Tim Tate: Reimagining redundant technologies as a catalyst for new compositional techniques (PhD)

Redundant audio technologies including magnetic-tape, turntables and early samplers are classed as low fidelity audio technologies. Today a minority of practitioners favour these technologies, using hacking/circuit bending techniques to build new instruments, yet their main use lie in performance and installation environments. This project serves to reimagine these redundant technologies as instruments for live performance and tools for sonic transformation, acting as catalysts for new compositional techniques. The reimagining of these technologies as instruments, and the resulting compositional techniques, will be documented alongside their use in a portfolio of creative practices and a written thesis and an interactive website.

Nava Ryan: Acoustic and Electronic Music Performance: Interfaces for Ensemble Interaction (PhD)

The term ‘augmented instrument’ refers to a traditional instrument that has been fitted with sensors. Examples of such sensors include ultrasonic sensors, which measure the distance to an object using ultrasonic sound waves, and three-axis accelerometers which measure accelerations that take place in relation to the three Cartesian coordinate axes (x, y & z). By affixing such sensors to acoustic instruments, it becomes possible to capture performer gesture information and use this data creatively to control electronic multimedia including video, sound and lighting. This research is primarily focused on contributing knowledge through creative, augmented performance practices in an ensemble format.


David Chechelashvili: Developing Compositional Strategies for a Modular Synthesizer

This PhD project investigates musical composition using a Eurorack modular synthesizer system. The intention is to explore the compositional affordances and limitations of this instrument through composing a series of musical works. A modular synthesizer is a dynamic musical instrument — it lends itself to being updated and modified to suit a composer’s current needs. I am interested in exploring the relationship between the composer and the instrument given the instrument’s mutability. The compositions developed during this project will be primarily electronic, resulting from a novel compositional approach involving multi-parameter control of modular synthesizers through computer software generating serialized data. Modular systems have become very accessible and are more popular than ever before, however, compositional theory in this area is limited. The recent rise in interest in modular synthesis provides fertile ground to carry out this work. Findings of the project will offer further insights the nature of the relationship between the composer and a musical instrument and also into compositional strategies that complement this particular instrument.

Kevin Purcell: Remediating Live Orchestra and Opera as Conjoint New Media Experiences Through Curatorial Design (DMA)

This research will develop design practices, or strategies, that provide relevant, creative solutions to expand the live orchestral and musical theatre experience beyond the common practice of stage performance alone. The intention is to put audiences at the heart of flexible, personalized, digitally-delivered, media experiences in entirely new ways with responsive storytelling conjointly integrated with live performance. It is proposed this can be achieved either by remediating the live presentation of music for orchestra and the theatrical stage as asynchronous multi-platform storytelling narratives or, synchronously, during live-performance.


Dr Richard Frenneaux (PhD): Networked digital culture: Co-creation and its effects on the creator and creative process within the music industry

This research aims to provide a clearer understanding of the impact of digital networked participatory culture on the creator and on the creative process within the context of the music industry. Artists today are expected to adapt to a rapidly shifting market, where music platforms and consumption patterns are constantly changing. Not only is it important to understand the impact of digital culture on the music creator today, but also to forecast where value within creative exchange is moving, and the extent of its artistic and commercial value. While there has been a great deal of published work examining the impact of participatory exchange on the consumer and on the music industry (e.g. Negus, 2015; Wikström, 2014; Choi & Burnes, 2013), there is very little published work regarding the impact on the creator. Given the extent and pace of change as well as the volume of platforms emerging that hope to harness the potential for participatory exchange, it is timely to undertake a study of the impact on the creator, framed around my own experience as an artist and producer.


Dr Sean Foran (DMA): Improvisation with technology in a jazz context through composition, performance and recording

This project investigates the process of creating new works for two jazz trio ensembles, with a particular emphasis on improvisation with acoustic instruments and technology. Utilising a practice-based research model the project documents and outlines the conceptual basis for the work, reflects on a series of public performances and examines studio recording sessions. By analysing the musical content, use of technology, and the musician’s reflections on their decision-making, the overall goal is to articulate the musical potential of improvising with technology in a jazz context.


Dr Nicole Carroll (PhD):  Orrery Arcana: Musical Materiality through Esoteric Devices, a self-made modular hardware controller and software system for real-time audio-visual performance.

Nicole successfully defended her PhD in Computer Music and Multimedia at Brown University (USA) in October 2019 and began a job at The University of Newcastle, Australia in 2020. Nicole took several graduate classes that I taught at Brown 2014-15 and from June 2017 to August 2018 was based in Brisbane as Adjunct Research Fellow at QCGU. During this time she collaborated on a number of research projects, contributed significantly to the Higher Degree by Research community, was involved in undergraduate teaching/demonstration, and developed the main practical component of her PhD: Orrery Arcana. Although I often acted in a supervisory capacity, my official role 2015-2019 was reader on the PhD project.   

“Orrery Arcana is a system for real-time audio-visual performance. The system includes a self-made modular hardware controller and custom software that allows the performer to manipulate sound during performance. The hardware controller is used to navigate systems that encompass chance operations, conceptual mapping, and data mapping, to control audio generation and processing. These process systems are based on NASA lunar data, the esoteric system in W.B. Yeats’ (1865-1939) A Vision (1937), and the numerology and symbolism of the tarot.”

Greg Olley (Honours): Exploring the Compositional Possibilities of Sampling Pre-Existing Audio Using a Self-Designed Audio Recognition System

This study explored the compositional possibilities of pitch-based samples. Pitch recognition and sampling technology were used to create a software tool that analysed an audio source and exported samples that matched a pitch specified by the user. These samples were then used as material to compose a portfolio of music that reacted to the challenges posed by this novel approach to sample collection. These compositions and a reflective journal were analysed to study the effects of using this method on my compositional process. This information was used to detail my developing creative processes as well as describe some considerations for other composers interested in this method of sampling.

Isaac Cavallaro (Masters): Developing an Idiolect for the Augmented Drumset: Exploring Music-Making as a Solo Percussionist

This project examines the integration of the MIDI keyboard alongside the Traditional Drumset (TD) and suggests that the continual renewal of technology has both shaped the TD and led to the integration of digital technologies. Using a practice-led research model along with action research, this project offers TD practitioners new tools for developing a solo percussion practice using what I call the Augmented Drumset (AD). The primary aim is to develop an idiolect for the AD; achieved through playing, practising, and composing for the AD, devising six parameters, resulting in an iterative process termed the Augmented Drumset Iterative Cycle (ADIC). The ADIC represents one of the three primary outcomes of this research in addition to two original compositions. An important undercurrent throughout this work is the desire for all sound to be a consequence of embodied movement, allowing the compositions to be performed in real-time and not from leveraging any programmed sequences or backing tracks. In addition to this text, a range of scores, videos, and audio recordings are utilised to document and represent this project.

Daniel Phillip Field (Masters): A Real-Time Harmonically Responsive Algorithmic Melody Writing Assistant, Realised Using Procedural Programming with Interactive Control Parameters