Semester 1 Musicology and Ethnomusicology Highlights

Bronia Kornhauser’s latest article on Yiddish language and culture

Bronia Kornhauser, archivist in the Music Archive of Monash Universty (MAMU) has recently published an article entitled ‘Music and the Continuity of Yiddish Language and Culture in Melbourne’, Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, 27 (2103): 85-118. 

The abstract for the article is:

The centrality of Yiddish language and culture that was so obvious in Melbourne’s Jewish community during the immediate post-Holocaust era has dramatically declined. Spoken Yiddish was replaced by English as a first language and Hebrew often as a second, usually learnt at a Jewish day school; and Yiddish culture (including literature, music, food, art…) was either overshadowed by a strong connection with Israel and an embrace of Israeli culture, or discarded as a result of assimilation, or both. Is it possible to turn the tide and raise the awareness of and interest in the rich thousand-year heritage from which many members of the next generation stem? There are of course small pockets of Yiddishists, for example Bundists and certain religious groups, who still hold strongly onto the Yiddish traditions of their forefathers, but a more widespread adherence would assist in the quest for continuity. It has long been accepted that music reflects and defines cultural identity. Consequently, music can be (and has been) used as a means of maintaining Jewish traditions and ultimately, in this case, Yiddish continuity. Klezmer music, for example, is widely associated with Ashkenazi, and specifically Yiddish, tradition and could be a good musical starting point for reviving and promoting Yiddish continuity in Melbourne’s Jewish community. But there is far more to Yiddish music than just Klezmer, as this article will demonstrate. It also argues that an effective means of facilitating the promotion of Yiddish language and culture is through the music class, and the types of music performed generally, in all of Melbourne’s Jewish day schools. Such a move, however, would require the full cooperation of school principals and staff, and a recognition (all too often lacking) of the vital importance of music generally in education.

Professor Margaret Kartomi to undertake fieldwork in Riau, Indonesia

In mid June, Professor Margaret Kartomi will undertake fieldwork in Indonesia’s Riau Islands for two weeks on her Australian Research Council Discovery Project after presenting a paper at the International Council of Traditional Music’s Southeast Asian Music Study group (PASEA) Conference at  ISI (Institut Seni Indonesia) in Denpasar, from 14 June, 2015.

Professor Kartomi will be recording and videoing the music of the former palace at Daik-Lingga and her fellow researcher Karen Thomas will research the bangsawan theatre there. 

Professor Kartomi’s grant is on ‘The Changing Identity and the Sustainability of the Music-Cultures and Worldviews of the Riau Islands’ Sea Nomads and Sedentary Malays.’

An International Symposium will be held on the topic at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University, Clayton Campus from 14­–16 January, 2015. All welcome.

Advisory Board established for the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU)

The Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU) now has an Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Rae Frances, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. At the first two meetings, attended by staff from Music and Theatre Studies and representatives of the Sir Louis Matheson Library, e-Solutions, etc., a Business Plan draft was approved and a Collection Policy document was adopted. 

MAMU has been collaborating on projects with the Australia-Indonesia Centre, operating from Monash University, and the Museum of Indonesian Arts. A digital wing of MAMU has been established and Professors Richard Divall and John Griffiths are publishing edited Australian scores of rare historical and musical value.

MAMU is also preparing to mount two exhibitions in late 2014. Further details will be announced in later posts.

 Documentary maker undertakes research in the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU)

A recent visitor to the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU) was Oonagh Sherrard who is a freelance composer and sound maker. She came to listen to reel-to-reel recordings of concerts and talks that had been delivered by Ashok Roy in the RBH and music auditorium (then on the 8th floor of the Menzies building) in 1980.

Ms Sherrard was thrilled to have found this resource as they are the only available audio recordings of those events. She subsequently produced a documentary on Ashok Roy using selections from our recordings. The documentary was aired on ABC Radio National’s Into the Music’ program at 4pm on Saturday 31 May and was repeated the following Monday night. The documentary can be accessed online at

Adrian McNeil, ethnomusicologist and senior lecturer in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, features in the documentary and, together with MAMU and its archivist Bronia Kornhauser, is thanked  in the ABC’s accompanying webpage commentary. 

Dr Joel Crotty and Dr Julie Waters contribute to a special issue of Transcultural Studies: A Series in Interdisciplinary Research

 Dr Joel Crotty and Dr Julie Waters have had articles published in a special issue of Transcultural Studies on the theme, ‘Socialist Realism and Nationalism in Music, Literature, Film and Public Discourse: The Transcultural Dimension’.

 The articles are:

Joel Crotty, ‘Beyond the Sneer: Revisiting Musical Socialist Realism’

 Julie Waters, ‘The influence of Christopher Caudwell on Alan Bush’s early response to socialist realism’

 Transcultural Studies can be found online at

Dr Gay Breyley publishes new article on Asian diasporas in Australia

Dr Gay Breyley, recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), has recently published ‘Dance, Dreams and Defiance: Asian Diasporic Music Cultures in Australia’ in the Journal of Intercultural Studies:

This year Dr Breyley is undertaking fieldwork with migrants from Iran to North America, especially Los Angeles, where the ‘Iranian’ or Persian-language commercial pop music industry has thrived since Iran’s 1979 revolution. She is giving a paper at the Celebrity Studies conference ( ) in June.

Dr Paul Watt re-appointed Editor of the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle

Dr Paul Watt has been appointed Editor of the RMA Research Chronicle for a further three years. The RMA Research Chronicle’s aim is to provide an avenue of publication for articles that make extensive use of apparatus such as indexes, catalogues, inventories and calendars relating to particular musicians, institutions, collections or archives.

Musicology honours student, Ian Parsons, directs performance of a rarely heard work, Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise

On 27 May 2014, 14 musicians came together at Melbourne’s Make It Up Club to perform excerpts from Cornelius Cardew’s epic 193-page score, Treatise (1963–1967), a work of complex graphic notation, inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and for which the composer provided no interpretative instructions.

Directed by Ian Parsons, the performance had been planned over several months, during which time a different page of the score was randomly assigned to each player who then took responsibility for leading the interpretation of that particular page.

While each page was individually interpreted, this was done within some very broad parameters set for the whole group as well as more particular sonic ‘flavours’ for each of the three performance sub-groups into which the larger group was divided. The process, and ultimately the performance, was a fascinating experience of collective interpretation as well a bringing together of both planned and improvised approaches to musical performance, all in a piece of experimental music that continues to challenge and inspire vigorous debates, and passionate interest, amongst musicians half a century after its composition.


 Dr Jonathan McIntosh publishes book chapter on musical tourism

Dr Jonathan McIntosh has recently had a chapter published in a book entitled The Globalization of Musics in Transit: Music, Migration and Tourismedited by Simone Krüger and Ruxandra Trandafoiu and published by Routledge.

Dr McIntosh’s chapter is entitled ‘Negotiating Musical Boundaries and Frontiers: Tourism, Child Performers, and the Tourist-Ethnographer in Bali, Indonesia.’

From the publisher’s website:

This book traces the particularities of music migration and tourism in different global settings, and provides current, even new perspectives for ethnomusicological research on globalizing musics in transit. The dual focus on tourism and migration is central to debates on globalization, and their examination—separately or combined—offers a useful lens on many key questions about where globalization is taking us: questions about identity and heritage, commoditization, historical and cultural representation, hybridity, authenticity and ownership, neoliberalism, inequality, diasporization, the relocation of allegiances, and more. Moreover, for the first time, these two key phenomena—tourism and migration—are studied conjointly, as well as interdisciplinary, in order to derive both parallels and contrasts. While taking diverse perspectives in embracing the contemporary musical landscape, the collection offers a range of research methods and theoretical approaches from ethnomusicology, anthropology, cultural geography, sociology, popular music studies, and media and communication. In so doing, Musics in Transit provides a rich exemplification of the ways that all forms of musical culture are becoming transnational under post-global conditions, sustained by both global markets and musics in transit, and to which both tourists and diasporic cosmopolitans make an important contribution.