Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music – The ‘Instrument of Romance’: Guitars and Guitar-Playing in Australian Musical Entertainment, Culture and Society Before the Jazz Age

Date/Time: Thu 18 May / 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location: Room N602, 6th Floor, Menzies Building


Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music Research Seminars

Presented by Professor John Whiteoak

This paper explores the early history of transplantation of guitar culture to Australia and reveal it as surprisingly complex, multi-faceted and richly deserving of further research from social, musical other perspectives. These include the influence of British, Italian, German, Hawaiian, and Spanish, guitar-playing traditions, the guitar as an art-song accompaniment and solo concert instrument and the spread of American banjo, mandolin and guitar club’ culture. I describe how guitar-playing was widely gendered as a homely, essential female accomplishment, while also becoming emblematic of a part-imagined Spain and other romantic locations and events through literature, poetry and theatrical productions as ‘The Instrument of Romance’

Dr John Whiteoak is an Adjunct Professor in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music Monash University. He has published on numerous aspects of music and dance in colonial and twentieth century Australia, including a monograph history of improvisation, and was co-editor of the Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia (2003). His interest in the early history of the ‘Spanish guitar’ in Australia has come out of extensive research into the history of Spain-associated influences on colonial-era and twentieth century Australian musical entertainment for a monograph in preparation.

For further information, please contact
Paul Watt
990 53634

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