarded bursaries covering the costs of the conference and accommodation at Medley Hall. It has been a joy to see them participate, whether through asking questions of lecturers, getting involved in passionate discussions over the coffee breaks, or presenting their own analytical research at the micro-symposium. The benefits of participating will be evident from the students’ own accounts below.

Dr David Larkin, Senior Lecturer in Musicology

Alisa Bernhard (MMus, Piano Performance)

For any serious music student, whether interested primarily in musicology, composition or performance, MMASS was definitely a week to be excited about. The summer school provided us with an opportunity to listen to and engage in conversation with lecturers and other students interested in talking about the musicking experience — not only to discuss the topics from the lectures, but to give voice to ideas triggered by these topics, to vent our musical enthusiasms and create soulmates or enemies, and to expose our own theses and receive feedback: all this over coffee and delicious Melbourne donuts.

I was introduced to new pieces and became more intimate with music I had only known superficially. Listening was an important component in most lectures: having been intoxicated by Parsifal, we would solemnly break bread together at lunch, or eat ice cream and chill while thinking of the symphonies of Sibelius. One of my revelations came from the combination of reading Schenker and being exposed for a second time to Neo-Riemannian theory: it has made me think about harmony more in terms of voice-leading, not just functional harmony exclusively based on root movement. Now those non-triads in the Franck Sonata make (more) sense!

Each person would have gleaned a different message from the week. For me, the variety in approaches offered by the courses and the diversity in tastes and interests of the participants seemed to shed light onto the question, “what does it mean to, and how can we get to know, understand, appreciate a performance or piece of music?” Answer: listen, read, think, talk, listen, feel.

Andrea Calihanna (MMus, Musicology)

Attending the Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School has been one of the highlights of my year. My objective in attending MMASS was to learn more about the most modern techniques of musical analysis and to revisit established analytical practices. My goals were met and as I had hoped I incorporated what I learnt into my music curriculum research paper which I presented at MMASS. This paper will become part of my Master of Music (Musicology) thesis and it will also be the foundation of a presentation I will give at Meter Symposium 2 in 2017.  At MMASS we had the opportunity to attend short courses, lectures and classes by leading music theorists and analysts and also the privilege of listening to other students present their research. In this relaxed atmosphere, it was possible to chat informally with academics and students from Australia and overseas about their work and to be inspired to continue in the fascinating work of music research and analysis. A wonderful experience!

Gabriella Vici (BMus, Composition)

I am confident that I wouldn’t be alone is concluding that the 2016 Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School was a fantastic success, and an overwhelmingly positive experience for those involved. We were fortunate enough to have learnt from world-renowned analysts and experts in their fields (such as Battell Professor of Music Theory at Yale University, Richard Cohn), and partake in an environment that offered the chance for continued conversation and discussion outside the bounds of the lectures themselves with teachers and students alike, from across the country and, indeed, the globe. The content was so diversified and explored in such depth that it allowed for both the extension of the knowledge we already had from the Con, as well as exposure to fields that, for some of us, were relatively unchartered, or entirely new.

The student micro-symposium was similarly a fantastic opportunity to engage with the work of fellow students, and for me personally, offered the chance to present a paper of my own; in itself an wholly unique and utterly invaluable opportunity. I’m sure that for many of us, this experience will, or has already, positively influenced our own practice, be it directly in our own analyses, or more abstractly in performance or composition. MMASS exposed us to avenues for further thought and consideration of which we might otherwise have been unaware, not only generously contributing to our practical analytical skill-set, but provoking the deeper channels of thought that lay the groundwork for that which we have not yet explored.

Elizabeth Younan (MMus, Composition)

The Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School proved to be a highly beneficial course that has aided me in my compositional practice. The school provided me with analytical tools and compositional techniques that I was then able to apply, adapt, and subvert in my own modus operandi. I was exposed to new analytical methodologies in a variety of musical styles and genres that I may not have otherwise encountered for a while on my own seeking. This awakening has allowed me to not only listen to certain music in a new light, but it has also allowed me to consider new ways of constructing music for my compositional practice. I was also fortunate enough to be able to present my thoughts on a work in the student micro-symposium, enabling me to gain experience in speaking in front of an audience, and was thus exposed to new and informed opinions concerning my research. Ultimately, being able to interact with music analysis and theory experts, as well as other peers who share this keen enthusiasm, proved to be an invaluable experience in not only gaining knowledge but also in meeting students from around Australia with similar interests and academic goals.