Music’s brightest minds set to converge on Perth this December

WAAPA Classical Music - photo by Jon Green

Aboriginal song traditions, opera for children, extreme metal and the work of historic composer Joseph Haydn are just some of the themes that will be explored at an upcoming music conference at Edith Cowan University (ECU) this December.

The 41st Musicological Society of Australia (MSA) National Conference, held in conjunction with the 17th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance and the ACMC 2018 (Australian Computer Music Association), brings together the brightest minds in music from Australia and the world.

The MSA conference only comes to Perth every 7 – 10 years and conference Convener Associate Professor Jonathan Paget said WAAPA was delighted to be hosting the conference for the first time. “I believe this is the largest MSA conference to date and no doubt one of the largest music research conferences ever held in Australia. Also significant this year is the large concentration of research on Indigenous music and dance,” said Professor Paget.

WAAPA’s new Associate Professor Clint Bracknell will speak about his Australian Research Council project Mobilising song archives to nourish an endangered Aboriginal language. “The conference is held on the homelands of the largest Aboriginal cultural bloc in Australia with a mutually intelligible language – known as Noongar,” said Professor Bracknell.

“In this part of the world, song was once as prevalent as speech. However, as has been the case in Aboriginal communities across Australia, factors associated with colonisation have adversely impacted Noongar song practices and repertoire.

“Nevertheless, Noongar songs are still highly valued today as vestiges of cultural heritage carrying the promise of renewal. My research with Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories aims to empower Noongar people to perform and sustain song traditions,” Professor Bracknell added.

Highlights of the conference include:

The Aboriginal Artists Agency: A Formative Force within the Australian Indigenous Performing Arts Industry
This paper explores how, within its first decade, the AAA worked closely with Australian Indigenous performing artists to undertake an ambitious series of innovative recording and touring projects that contributed directly to establishing and defining the present global market for Australian Indigenous arts and culture. Presented by Aaron Corn – University of Adelaide.

Investigating the Australian Sound in Australian Extreme Metal: A Review of the Literature
This paper discusses Mr Hillier’s PhD research on Australian extreme metal bands, their practices, and opinions about the distinct characteristics of Australian extreme metal. Presented by Benjamin Hillier – University of Tasmania.

Arranging the Music of Radiohead for the Classical Guitar
Throughout the history of the guitar, arranging and adaption of popular music has been an enduring practice. This paper documents the process of arranging the music of Radiohead for classical guitar. Presented by Evan Hopkins – University of Sydney.

Are Video Games the 21st Century’s Answer to Opera?
Many in the classical music industry bemoan the declining ticket sales and apparent public apathy towards large-scale musical performances and institutions like opera companies and symphony orchestras. This paper seeks to propose video game music itself as a multimedia art form uniquely suited to contemporary Western society. Presented by Alexander Hunter – Australian National University.

What would it take to re-engage in Music Activity?
Motivational research has dominated the literature on how we learn musical instruments, yet little is known about those who cease and pick up learning again, either in childhood or later life. This research looks at how and why individuals continue to participate or cease their participation in musical activities by focusing specifically on identifying barriers to participation. Presented by Amanda E Krause, Samantha Diekmann & Jane W Davidson – University of Melbourne & Curtin University.

The following performances at the MSA Conference are free and open to the public:

New Directions in Jazz:
Music Auditorium: Thursday 6 December – 6.30pm

Leading international exponents showcase new Jazz works in performance… featuring Tom O’Halloran and Niran Disaka with Ben Vanderwal and Zac Grafton.

The Music of Manuella Blackburn:
Enright Theatre: Thursday 6 December – 7.30pm
Manuella began lecturing at Liverpool Hope University in 2010. Her specialism within the field of electroacoustic music is fixed media – acousmatic music for loudspeakers.Performed by Tristan Parr and Louise Devenish.

Twilight Indigenous Performance:
WAAPA Amphitheatre: Friday 7 December – 6.00pm
Featuring live performances from Indigenous musicians and dancers from around Australia, including South West WA, the Pilbara, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land, and rural NSW. No registration necessary.

An Historic Piano Showcase:
Music Auditorium: Friday 7 December – 7.30pm
Edith Cowan University (ECU) has become the custodian of the most important collection of 18th and 19th century keyboards in the world, donated by Stewart Symonds and enhanced by fellow collector David Forward. This concert is a fantastic showcase of historic piano music performed on original and replica instruments, including music by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Liszt. Directed by Geoffrey Lancaster – featuring James Huntingford and Nick Williams.

The 41st Musicology Society of Australia (MSA) National Conference will be held at WAAPA: 6 – 9 December, 2018. For more information, visit: for details. Conference program and abstracts are available online.

Image: WAAPA Classical Music – photo by Jon Green