Postgraduate Profiles

Carmen Chan, PhD student in Composition

Supervisors: Associate Professor Thomas Reiner, Dr Catherine Schieve

I have commenced a research project looking at how unconventional notation acts as a guide to improvisation. This originated from my experience as a performer in percussion, which eventually led to score-making and, in a broader sense, composition.

After almost ten years combined at the University of Melbourne and Musikhögskolan i Piteå, plus having a break and a daughter, I chose to study at Monash because of the flexibility it offers at this stage of my life. I have found the environment supportive and open, and I am looking forward to the discoveries and challenges of my journey.

Katrina Dowling, MA student in Musicology

Supervisors: Dr Graeme Smith, Dr Paul Watt

I am studying the music of English composers Gordon Jacob, Edmund Rubbra, Malcolm Arnold, Lennox Berkeley, Arnold Cooke and Alan Ridout. My research seeks to identify the points of stylistic correspondence between the six composers’ music for recorder and keyboards, composed between 1939 and 1989.

Coming to postgraduate research in music analysis after completing a Bachelors Degree in Performance and Honours in Music Sociology, I might be a musical jack-of-all-trades — but it is the diversity of fields within music that makes it so fascinating.

I would like to explore them all! I enjoy the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music’s comprehensive approach to musicianship. Performance, composition and analysis, music history, sociology and ethnomusicology are integrated at the undergraduate level and inform each other at the postgraduate level. It is a rich and creative atmosphere.

John Garzoli, PhD student in Ethnomusicology

Supervisor: Professor Margaret Kartomi

John Garzoli is researching contemporary musical fusions in Bangkok and north-eastern regions of Thailand. Fusion musics have featured in the Thai musical landscape since early last century but recent developments have energised the field. This study will examine the recent history of musical fusion and consider a range of factors which have led musicians to combine Western jazz and funk elements with traditional elements from Thai classical music and traditional folk music.

John is one of ten Australian post-graduate candidates to receive the prestigious Prime Minister’s Asia Endeavour Award. This award will fund 12 months of field work in Thailand where based at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

John holds degrees in music performance from the VCA (Improvisation) and education (UC). He has lectured in Harmony, Aural studies, Performance Practice, Professional Practice, Ethnomusicology and Jazz studies. He has conducted research in music, education, and engineering. In 2007 he received a grant through the Australia Thai Association and the Royal Thai Embassy to present workshops on Thai music to ten schools in the Australian Capital Territory.

Jane Hammond, PhD student in Composition

Supervisors: Associate Professor Thomas Reiner, Dr Paul Watt

I completed my Masters by Research in music composition at Monash in 2007. My research focused on the possibilities of text generating music and took the form of a folio of original compositions — a trio for violin, clarinet and piano; a guitar trio; a number of songs for voice and piano; a solo piano work and a large choral piece for SATB choir, piano and CD. The folio was accompanied by an explanatory exegesis. Some of the vocal works in this folio became part of a larger original music theatre work that was produced at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne in late 2007 called Voicing Emily.

During my Masters candidature I was assisted with two travel grants from the Arts Faculty at Monash. One enabled me to participate as a guest composer at the Sixth Shell Darwin International Guitar Festival and the other to make field recordings for my choral composition. During my candidature I was very appreciative of the opportunity to have my choral work performed by the Monash School of Music choir.

I am now in the very early stages of the PhD journey, working towards creating a folio of original music compositions that will focus on experimental music theatre and opera. The Music School and the wider Monash community continue to provide me with opportunities and the stimulus to further hone my compositional and research skills.

The self-reflection that necessarily comes with practice-based research has benefited my compositional skills and my capacity to be articulate and engaged with my own, and others’ creative practice.

Jane Hammond – Going Places

Kerrin Hancock, PhD student in Ethnomusicology

Supervisors: Professor Margaret Kartomi, Dr Graeme Smith

After initially completing a Master of Music Studies (Musicology) degree at Monash, I have for the past two years been a PhD student in Ethnomusicology in the School of Music. My research interest is migration, musical transplantation and cultural change and my thesis investigates the transplantation, reception and responses in Australia (Melbourne) of the choral synagogue music of South African Jews.

This is a somewhat controversial music custom in Melbourne because of its unfamiliarity to Australian Jews. For me, it is a rewarding project as I am one of very few people in the world engaged in studying and documenting this particular Jewish music.

Giving conference papers is an important part of PhD research and I was privileged to travel to North America in October 2007 where I delivered a paper at the international conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology. In 2009, I will be going to South Africa to conduct fieldwork in Johannesburg, before travelling on to Israel for further research in Jerusalem.

The highlight of my PhD experience is the outstanding supervision available in the School of Music. My principal and associate supervisors are both internationally reputed academics and scholars from whom I receive disciplined and rigorous training, continuing inspiration and much encouragement.

I am definitely in the right place at the right time.

Michael Spicer, PhD student in Composition

Supervisor: Associate Professor Thomas Reiner

I am an external PhD composition student, living and working in Singapore. I have a mixed background, having a conventional music education and extensive professional experience in popular music, but with a strong interest in experimental electronic and computer music. In addition, I also have a computer science background, and have worked as a software developer.

My PhD consists of building a folio of electroacoustic compositions, working with a mixture of interactive computer software and acoustic instruments. Most of my work combines elements of constrained improvisation, and interactive performance systems. These systems, written using the ChucK programming language, create an ensemble of virtual improvisers, implemented as autonomous agents.

My time at Monash has been a very stimulating experience. I have found that working with the Monash faculty has spurred me on to another phase of growth. My basic assumptions have been challenged (again), and I am encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and to revaluate my position as a person straddling the divide between popular music and art music.

Anthea Skinner, PhD student in Musicology

Supervisors: Professor Margaret Kartomi, Dr Joel Crotty

I completed my honours degree in musicology at Monash in 2004. After a few years away from study, I am now preparing for my PhD. My research focuses on Australian military bands of World War II, examining the way the experiences of military musicians change between war and peacetime.

My research is extremely rewarding, I particularly enjoy the chance to talk to veterans of World War II about their experiences as military musicians. I can usually be found in one archive or another, surrounded by seemingly unending stacks of military documents.

I am also a student with a disability and the staff members at Monash are always extremely supportive and helpful in insuring that I am able to have equal access to all the facilities at the university.

Tony Toppi, MA student in Composition

Supervisors: Associate Professor Thomas Reiner, Dr Paul Watt

My research focuses on how music can generate a narrative. By closely studying the works of Stephen Sondheim, Mauricio Kagel and John Cage, I am developing my own means and methods to create music that generates a narrative. My folio includes three musical theatre works, three works for the chamber ensemble ‘Sospiro’ (recorder, flute, viola da gamba and piano), and a work for piano and CD.

Having a strong background in performance, accompaniment and musical direction, a study in composition is a new experience for me. My performance background has allowed me to explore the vast compositional styles of different composers from different eras and genres. During my Honours study in music performance, I wrote a thesis that investigated how, through the use of leitmotiv, Stephen Sondheim changed the importance of music and compositional approach in a musical theatre work. This study lit the ‘composer’ spark in me and I began to develop a desire to compose. The more I discover about composition the more I am thankful that I have the means to approach it with the performer in mind because I believe that music is written to be performed and to live in the mind and world of the appreciator.

Outside of my studies I continue to work as an accompanist, as a musical director for amateur theatre, as a part of ‘Sospiro’ and as Director of Music at Emmaus College.

Lisa Young, PhD student in Performance

Supervisors: Professor Margaret Kartomi, Robert Vincs

Since 1994, South Indian music has been a major influence on my composition and performance practice. Alongside my studies in Australia, I have thrice visited Chennai for advanced konnakkol studies with my teacher and mentor mridangam virtuoso, Karraikudi Mani.

My PhD research explores the experience of konnakol (South Indian vocal percussion), its broad use in contemporary performance, linking to its expression in my work.

The research investigates the integration of konnakol language into my personal performance and composition practice, with particular focus on the song cycle ‘The Eternal Pulse’, the major performance project I am creating and performing as part of the candidature.

The song cycle features extensive integration of konnakol and wordless lingual sounds and uses varieties of meter and subdivision. It is arranged for voice, and jazz trio (guitar, double bass, drums), and is performed by musicians with jazz sensibilities. A CD recording of ‘The Eternal Pulse’ will accompany the exegesis, and an audio-visual component will provide vital demonstrations of fundamental concepts employed in the creation of the work.

In 1998 I completed a Master of Music Performance (Voice) at the Victorian College of the Arts which included a thesis in Konnakol.

I am delighted to be studying at Monash.