42nd MSA Conference – Melbourne 2019 “Conflict / Collaboration”

5-7 December 2019, Monash University Clayton Campus, Vic

Convenor: Cat Hope
In conjunction with the 18th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance

5-7 December 2019

MONASH University
Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University Clayton Campus

Congratulations to all delegates for papers well presented and many thanks to the volunteer helpers, headed by Gay Breyley. It was a fabulous conference and symposium.

We look forward to 2020 at the University of Melbourne

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In recognising the challenges of a contemporary world where traditional cultural, social and geographical boundaries are regularly broken down and new ones set up, we have created a conference theme that juxtaposes two apparently opposing ideas – conflict and collaboration – to contemplate the consequences for art and everyday life. In music-related contexts we seek answers to the questions: what is the nature of conflict and its consequences; what is the nature of collaboration and its consequences; what happens when conflict and collaboration intersect?

In addition to presentations that address the conference theme, and in keeping with the MSA’s objective of supporting all Australian music researchers and their current projects, other music-related research papers will also be presented

Keynote Speakers

Margaret Kartomi

“Stories from the wilds and settled areas in a half-century of ethnomusicological fieldwork, and the stress of our present existential crisis”

Margaret Kartomi is an ethnomusicologist specialising on Indonesia and Southeast Asia and the world authority on the music of Sumatra. After accepting an Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Research Fellowship at Monash University in 1969 and researching children’s songs in the Western Desert and beyond, she was appointed Lecturer in 1971, Senior Lecturer in 1972, and Reader in 1974, during which time she pioneered and promoted the teaching and performance of Asian music at Monash. In 1987-88 she took leave without pay and accepted a temporary professorship at the University of California at Berkeley. On her return to Monash she was appointed Professor and Head of Monash University’s Music Department in 1989, and in 2005 accepted a professorial fellowship at Monash.

Throughout the 1990s, she introduced and established the Music Department’s classical and jazz performance and composition streams alongside the existing musicology and ethnomusicology units in the Bachelor of Arts, and established the Department’s first symphony orchestra which continues today as the Monash Academy Orchestra. She established the new Bachelor of Music degree and several double degrees as well as the Master of Music Education and added the PhD degrees in performance and composition to the existing PhD offerings in musicology and ethnomusicology. The Department adopted a new integrated approach to teaching and research that aimed to balance its performance, composition, musicology and ethnomusicology components.

In 1975 she founded the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU), which at present houses an invaluable collection of rare music, dance, theatre and martial art treasures from around the world. Its vision is to continue to collect, preserve, maintain and promote humanity’s sound and material art heritage, and to continue to provide access to its archival holdings, both on site and on line, for the global research and creative arts community.

The recipient of many Australian Research Grants from 1975 to the present, Margaret Kartomi has an international reputation for research and scholarship, as exemplified by her 10 authored or edited books, more than 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and 9 annotated vinyl records and compact discs of ethnographic music recordings produced by publishing houses and record labels of high international reputation.

Her research reputation rests partly on her interdisciplinary theoretical contributions to musicology and ethnomusicology (including in organology, culture contact, historical musicology, and performativity theory) and partly on the published outcomes of her decades of music-ethnographic research throughout many parts of Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Her publications are prescribed reading in ethnomusicology courses around the world, including her books On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments (1990), The Gamelan Digul and the Prison Camp Musician who Built It (2002, transl. 2005), and Musical Journeys in Sumatra (2012). Her most recent book is titled Performing the Arts of Indonesia: Malay Identity and Politics in the Music, Dance and Theatre of the Riau Islands (2019), of which she is editor and part-author.

Margaret Kartomi served twice as National President and as convenor of National Conferences of the Musicological Society of Australia and was elected Australia’s representative on the Directorium of the International Musicological Society in the 1980s and 1990s. She was also elected foreign Corresponding Member of the American Musicological Society and Member of the Council of the Society for Ethnomusicology in the 1980s to 2010s. She convened three international and national musicological conferences for the IMS and MSA and, in the 2010s, five conferences on the music-cultures of Sumatra, Indonesia. A Festschrift written by research colleagues and former students in her honour was presented to her on her 65thbirthday in 2005.

In 1989 she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and in 1991 a Member of the Order of Australia, receiving the Centenary Medal for services to Australian society and the humanities in 2004. In 2011 she was awarded an Order from the Government of Lampung for her Sumatra research with the title Ratu Berlian Sangun Anggun (Beautiful Queen Jewel). In 2016 she received the Sir Bernard Heinze Award for ‘outstanding contributions to music in Australia’; the International Fumio Koizumi Award for Ethnomusicology; and the Indonesian government’s Cultural Award for Traditional Indonesian Arts Research; and in 2018 she won the Australia Indonesia Prize for contributions to Australian-Indonesian Relations (research division).

She has supervised 48 PhD, Masters and Honours Research students to completion, many of whom have been teaching, researching and/or promoting music in Australia or overseas.

In her 50th year of employment at Monash University in 2019, she continues to direct the Music Archive of Monash University, carry out ethnomusicological fieldwork, supervise HDR students, and to lead ARC-funded teams of international and Australian scholars to research and publish on the performing arts of Sumatra.

Kerry Murphy (University of Melbourne)

“Conflict or inspiration? Transnationalism in Australian musical worlds: 1880-1935”

Kerry Murphy is Professor of musicology at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests focus chiefly on opera, 19th-century French music and music criticism and colonial Australian music history and she has published widely in these areas. She is currently researching the impact of travelling virtuosi and opera troupes to Australia and the Australian music publisher and patron, Louise Hanson-Dyer. She is a member of the Australian Academy of Humanities and the Victoria Green Room Awards Opera Panel.


Transnationalism has been a significant topic in ethnomusicology for many years now, especially in relation to immigrant communities and it is increasingly a topic in musicology.

Alexis Bergantz (2017) notes the importance of going beyond “stating the fact of transnationality …[to] explaining its modalities and meanings”. This paper offers some generic and theoretical conclusions about the importance of transnationalism in Australian musical worlds between 1880 and 1935 through the exploration of two case studies on transitional movement between France and Australia in the colonial period and the early twentieth century. I look first at travelling French musicians who came to Australia and then the work of the extraordinary musical activist, patron and music publisher, Louise Dyer (1884-1962) who settled in France in 1929.

Travelling artists were by nature cosmopolitan figures. Although the French travellers who came to Australia projected an international persona, they also tended to be intensely patriotic, even evangelical in their promotion of French music and institutional and pedagogical values.  Many ended up settling in Australia for a considerable period of time and saw themselves as connecting Australia to the European world and, in particular, a world beyond the British Empire. There were conflicts and often a degree of paternalism but also positive engagements and collaborations with Australians.

As Catherine Speck (2013) states, it is possible to see expatriatism not “as a deliberate turning of one’s back on” home, but as “a dialectic process between home and away”. Rather than see Louise Dyer’s move to France as potentially setting up conflicts between Australia and France, I show how she shared with Australians all she was doing in France, and maintained a continuing presence in Australian cultural life even when absent. Through active membership of a number of international organizations aimed at cultural exchange and other personal initiatives, she aimed to bring French culture to Australia and she can be seen as a fierce and inspirational transnational cultural force in the 1930s in Australia.