Skip past navigation to main part of page
Faculties : A-Z Directory : Library

Ethnoheads Newsletter

#2 February 2007


This second edition of the Newsletter for the disparate group of people who were labelled by my graduate students as “ethnoheads” – people  associated with ethnomusicology at  the Faculty of Music at the University of Melbourne -  has widened its scope from Newsletter #1  by including news of past students and some information about broader national and international activities in research and performance.

The aim of the Newsletter is to facilitate connections between people who are engaged in research in  ethnomusicology  - a very broad umbrella indeed –and who might discover new colleagues, new friends, new connections, new research collaborations  and new dialogues through this vehicle.

An email list of recipients appears by permission at the end of this issue: please feel free to forward this Newsletter to anyone who might be interested in similar or related research issues and ask them to send me their news.

Your brief reviews of recently encountered books, journal articles, CDs, DVDs, films and websites and your news of courses or other opportunities that you have found of interest are welcome.

With thanks to all who have contributed.

Warm wishes

Cathy Falk


Cally Brennan (PhD candidate, Melbourne) writes

A year ago I moved to Canberra to take up a government job - in the Department of Transport and Regional Services.  Although a bit distant from Ethnomusicology, I am in a research area which analyses statistics and economic data about Australia's regions, which is actually very interesting. The projects we undertake are wide ranging, from finding out the cost of living in remote Australia, to water allocation issues in the Murray Darling basin, to understanding more about economic development in Tasmania.  Having previously done mostly qualitative research, it's fascinating to try my hand at quantitative research skills and I've learned a great deal since starting here.  The PhD, which I have been doing part-time for some years now, is near completion too, and I'm starting to make some contacts at ANU, which is also really helpful.  The thesis is on the performance of dikir barat (a genre of Malay music) by young people in Singapore. 

My research looks at how the performance of dikir barat constructs and negotiates Malay identity, in conjunction with (and sometimes in opposition to) the Singapore government's constructions of, and discourses about 'race'.  Race is used as the fundamental identifier for Singaporeans - everyone is categorised into Chinese, Malay, Indian or Other (CMIO) - however, these categories are not at all neutral, but are rich with associated meanings, stereotypes and prejudices.  For those identified as Malay Singaporeans, a minority who are economically and educationally disadvantaged relative to the rest of Singapore society, performing dikir barat is not only an enjoyable musical pastime, it also enables the presentation, negotiation and construction of Malay identity by Malay Singaporeans themselves (albeit in a manner acceptable to the authorities), and critically, for them to feel good about being Malay in Singapore.

Catherine Ingram ( PhD candidate, Melbourne) writes

I am in the writing-up phase of my PhD, entitled Rice still feeds the body, but does song still feed the heart?  An ethnography of the Kam ‘big song’ tradition in contemporary China.  In the later part of 2006 I presented various aspects of my research at a number of conferences and meetings, including the University of Melbourne Chinese Studies Group August Meeting, the University of Melbourne School of Languages Postgraduate Conference, ‘The Linguistics of Song’ workshop (hosted by the Linguistics Department, Latrobe University), the Musicological Society of Australia annual conference (hosted by the University of New England) and the Oriental Studies Association of Australia fiftieth anniversary conference (hosted by the University of Sydney).  I was awarded the 2006 Student Prize for my paper The importance of Kam ‘big song’ in establishing and maintaining Kam identity given at the Musicological Society of Australia conference.

In late 2006 I participated in two stages of workshops held by the Writing Centre at the University of Melbourne.  I successfully applied for publication support from the Writing Centre to produce a non-academic feature article concerning certain aspects of my research, to be published during 2007.  My research and the research and publication aspirations of other course participants also featured in The Age (A2) on 18th November 2006 in the article ‘Academic Idyll’ by Julie Szego.

I am also presently preparing various recordings made during fieldwork (including over 100 hours each of video and sound recordings) for archiving with the online digital archive PARADISEC, and in December 2006 I also attended the conference Sustainable Data from Digital Fieldwork (organised by PARADISEC).  Most recently, I attended the ‘Residential Writing Retreat for Postgraduate Students’, organised through the ARC Asia Pacific Futures Research Network and hosted by the ANU.  The three-day workshop focused on Ethnographic Writing and was led by Professor Kirin Narayan, Professor of Anthropology and Languages and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Bronwen Robertson ( PhD candidate, Melbourne) writes:-

Bronwen has recently returned from an overseas venture that saw her spend one month of a searing northern hemisphere summer in England, attending the annual International Society for Iranian Studies conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and reading material at the Cambridge University library.  This month was followed by one in residence at the British Institute for Persian studies in Tehran, Iran, where she stayed whilst conducted the preliminary research for her fieldwork.  Bronwen took myriad photographs and forayed into Tehran’s underground rock scene, partying, listening to music. The friendships that she had initiated via computer-mediated communication were made concrete during this time and she made valuable contacts to further assist her research when she returns in April to study Farsi at the University of Tehran’s Dehkhoda Institute for six months.  She has been learning Farsi privately in Melbourne and has been translating children’s books and watching badly overdubbed versions of children’s movies as practice.  Bronwen presented a paper based on this preliminary research at the annual Musicology Society of Australia conference in Armidale, 2006, and took part in a writing workshop offered by the Australian National University at their Coastal Campus in Kioloa.  After two days of rockpooling and attending science workshops at the Campus’ “Open Week”, she settled into a few days of writing under the guidance of Kirin Narayan, an Anthropologist and author from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Re-established in Melbourne and freshly inspired, Bronwen is now working out the logistical side of her next fieldwork trip and writing, writing, writing.

Elina Yasumoto  (B Mus U Melb 2005)

Elina will complete  her M Mus at the Faculty of Music at the University of Melbourne early in 2007, and has been accepted for the PhD at Melbourrne. Her PhD Research Proposal is as follows:

My research interest for my PhD takes me to the Austral (Tubuai) Islands, French Polynesia. I propose to write an ethnography of the choral music of this region. The study will investigate correlations between the musical and social structures as well as determining any musical vernacular or taxonomy. The study will also consider epistemological constructs of music, the context in which it takes place and the function it fulfils. Very little scholarship of the music of the Tubuai Islands exists and minimal research in this area has been published in the past two decades. The research project will aim to fill a lacuna in the contemporary scholarship of this oceanic  region. Global/glocalisation and influences of Protestant hymnody in contemporary Tubuai choral music will be considerations. (Fieldwork will provide information for a narrower focus)

Fourth-year students

There are five fourth-year Melbourne B Mus students writing an honours dissertation in ethnomusicology in 2007. They present synopses of their projects below.

Holly de Jong writes

My honours dissertation, with the working title, Blowing Zen Across Boundaries: Experiencing the Shakuhachi Soundscape in Postmodern Australia, will examine the shakuhachi in the context of contemporary Australia. Shakuhachi events, concerts, clubs/societies, chat rooms, ensembles and other related networks will inform my research. Some of the questions that will direct my enquiry are as follows. How many people play the shakuhachi in Australia and why? What styles of music in Australia are incorporating the shakuhachi and how are they doing so? How many Australian composers are writing for the shakuhachi, and what techniques do they employ when doing so? As a result of musical dialogue and collaboration, what are the sonic and ideological corollaries for the shakuhachi?

A book I am currently reading might be of interest to some ethnoheads: Steven Mithen’s The Singing Neanderthals (2005, London: Phoenix). This ambitious work draws on numerous fields, including ethnomusicology, linguistics, psychology, neurology and archaeology, to address how music and language evolved and why. A myriad of case studies and experiments are examined in this work, creating a fascinating body of information.

Holly also reports on a  research project she was involved in:

Last year  (2006) I completed a Significance Assessment of the Indonesian Musical Instrument Collection, a part of the Rare and Historic Musical Instrument Collection of the University of Melbourne. The semester-long project incorporated the Significance Assessment methodology utilised for cultural collections across Australia, which involves the investigation of four primary criteria: historic significance, social and spiritual significance, research and interpretation potential significance and aesthetic significance. Professor Catherine Falk obtained the instruments that make up the collection, including a slendro-pelog Central Javanese gamelan (with a full set of Javanese shadow puppets), a Sundanese gamelan degung and a kacapi-suling-rebab ensemble, in the early 1990s. Files compiled over time by Professor Falk provided much background and historical information for the assessment. A questionnaire completed by members of the Melbourne Community Gamelan Ensemble and the Melbourne Gamelan Degung Ensemble, and personal communication with individuals involved with the instruments, indicated the high degree of social and spiritual significance that the collection holds. The Significance Assessment report will inform future collection management decisions, including those to do with conservation and access.

Adam Downs writes

For my fourth year thesis project, I plan to undertake an examination of the musical activities of the local Armenian community.  Over the coming months I hope to work with local musicians to contrast performance situations of Armenian musicians performing both Armenian and Western musical styles.  As part of this project I am hoping to learn the duduk, a traditional Armenian wind instrument.

Sarah el-Atm writes

Sarah's dissertation aims to examine the place of music in the lives of musicians and audiences of Lebanese, Egyptian and Moroccan origin in Melbourne.  It will contextualise these specific geographical areas of Middle Eastern music making within the history of changing Australian policies concerning migration and the notion of “multiculturalism”. Middle Eastern musicians that have migrated to Australia, particularly from Lebanon,  Egypt and Morocco, form a thriving yet understated “sub-culture” of musical performance traditions in Melbourne.  These musicians are well known for performing regularly at Sahara Nights, the Brunswick Music Festival, Manningham City Council community events, private weddings and Islamic festivals such as Eid and Ramadan.  Middle Eastern entertainment enjoys a successful commercial trade in CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and musical instruments most commonly found along Sydney Road, Melbourne. The dissertation will examine the areas of comparative reflections between the musicians and their notion of upholding multiculturalism; where, when and under what conditions the music is performed, listened to and at times unaccepted; and how these musicians and their communities maintain a unifying identity through their music.  The role of gender, the modes of transmission and composition, and the positions of amateur and professional musicians will form major points of consideration.

Emily Lynar writes

In preparation for my honours dissertation of 2007, I am currently transcribing and analysing vocal music of the Tai Phake and Singpho people of Northeast India.  Recordings have been kindly made available through the work of linguist Stephen Morey ( see Stephen’ s news below), who has spent much time in the villages of the Assam region in particular.  I want to look specifically at the relationship between linguistic tone and musical pitch, and ramifications for subsequent understanding of the lyrics.  I suspect there will be distinct differences between the way older 'traditional' songs and more 'modern' songs treat the text.  Similar research has been done in other areas of Asia and Africa, with mixed results.  I expect this will prove an interesting and rewarding study, and I hope it will enable me to meet more of you over the following months.

Nicola Strating writes

My research interest for my PhD takes me to the Austral (Tubuai) Islands, French Polynesia. I propose to write an ethnography of the choral music of this region. The study will investigate correlations between the musical and social structures as well as determining any musical vernacular or taxonomy. The study will also consider epistemological constructs of music, the context in which it takes place and the function it fulfils. Very little scholarship of the music of the Tubuai Islands exists and minimal research in this area has been published in the past two decades. The research project will aim to fill a lacuna in the contemporary scholarship of this oceanic region. Global/glocalisation and influences of Protestant hymnody in contemporary Tubuai choral music will be considerations. (Fieldwork will provide information for a narrower focus)


Christine (May) Wong (B Mus 2006) writes

Since my graduation in August I decided to return to my home country, Malaysia, in hope of seeking employment opportunities.

About a month and a half ago I attended an audition for Malaysia's professional gamelan group, Rhythm in Bronze and have since been accepted as a principal player with them. The repertoire is very challenging; for one I had to very quickly learn Malay style gamelan as well as contemporary gamelan repertoire that is reflective of Malaysia's multi cultural identity. Nevertheless the learning experience has been amazing, and I am thankful for the grounding I received in traditional Javanese gamelan under Pak Poedi.

I have also recently joined Pusaka - a non profit organisation based in Kuala Lumpur. Pusaka is an organisation that researches and documents traditional arts in Malaysia and most of its work is based within communities on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, within the state of Kelantan. A large amount of Pusaka's work focuses on the documentation and educational projects of Kelantan's traditional genres such as the Mak Yong (an art form that recently received a UNESCO world heritage status), Wayang Kulit, Main Puteri, Dikir Barat and Menora.

There will be different projects coming up in the year and I look forward  to great learning opportunities in store for me here in Malaysia.

Rebekah Plueckhahn  (B Mus 2003)  writes from Mongolia (October 2006)

Just a quick report to let you know that everything is going really well! I have found a great, roomy, and warm apartment in the centre of town, in an old Soviet apartment block, right near work, and right next to Mongolia's modern art gallery. The Arts Council looks great, and I am meeting all my workmates gradually. I am about to start language classes for two weeks, and will start work officially after that. I have had an excursion out to the outlying camps which was a huge contrast to the city. And have also tasted my first fermented mare's milk, and Mongolian vodka (although not together:-)

I am really excited to be here! It is going to be so rewarding working and living here, there is a great network of NGO's and the Arts Council's projects are really dynamic and encompassing. I will give you more of an update when I begin work!

Dan Bendrups (B Mus/B A Hons 2000  ) writes:

In 2001 I launched into PhD at Macquarie University as the first ever Music Department recipient of a Research for Areas and Centres of Excellence Award (APA equivalent). Thesis title: 'Continuity in Adaptation: A history of Rapanui Muisc'.  Between 2002 and 2003, I spent a total of 11 months in fieldwork on Rapanui (Easter Island) and in Chile. In 2004, in collaboration with indigenous musicians and the Rapanui museum, I established a digital music archive for the preservation and repatriation of Rapanui music (see report: )   Later that year, I took up a lecturing position at the University of Otago (Dunedin New Zealand), which is now ongoing.  Working alongside Henry Johnson, this makes Otago the only music department in NZ to have two full time ethnomusicologists on staff, and offerings in ethnomusicology and popular music now lie at the core of the degree structure.  In this role, I have established comprehensive subjects and research bases in both Pacific and Latin American music.  I was awarded the PhD in 2005 and also awarded the Vice Chancellor's Commendation "for a doctoral thesis of exceptional merit".  Amazingly, I've managed to find time to keep up a performance schedule alongside all this.  I'm currently playing trombone in the Southern Sinfonia orchestra, and in Dunedin-based latin jazz fusion sextet Cambio, which has appeared recently at the Queenstown International Jazz Festival.  My next challenge: re-establishing the brass performance programme at Otago, and getting my Rapanui music book out!  My publications are appearing in various contexts, but the easiest to access is in the 2006 YTM.   For those interested in popular music, I'll be hosting the ANZ-IASPM conference in Dunedin at the end of November.  A CFP will be out very soon.  Oh yeah, as I write, my wife and I are expecting our first child at any moment!


Dr Reis Flora (Honorary Research Fellow, Faculty of Music ) writes:

Currently I am researching 12 miniature ragamala paintings from Rajasthan in the National Gallery of Victoria. They will appear as part of an exhibition at the NGV later this year and a paper will be presented at a conference of the International Association of Music Libraries Archives and Documentation Centres in Sydney in July.

Dr Joseph Jordania (Honorary Research Fellow, Faculty of Music) writes about his recently published book:

The book "Who Asked the First Question? The Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech" was published in September 2006, by Tbilisi University Press "Logos" and The International Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony. The origins of human choral singing is discussed in this 450 page book in the wide interdisciplinary context of the evolution of human intelligence, language and speech. Some of the topics discussed in detail are: the origin of rhythm as the main element of hominid defence strategy; origin of the human ability to ask questions as the central element of human intelligence; the prevalence of stuttering and dyslexia in different regions of the world and correlation with the distribution of choral singing; the importance of Indo-European migrations in shaping the musical tapestry of the European continent; the problem of polyphony in ancient Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica; overtone singing of the Central Asian peoples; elements of ancient European polyphony in the musical language of the Beatles; vocal polyphony of the Ainus from North Japan, the Georgians from the Caucasian mountains, the Nuristanians from Afghanistan, the Tuaregs from North Africa, pearl-divers from the Persian Gulf, the Lithuanians from the Baltic, the Polynesians from the Pacific and Native Americans. Although transcribed examples of choral singing from many regions are provided, the book is aimed at a wider circle of readers interested in the problems of human evolution.

The book tries to rise and answer the following questions: Why do we feel such an urge to join the rhythmic music with rhythmic movements of our body, finger clicking and stomping? Why are the audiences at the classical music concerts sitting in a total silence and cannot even clap between the parts of the symphony, whereas at rock music concerts audiences are free to clap, sing and shout even during the performance? Why do we ask so many questions to small babies and pets, who can not answer them? Why are most of European traditional polyphonic traditions located among mountain ranges?

The book was presented at The Third International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony, 29-29 September 2006, Tbilisi, Georgia. Currently it is impossible to purchase any copies of the book.

About the Symposium:

The Third International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony was held at the International Research Centre of Traditional Polyphony at Tbilisi State Conservatory in September 25-29, 2006. Publication of the full papers is also planned in 2007. Scholars from  Europe, Asia, North America and Australia delivered papers.

The full list of participants and their papers is as follows (in alphabetical order):

1. Simha Arom (France). “Polyphony by way of polyrhythm."  2. Mauro Balma (Italy). “Two repertoires, two styles of multipart singing: the trallalero (multipart singing) and the canto a bordone (singing with drone) (Liguria, Italy).” 3. Josko Caleta (Croatia). “The Multipart singing of Croatia - Vocal Traditions of the Adriatic Islands.” 4. Jean-Jacques Casteret (France). “Multipart singing in France (Basque and Occitan Pyrenees).” 5. Dieter Christensen, USA. “Sound archives: technology, research, state.” 6. Pantxoa Etchegoin (France). “‚Kantuketan‚ ˆ Universe of the Basque traditional song” 7. Franz Foedermayr (Austria). “Examples of virtual multi-part music and their psychoacoustic foundation.” 8. Tamaz Gabisonia, Georgia. “The notion of „polyphony”(multi-voiced singing) and Georgian folk music.” 9. Giorgi Gotsiridze & Nino Gambashidze, Georgia. “Liturgical nature, appraisals and table chants of Georgian traditional feast.”10. Vladimer Gogotishvili, Georgia. “Mode-intonational peculiarities of the ‘Georgian cadence’ of type 1.”  11. Joseph Jordania, Australia. “Origin of rhythm: Beginnings of choral polyphony and the defence strategy in human evolution.” 12. Franz Lechleitner (Austria). “The Georgian Wax Cylinder Collections ˆ Recording technology and recommendations for restoration.” 13. Gerda Lechleitner and Nona Lomidze (Austria). “Bukharian and Georgian Jews in Vienna.” 14. Otar Kapanadze, Davit Shugliashvili, Georgia. “Presentation of new fieldwork materials from Surebi [mountainous village in Guria, western Georgia].” 15. Andrea Kuzmich (Canada). “Non-change in the Traditional Georgian Polyphonic Songs of Tbilisi Ensembles.” 16. Mikhail Lobanov (Russia). “Previously Unaccounted Type of Russian Vocal Polyphony.” 17. Nona Lomidze (Austria). “Georgian song, transcription and computer.” 18. Florian Messner (Australia). :The multi-part vocal tradition in Eastern Flores (Indonesia), Middle Western Bulgaria and Baluan Island, Manus Province (Papua New Guinea): A Comparison.” 19. Ruzha Neykova (Bulgaria). “The polyphonic singing in a female ritual of South Western Bulgaria.” 20. Lauren Ninoshvili (USA). “Georgian polyphony in English liturgical music for the 21st century.” 21. Emi Nishina, Norie Kawai, Manabu Honda, Reiko Yagi, Masako Morimoto, Satoshi Nakamura, Tadao Maekawa, Yoshiharu Yonekura, Hiroshi Shibasaki amnd Tsutomu Oohashi (Japan). “Biological mechanism of perception of inaudible high-frequency component included in musical sounds.” 22. Anna Piotrowska (Poland). “Folklore as a Source of National Identification in Music.” 23. Jaksa Promorac (Croatia). „Local styles in Dalmatian klapa singing.‰ 24. Nino Pirtskhalava, Georgia. “On Georgian Notion Mortulebi, Denoting Musical Harmony, in the Works of Ioanne Petritsi.” 25. Teona Rukhadze, Georgia. “Achara-Shavsheti wedding (best men‚s) songs.” 26. Manana Shilakadze, Georgia. “Table Songs in the Context of Traditional-Domestic Culture.” 27. Davit Shugliashvili, Georgia. “Shesvladi in Georgian Sacred Chant.” 28. Daiva Rachiunaite-Vychiniene, Lithuania. “Seeking for origin of songs with  refrain tumba and their interpretation.” 29. Nino Tsitsishvili, Australia. “Gender and improvisation in Georgian polyphonic singing”. 30. Rusudan Tsurtsumia, Georgia. “Georgian Wax Cylinder Collection.” 31. Polo Vallejo, Spain. “Music and logic among the wagogo people from Tanzania.” 32. Susanne Ziegler, Germany. “Polyphony in historical recordings of the Berlin PhonogrammArchiv.” 33. Natalia Zumbadze, Georgia. “Georgian Songs of the Birth of Son.”

Participants of the Symposium also attended the festival of polyphonic singing where several ensembles from Georgia, Europe, Asia and North America  perfomed polyphonic traditions of different parts of the world.

The tradition of special conferences dedicated to traditional polyphony started in Georgia in 1984. In 2003 The International Research Centre for Traditional Polyphony was established at Tbilisi State Conservatory, with the help of UNESCO and the financial support of the Japanese government. The next Symposium is planned in September 2008.

Dr Jordania also writes about his performance activities with  Dr Nino Tsitsishvili:

Our ensemble of Georgian singing "Golden Fleece" and Georgian-Bulgarian ensemble "Gorani" had several performances at the Cygnet Folk Festival this January. Also, in few days "Golden Fleece" is going to Canberra to take part in a theatrical performance, titled "John, Paul, Ringo and... Georgia" - this is a show featuring mixture of Georgian traditional singing and the Beatles music, and is dedicated to the 40 years of the "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band" album release (two performances, on February 8 and 9). The show will feature Nino's and my new arrangements of few Beatles songs in Georgian traditional harmonies.  "Golden Fleece" will be also performing at the National Folk Festival in Canberra during the Easter.

Stephen Morey (LaTrobe University, Research Centre for Linguistic Typology)

reports from Assam that in January he was able to complete the translation of a Singpho Saga, called Hka Yawng Ningkin in Singpho language and running for 40 minutes. Sitting with an elder of the Singpho, Gumgi Gumhtoi, from 7 in the morning until 11 and then from 3 until 8 - sometimes with no light and the computer battery running down to zero. The story is, not surprisingly, a love story. When the young man arrives at the home of his lover he can't in, because the way is barred, so he stands in a muddy buffalo pen, hitching up his lungi to avoid getting it dirty. She sees him and this really gets her interested, so she invites him in!

An old recording of such a song, accompanied by some kind of reed instrument has been found and digitised. We don't know if anybody can still play this instrument and sing with it, but lets hope.

Cathy, I was so pleased to finish this bit of translation that I have to share it with people who might be interested!


Helen Pausacker , located at the Asian Law Centre at the University of Mebourne, is   one of the first western women  dhalang,  a  leading member of the Melbourne Community Gamelan ( a leader of the University of Melbourne Indonesia Forum, and an advocate for the Melbourne gamelan for many years; her research  is focused on the translation of Indonesian legal texts.

Gamelan activities around Australia are reported in Swara Bendhe: contact  the Editor, Linda Hibbs at for more information and to find out how to subscribe to this excellent publication.

Helen Pausacker has provided this report on 2006  community Gamelan activities at Melbourne:

Melbourne Community Gamelan

Melbourne Community Gamelan (MCG) performs musical pieces from Solo (Central Java). The group is taught by Ki Poedijono. Our first performance for the year was on Monday 13 February in the Berkeley Street room, when we held an informal soirée, with the focus being on rotating on different instruments to our ‘regular’ instruments.  We began practising on a variety of instruments about a year ago, with the first half hour of each practice being devoted to learning new instruments.

On Saturday 4 March, we performed in blistering heat for the development group, Plan International, at their outdoor children’s international picnic.  Luckily Plan provided us with drinks between brackets and Plan International caps for those who had left their hats at home.

On Saturday 13 May we staged a wayang (shadow puppet performance) in the Berkeley Street room.  Wayang performances in Java go all night, but we limited ourselves to about two and a half hours.  Helen Pausacker was the dhalang (puppeteer), performing the lakon Dewa Ruci, where the hero seeks the truth about the world by going up a volcanic mountain and to the bottom of the ocean.

Between Friday 7 to Monday 10 July we were privileged to take lessons from a visiting dhalang, Ki Joko Susilo.  We hope to accompany a wayang performance by Pak Joko in the next year or two.

MCG is seeking two new musicians in 2007.  Previous gamelan or percussion instrument experience is desirable.  The group practices on Mondays 6.00-8.30 pm.  We are also seeking 2-4 male singers, who would need to attend fortnightly practices at the same time.  Anyone who is interested can contact us by email:  See our website:

Gamelan Degung

A report will appear in the next Newsletter.

Putra Panji Asmara

Putra Panji Asmara (PPA) performs musical pieces from Cirebon (a coastal West Javanese town), with a focus on music to accompany topeng (masked dance).  This year we recorded a CD on Saturday 27 May at SBS studios.  Sadly, we received news of the earthquake in Yogyakarta, Central Java, as we emerged from the recording studio.

Joint performances

All gamelan groups in Melbourne (about seven) met for the annual Gathering of the Gamelan at the Indonesian Consulate on Sunday 5 March.  In addition to MG, PPA and Melbourne Gamelan Degung (MGD), we were joined by two other Central Javanese groups and two Balinese groups.  The Gathering of the Gamelan provides an opportunity not just for the audience to sample a different gamelan from various areas, but also for the members of different groups to hear each others’ work and to mix socially.

On Sunday 23 July MCG took part in the Gamelan in the Gallery.  This second performance in the Gallery’s Great Hall featured MCG and two other the two other Central Javanese gamelan groups – Permai and Yarragam.

On Friday 27 October The Central Javanese group, Permai, at the Indonesian Consulate, to accompany a wayang performance by a visiting dhalang, Ki Soemardi. About six members of MCG joined Permai for this performance.

On Wednesday 15 November PPA and Melbourne Gamelan Degung combined for a concert ‘Music and Dance from West Java’, sponsored by the University of Melbourne’s Indonesia Forum.


Kirsty Gillespie (PhD Candidate, Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University) writes

It is wonderful to hear that all is going well in ethnomusicology down in Melbourne. I've just gotten back from the SEM conference in Hawai'i. It was a great event, with around 25 Australians attending. Following that we had a 3 day meeting of the ICTM Study Group for the Musics of Oceania, which was fantastic.

I would like to let you know of a book which this above study group is putting out. You might be interested in circulating the flyer or ordering a copy for your library. I've attached an order form (pdf file), though a price has not been set as yet.

Linda Barwick  kindly provides the following information:

Papers presented by Australian ethnomusicologists at the Society for Ethnomusicology Conference , Hawai’i November 2006, AUSTRALIA

Australian National University

  • Helen Black, “Matanitu (Government) and the Meke: The Sociopolitical Tool in Fijian Negotiation.”
  • Kirsty Gillespie “Tradition and modernity in the music of a Papua New Guinean Community.”
  • Roald H. Maliangkay “Workers, Middlemen and their Masters’ Voice: Korean SPs from the Japanese Occupation Period.”
  • Stephen Wild, Presenter at Plenary session – “Whose Asia-Pacific?: Representation and Presentation in Ethnomusicology.”

Central Queensland University

  • Lyn Costigan “ Doing the Torres Strait Hula: Adopting and Adapting 'Hula' within Torres Strait Islander Performance Culture in Australia.”
  • Karl Neuenfeldt “Seaman Dan presents “Saltwater Songs: Indigenous Maritime Music from Tropical Australia”

Charles Darwin University

  • Sally Treloyn  “Musical Structure and Cosmology: Ngarinyin Junba Composition/Performance.”

Macquarie University

  • Denis Crowdy “From Black Magic Woman to Black Magic Men: Sanguma Performing Papua New Guinea.”

Monash University

  • Margaret Kartomi, Program committee
  • Graeme Smith “The Voice of the Land: National and Indigenous Identity and Authority in Australian Country Music.”
  • Nino Tsitsishvili  “Reproducing and Transforming Gender Practices in the Post-Soviet Georgian Rock Music.”
  • Zheng-Ting Wang “Cross-Cultural Elements in the Fantasie for Erhu (Chinese Fiddle) and Spectra for Sheng (Chinese Mouth Organ).”

University of Adelaide

  • Shelley Brunt “Battling Sex, Performing Gender: Scenes from a Japanese Popular Song Contest.”

University of New England

  • Therese Burton  “Civil Morality, Nation-Building and Japanese School Song Texts in the Early Twentieth Century.”
  • Hugh de Ferranti  “Modern Times Beyond Tokyo: Musical Life in Japanese Cities During the Interwar Period.”

University of New South Wales

  • John Napier “What you will hear of the wedding of God, tonight: Text and Tune Interactions in a Performance of a Jogi Kath‰ by Kishori Nath of Alwar District, Rajasthan.”

University of Sydney

  • Linda Barwick “Reduplication in Murriny Patha Djanba Songs in Relation to Musical Patterning.”
  • Allan Marett, Participant in Forum/Roundtable - The Role of History in Ethnomusicology
  • Kathryn Marsh  “Cross-cultural Transmission and Variability in Children’s Musical Play: A Case Study.”


  • Riley Lee (ex University of Sydney), International Shakuhachi Masters Concert


University of Auckland

  • Gregory Booth, Program Committee
  • Mona-Lynn Courteau “Musical Performance, Identity Construction, and the Production of Brazil in Auckland, New Zealand.”
  • Richard Moyle  “Reality and Ideology -- Barrier and Bridge.”
  • Kirsten Zemke-White “This is my life”: Biography, Identity and Narrative in “New Zealand Born” Pacific Rap Songs.”

University of Otago

  • Dan Bendrups  “Ethnomusicology of the Individual: A Biography of Rapanui Master Musician Kiko Pate.”
  • Henry Johnson  “(Per)Forming Chinese Cultural Identity at a New Zealand Secondary School: A Case-Study of the Lion Dance.”


  • Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal (Artistic Director, Orotokare: Art, Story, Motion) “Te Whare Tapere: Towards Indigenous Theatre and Performing Arts in New Zealand.”


Yale University (ex University of Sydney),

  • Sarah Weiss “Translation without Words: On Reception and Robert Wilson’s I La Galigo.”

University of Illinois

  • Gabriel Solis “Dreaming in Public: Music, Dance, and the Representation of Aboriginal Culture in Contemporary Australia.”
  • Jennifer Fraser (ex University of Sydney) “From the Highlands to the Metropolis: Traversing Aesthetic and Discursive Distance in West Sumatra.”

Report on ARC Discovery Grant

Acoustical, psycho-acoustical and musicological factors in musical ensemble design.
Dr Neil McLachlan, Dr Sarah Wilson and Prof Cathy Falk

Overview of 2006 activities by Dr Neil McLachlan

This project commenced in March 2006 with ARC Discovery funding. The primary aim is to design a few variants of a new tuned percussion ensemble for use in professional performance, classroom music education and music therapy.

At this early stage a few primary developments have occurred. Prototype metalophones with quasi-harmonic overtones have been designed and manufactured. This instrument is ready for large scale manufacture. Gongs and bells with harmonic overtones have been designed for low cost manufacture from sheet metal, and problems associated with their manufacture have been identified. New computational design methods are currently being developed to overcome these problems and two new PhD students will be working on this in the Engineering Faculty at Melbourne University commencing in 2007. Melbourne Ventures, the commercialization arm of the University are exploring avenues with Dr McLachlan to ensure the successful commercialization of the instrument designs.

Being able to quantify the perception of instrumental sounds is important in establishing design criteria. To this end new neurological computer models of auditory perception are being developed that can predict human behavior. A new pitch model has been developed and has successfully predicted a wide range of features of human pitch perception. This model will be presented at the Neurological Psychoacoustics Workshop held by the Bionic Ear Institute in January 2007, and will be applied to Indonesian gamelan instruments in 2007. A new Masters student in the Department of Psychology will be undertaking a series of human behavioral studies based on hypotheses arising from the model.

The musicological basis for the instrument design has to date been largely based on implicit knowledge acquired by Dr McLachlan over many years of professional experience in tuned percussion ensemble performance and education. However this year Dr McLachlan presented a paper at the Post-modernism and Music conference held at Melbourne University and will be exploring further opportunities to systematically develop the conceptual framework for the ensemble within musicological academic journals and conferences.

Other activities include 6 international conference presentations in Korea, Vienna, Honolulu, Sydney and Melbourne, and a bell design workshop by invitation of KAIST in Korea in 2006. Three journal publications are under review in international journals and one paper was published in 2006.





top of pagetop of page

Contact Us | Faculty of Music FAQs and Enquiries

Contact the University : Disclaimer & Copyright : Privacy : Accessibility