Musical Dialogues: 38th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia

Call for Papers

Musical Dialogues: 38th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia

Deadline: 1 April 2015

Conference Dates: 1-4 October 2015

Venue: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney, Australia



In 2015, the year of its centenary, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is delighted to host the annual conference of the Musicological Society of Australia. The conference invites participants to consider how the idea of ‘dialogue’ is relevant to their musical research interests. Whether conceived of in terms of the relationship between a creator and her audience, between a work and its historical antecedents, between different music cultures, or between performance and research, the notion that art involves dialogue of some kind is commonplace. Indeed, in the globalised world in which we live, dialogue between different musical traditions, different traditions of thought and different methodological approaches actively works to reshape the ways in which we both create and understand music and has given rise to recent calls for relational musicology.


Plenary Speakers

We are pleased to announce that two of the plenary speakers are already confirmed. They are Gary Tomlinson (John Hay Whitney Professor of Music & the Humanities, Yale University), and Neal Peres Da Costa (Associate Professor, Historical Performance, Sydney Conservatorium of Music).


Conference Theme

The theme “Musical Dialogues” seeks to engage with and showcase a wide breadth of scholarly expertise. This might involve a consideration of the way dialogue takes place in musical collaborations, performer-composer interactions, or the critical and hermeneutic discourse that has sprung up around many types of music. Participants might also consider exploring dialogues across history (not forgetting that the present changes the past as much as the past influences the present) or how a composer, work, or practice can be understood as a response to past phenomena, be they musical, cultural or social. Other types of dialogue for consideration might be those that take place between different traditions that co-exist within the same geographical space: settler societies such as Australia have a rich heritage of such cross-cultural interactions.


We particularly welcome papers addressing the following topics, though these are only suggestions and should not constrain authors.

  • Australian music: intercultural and intra-cultural exchanges
  • Performance as dialogue (with the composer/work/audience)
  • Temporal intersections: music of the past in the present; new musics in the context of their pasts
  • Global musical dialogues
  • Musical institutions as they engage with their social contexts
  • Discourses in music theory and historiography
  • Popular music as social discourse
  • Jazz scenes, communities and practices
  • Sound and image: dialogues between music and the visual – iconography, film, gaming

Free papers are also welcome.


Guidelines for Applicants

Scholars are invited to submit 250-word abstracts for individual presentations related to the conference sub-topics listed above or in the category of “free paper” to the following email address All submissions must be received by 1 April 2015 and will be acknowledged with a receipt to sender. The conference format will provide each successful applicant with 20-minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for Q&A. Applicants will be informed of acceptance by 29 April 2015.


The planning committee will also accept proposals for panel sessions related to the conference theme. Proposals for panel sessions should be 250-words in length, include a full list of panel members and be submitted as per the guidelines outlined above.


Special Events

A variety of performances will be held during the conference. A highlight will be a new Noh (shinsaku Nô) play in English by Allan Marett to be presented by members of The Oppenheimer Noh Project during the conference. Entitled “Oppenheimer,” the play focuses on the development and use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Conference registrants will be offered tickets to this event at a specially discounted price.


Planning Committee

Linda Barwick, Christopher Coady, David Larkin, Alan Maddox and Kathleen Nelson


For further information please contact Christopher Coady ( or Kathleen Nelson (