"Through the Looking Glass"

41st MSA Conference

6-9 December 2018

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia

Convenor: Jonathan Paget

Proposal Submission Updated Deadline: 6 May 2018

The function of art has been considered a kind of mirroring, wherein art reflects the world (imitation for Aristotle; and a mirror revealing the world's virtues and flaws for Donatus, Cicero, and Hamlet). But like the various types of glass, music (or musicology) can reflect, colour, or distort meaning in a variety of ways. As suggested by the author of Corinthians, our perception can be clouded, such that we see as through a glass darkly. And sometimes, like Alice's fantastical wonderland, music not only holds up a mirror to society, but reveals something magical.

Delegates to the 2018 MSA National Conference are invited to consider how the theme of through the looking glass might apply to music and/or musicology. In what ways can music embed a deeper meaning hidden below the mirrored surface? To what extent do musicological paradigms reveal or distort our perceptions of music and its significations?

Topics related to this theme might include:

  • Music reflecting lived experience;
  • Music reflecting and/or subverting contemporaneous culture/s or politics;
  • Explorations of subjectivities and potential distortions inherent within musicological or analytical paradigms;
  • Investigations of the conjectural nature of musicological knowledge (from HIP studies, to artistic research in music, or other specialised areas);
  • Post-modern deconstructions or 'readings' of musical works;
  • Considerations of the mysterious nature of music's power or its social functions, including ethnomusicological studies;
  • The darkness of colonial histories;
  • Eco-musicology, music mirroring nature (or vice versa).


Key Note Speakers




Planning Committee

  • Jonathan Paget [Convenor] (WAAPA),
  • Stewart Smith (WAAPA),
  • Helen Rusak (WAAPA),
  • Victoria Rogers (WAAPA),
  • Cecilia Sun (UWA Con),
  • Nicholas Bannan (UWA Con),
  • Sarah Collins (UWA Con)

The 17th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance

The 17th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance will be held in association with the 41st MSA National Conference in Perth at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, on 6-9 December 2018. The Symposium will be convened by Aaron Corn and Clint Bracknell. The call for papers is now open until 19 April.

Reflecting this Conference's overarching theme, the Symposium invites proposals for presentations that explore mystery and power in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander song. While Indigenous song is frequently described as powerful, the nature of this power can be elusive and unquantifiable. Today, many songs themselves are elusive, and unable to be heard outside of archival recordings, if at all. In this context, presentations may seek to address broad questions including:

  • Is mystery integral to a song's power and, if so, how?
  • As song traditions become increasingly endangered, do songs become more or less powerful?
  • With few records or singers, how much can we really know about critically-endangered song traditions?
  • How can we, as individuals and communities involved in music revitalisation, be sure that we are engaging appropriately with old songs that may hold unknown power?
  • How can technology be leveraged to support the maintenance of mystery in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander songs?

Proposal Submissions

Abstracts for papers will be considered on all aspects of music studies (not restricted to the conference theme), including music history, music education, performance studies, composition, jazz and popular music, and ethnomusicology. Conference presentations may take one of the following forms:

  • Formal conference presentations (20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for questions)
  • Interactive workshops (30 minutes)
  • Lecture demonstrations/lecture recitals (20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for questions)
  • Panel sessions (up to three participants and 90 minutes in duration)

Proposals for panel sessions should include abstracts for individual papers (where applicable), as well as a proposal for the session itself (up to 250 words each).

All proposals must include a title, and supply five keywords below the abstract. Proposals must be submitted as Word files with the first three names of the title as the file name. As abstracts will be screened anonymously by the selection committee, please omit your name from the Word file.

Please submit your proposal via the form below on or before Midnight AEST Sunday 6 May 2018


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