School of Music

Research Seminar Series

Alessandro Pittorino - Organ

As part of our research, we have developed a series of seminars covering a broad range of musical areas.

Semester 2 2016

All seminars are held on Tuesdays, commencing at 5.00pm in the Tunley Lecture Theatre.

Topics will be added as they become available.


Special Graduation Celebration


Clint Bracknell Sydney Conservatorium of Music - Wam Keniny (Doing a different kind of cultural dance): Studying Nyungar Song

As a Nyungar researcher, I completed doctoral investigation of the aesthetics and sustainability of Nyungar song from Western Australia’s southwest, proving the diminished but continued transmission of Nyungar song and providing the most detailed descriptions of Nyungar musical traditions to date. I found space to conduct this study via engagement with Western academia, demanding interrogation of its place within ethnomusicology.


Eva-Marie Perissinotto - Sounds of Another Age: Evaluating an Early Twentieth Century Recording of Tudor Choral Music

Performances of early choral music from before 1960 are often dismissed as being of poor aesthetic quality, but does the recorded evidence really warrant that label? In this presentation we will listen to a recording from the 1920s as well as one made today, and investigate exactly where they differ as well as what qualities they share.


Rosalind Appleby - The Rise of Australian Women Composers

In the early twentieth century, being a female composer was a dangerous game; one composer was diagnosed as mentally insane by her psychiatrist husband, several achieved success only after their divorces, and often the only way to get their music published was to lie about their gender. Still, the allure of writing music enticed women from all walks of life, and from the convent and the nappy-change table women began to compose.   This presentation takes a fresh look at Australia's history and makes some startling discoveries about the contribution of women to Australian classical music. Drawing on research from her book Women of Note Rosalind puts together the missing pieces of history, sharing music and stories from women composers spanning the twentieth century to present day.    


CANCELLED:  Christopher Tonkin and Adam Pinto


Dobormila Jaskot and Dominik Karski

Dobromila Jaskot - Voice and Instrument: Organic Merging 

The closest relation between the performer and the instrument in Dobromila Jaskot’s works is the subject of the presentation. It concerns a search for merged ways of expressivity by a human as an instrumental performer. How to devise a hierarchy within a single complex instrumental part? What does ‘organic’ mean? What does ‘human expressivity’ mean? Where is the limit of articulation possibilities?

Dominik Karski  - Flute Physicality

Dominik Karski’s presentation focuses on his flute works, as collaborations with flautists specialising in new music have formed a significant thread in his creative work. The main aim of the talk is to illustrate how composer-performer collaboration and in-depth research into performance techniques can inform a compositional approach where the physicality of sound production is the primary source of the musical substance.

27 SEPTEMBER - Study Break

HDR Forum


James Ledger - Shakespeare and the electric guitar

I was commissioned to write a work for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The resultant work "Hollow Kings", is a four-movement work that explores and responds to speeches given by four of Shakespeare's kings. The orchestration includes electric guitar. I thought of this instrument as a modern-day lute, an instrument that was symbolically significant in the Elizabethan era.  In the work, I have drawn parallels with the modern-day instrument and it's ancestor through references in Shakespeare's plays.


Louise Devenish - Topic TBA


Christina Davies - Arts Engagement and Mental Wellbeing

How many hours of arts engagement is linked to good mental wellbeing?  Dr Christina Davies, will discuss her research into quantifying the relationship between recreational arts engagement and mental wellbeing and then canvas how these results have been used as an advocacy and evaluation tool.
Dr Christina Davies is a Research Fellow at the School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia. Her multi-award winning research relates to the fields of ‘arts and health’, mental health and health promotion evaluation. Christina has worked in both academic and market research settings to evaluate programs for arts organisations, health organisations, government and industry. She has experience in both qualitative and quantitative research techniques and qualifications in public health, psychology and the arts. Her PhD was titled “Healthy arts? Exploring the relationship between arts engagement and population health”. Christina is also a passionate visual artist, with interests in painting and photography.


Philip Murray (DMA Lecture-Recital) - French Symbolist affinities in a late work of Toru Takemitsu: an examination of And then I knew ‘twas Wind for flute, viola and harp.

Toru Takemitsu acknowledged Debussy as a major influence, yet evidence of this influence in Takemitsu’s music is not as obvious as is often assumed. Philip Murray’s DMA research examines various aspects of Takemitsu’s late style, taking as its starting point a comparison between And then I knew ‘twas Wind and Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp. It will be suggested that an understanding of the impact of French Symbolist theories of poetic language on Debussy’s musical style can offer new insights into Takemitsu’s aesthetics.


Honours Presentations I


Martyn Evans, Trevelyan College, University of Durham - Death, Music and the Ineffable

The plausible view that music conveys the ineffable was as widely-held in the nineteenth-century as it was before or since. This paper offers the suggestion that through some nineteenth-century metaphysical conjectures, death – improbably – offers a clue to understanding music’s ineffability.

Music’s intrinsic ineffability, part of the larger problem of music and meaning, is adroitly caught in Mendelssohn’s dictum that music is ‘too definite to be put into words’. But music is also a response to a wider, extrinsic, ineffability. If the ineffable emerges within experience – things that we just know, yet know (or can say) little or nothing about – it also frames our finitude. In particular, death is an event outside our experience (outside life, as Wittgenstein has it). Our experience arises without antecedents and disappears without remainder. One response to this finitude is a sense of wonder; another is, on occasion, the production of music.

We can explore this link fruitfully through Schopenhauer’s ambitious metaphysics. Proceeding from Kant, Schopenhauer reasoned his way to the inaccessible (and ineffable) ‘noumenon,’ the timeless reality that must underlie the ordinary ‘phenomenal’ world of everyday experience. If in birth we somehow fall out of the noumenal into the phenomenal, then in death we are dissolved back into it. Beyond this we can say almost nothing – yet in music, Schopenhauer believed (along with a substantial cohort within nineteenth-century metaphysics of music), we directly and uniquely glimpse the noumenal: music’s uniqueness among the arts lies chiefly here.

But from this it seems that in music we glimpse also our own post-dissolution destiny: music comprises existential songs of finite experience and transcendental songs of dissolution into the ineffable.
I shall try to elucidate and defend this provocative claim.

Honours Presentations II


Honours Presentations III

2016 Callaway Lecture

Martyn Evans, Trevelyan College, University of Durham

Time and date

  • 7pm
  • Wednesday 19 October