Plenary - Musicological Society of Australia

CHARISMA%20LOGO%20WEB%20SMALL.JPG Plenary Speakers


2014 | 37th National Conference of the MSA | The Charisma of Dissonance

Wyselaskie Auditorium & CTM Lecture Rooms, 29 College Crescent, Parkville

29 November - 2 December 2014.


Vincent Plush


PATRICK WHITE: Composer manqué

Always something of a frustrated painter, and a composer manqué, I wanted to give  (Voss) the textures of music, the sensuousness of paint, to convey through the theme and characters of Voss what Delacroix and Blake might have seen, what Mahler and Liszt might have heard. (Patrick White, in Australian Letters, volume 3, 1957)

For virtually his entire life, music played an important part in the life of Patrick White (1912-1990), best known as Australia’s only Nobel Laureate in Literature. Patrick White was an ardent and vocal proponent of Australian literature, drama, film, art and social issues. Less well known was his interest in music – initially in European opera and symphonies, later chamber music, and, quite late in life, in music by contemporary Australian composers. This presentation explores Patrick White’s often tempestuous relationships with various Australian composers. It also suggests that, had he had the technical means, White might have dispensed with composers altogether, composing with the sounds in his highly developed musical imagination.


For over 40 years, VINCENT PLUSH pursued a professional career as composer, writer, broadcaster, educator, festival director and conductor, each dimension animated by a passion for Australian music history and research. He is also known for his interest in contemporary American music (he lived and worked in North America for nearly 20 years) and a number of Australian heritage composers, notably Percy Grainger.


John Griffiths


The Scholar's Compass: Finding true north on the sea of evolving dissonance



JOHN GRIFFITHS holds honorary professorships in music and languages at Monash and The University of Melbourne universities, and a research position at the Centre d’Etudes Superieures de la Renaissance in Tours. He was Professor or Music and head of Early Music for many years at the University of Melbourne and President of the MSA during 2007-2008, and remains an active performer of historical instruments such as the lute and the vihuela. This paper reflects on the development of his research on music in 16th-century Spain —music, social history, performance practice, digital humanities— during the last 40 years in the context of the trends and transformations that have occurred in the discipline of musicology during that time.


Bruce Johnson


‘Not as bad as it sounds’: the dissonance of musical experience.


Formerly Professor in English, BRUCE JOHNSON is now Adjunct Professor, Contemporary Music, Media, Communications, Cultural Studies, Macquarie University; Visiting Professor, Music, University of Glasgow; Docent and Visiting Professor, Cultural History, University of Turku. His research lies in acoustic cultural history and the role of sound in the emergence of modernity. His authored and edited publications include The Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz, Dark Side of the Tune: Popular Music and Violence (with Martin Cloonan); Earogenous Zones: Sound, Sexuality and Cinema. A jazz musician, broadcaster, record producer and arts policy advisor, he was prime mover in the establishment of the government funded Australian Jazz Archives, and co-founder of the International Institute for Popular Culture based in Turku, Finland.