… homespun song in Australia …

Posts tagged ‘music’

Australian Music at Llewellyn Hall, ANU Canberra

When I began Postgraduate composition studies at the Australian National University School of Music, Canberra in January 2020, my academic skills were, to say the least, a bit rusty. But having lived through and survived the Australian summer bushfire crisis, the effects of the devastating hailstorm that hit Canberra, and the Covid-19 pandemic that followed, in Semester 2 2020 I’m continuing with my Postgraduate studies, working at upgrading my academic and technology skills with expert help, ploughing on with composition, writing my thesis, and preparing video presentations.

Click on the link below to see what I’m doing at ANU this Semester.

https://music.cass.anu.edu.au/scholarship-spotlight-elizabeth-sheppard

ANU School of Music (aka Llewellyn Hall) and its web of dedicated multidisciplinary music performers and researchers, is both challenging and inspiring. ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop, Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt and Professor Kim Cunio are the driving forces behind this Australian Music School, that welcomes talented musicians from diverse backgrounds to explore, perform and develop uniquely Australian, and often cross-cultural, musical repertoires. Currently, ANU music students include hip hop artists, gaming music researchers, orchestral musicians, jazz musicians, community music specialists, audio engineering trainees, music therapists, Indigenous composers, opera singers, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, and diverse ethnic musicians who specialise in performing and recording culture-based traditional music. Their talent and diversity, together with the reliable support of the ANU School of Music admin and academic team, and the admin and academic Colleges that support them, makes every encounter, whether live, or on Zoom, an informative, productive, collaborative adventure.

So, on with the music!

Globalisation in Australian Church Music

The effect of globalisation on Australian Church music has been as dire as its effect on that Aussie icon, Vegemite. Although many talented Australian composers continue to produce uniquely Australian Church music in many genres, Australian Church music governing bodies and clergy pay minimal or no attention to local Australian Church music. In Australia, Church music licensing is dominated by globalised corporations who promote non-Australian Church music over the work of local Australian and Aboriginal composers. Australian Church music selection committees overwhelmingly favour non-Australian music over Australian Church music. Some Australian parish music programs use exclusively non-Australian music repertoires and genres. Infusions of forward-looking, hopeful, uniquely Australian musical expressions of Christian faith are rare, ephemeral, and are not included in music examination lists.

For insight into why this has happened, read Jeffrey Tucker’s 2002 article about a multinational corporate Church music publisher whose policies and business ethics are not in tune with Christian beliefs, principles or practice (see link below) http://www.crisismagazine.com/2009/the-hidden-hand-behind-bad-catholic-music

The globalisation of Church music is also discussed in depth by a shocked Richard Barrett on the Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (Orthodox Christian) blog – http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2013/01/29/the-hidden-hand-behind-bad-music-could-it-happen-here-american-catholic-worship-and-orthodoxy-in-america/

Church Music App-ologetics

Even in Church music, the smart phone app has its uses. Church music geeks compose and make music online as well as in real time, with human hands and feet and eyes and ears and voices.

The phenomenon of the virtual choir (if you don’t know about this, google Eric Whitacre) has blown preconceptions about tying Church music to a particular time and place, sky-high. Whatever the virtues of real-time interaction (which are unsurpassed, and should never be discounted), as Church musicians we are now stuck with the digital app addictions of the upcoming generation for a long time.

In cyberspace there’s an app for every task you can possibly imagine. Enterprising Church musicians design and market Church music apps, thereby solving their income problems forever. Apps help with a specific task, and can be uploaded to smart phones or computers quickly, and used immediately. For instance, I have a virtual piano keyboard on my iPhone that I use for composing.

This is not an app marketing blog, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. From time to time I’ll be reviewing Church music apps (e.g. ear training apps, chant databases, music theory apps) that I’ve found helpful and time-saving. Make your own judgements!

App-phobia has crept into the mindset of many Church musicians who

  • obsessively photocopy, distribute, retrieve and file print scores
  • don’t own a smart phone, or are computer-phobic
  • believe that Church music could never be improved by technology
  • devote no time to app discovery and selection
  • think that rehearsing well, with no technology aids, is sufficient

Changing deep-set attitudes like this takes miracles. Hang on, Christians believe in miracles!

If you have a music director that insists on making his and your job as difficult as possible by refusing to adapt to digital technology and app networking, or doing a go-slow on this,it might help to pray loudly and publicly about it.