At QCRC we are active community members

We seek to work hand-in-hand with communities to explore music’s role in promoting cultural and environmental sustainability, health equity and social justice. Within this area, we provide an activist space for researchers and community members to work on projects that harness music’s potential for addressing the most pressing issues of our time.

World-class research

Several major projects fall into our Music and communities research area, including five successive Australian Research Council Linkage Grants: Sound Links (on community music in Australia), Redefining Places for Art (on the shifting relationship between performance experience and location), Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures (on supporting communities to keep their musical practices strong), Captive Audiences (on performing arts programs in Australian prisons) and Creative Barkly (on the arts and cultural sector in the remote Northern Territory).

Focus area Co-convenor

Dr Catherine Grant is a music researcher at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, whose research focus is endangered music of Indigenous and minority communities. Her work is important to the revitalisation of traditional music, which assists in social cohesion, and a sense of individual and collective identity; in turn, this has benefits for the health and wellbeing of community members.

Focus area Co-convenor

Dr Naomi Sunderland has research interest in equity and diversity, First peoples social justice, music, health, and wellbeing, creative research.

Music and Communities

Music and Communities at QCRC

Meet Dr Catherine Grant, research area convenor of the Music and Communities focus area at Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre. Catherine discusses her research projects as well as other key collaborations in this exciting area of music research. To learn more about the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Google "QCRC Griffith".

Project highlights

Our projects embrace a wide range of contexts for music-making and sonic awareness. These include post-conflict societies, prisons, Indigenous communities, minority communities, and natural marine and terrestrial settings, as well as more traditional contexts such as concert halls, alternative music venues and festivals.

Creative Barkly

It is increasingly recognised that the arts and cultural sector plays a crucial role in regional development. However, very little is known about how this operates in Australia's remotest regions, where demographics of communities are vastly different from other regional centres. This Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Creative Barkly, examines how the arts and cultural sector is functioning in one of Australia’s most remote regions in the Northern Territory. It aims to deliver resources and recommendations that will inform current policies, strategies and initiatives in Barkly and beyond.

Full Report, Brochure, Fact Sheet Snapshot and Recommendations.

Team members: Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Naomi Sunderland, Sandy O'Sullivan (USC), Sarah Woodland  (Research Fellow)

Partners: Barkly Regional Arts and Regional Development Australia NT

Image: Barkly Artist Lindy Brodie at work on the Creative Barkly project logo. Image credit - Dr Sarah Woodland

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Documenting Angkuoch

Fewer than ten living instrument-makers of the musical instrument angkuoch are known across Cambodia, and the process of making it has never been documented in depth. Working with NGO Cambodian Living Arts, and in collaboration with three instrument-makers and players, this project (2019-2020) documented the sociocultural contexts of angkuoch and angkuoch-making in two village communities in Siem Riep province in the north of the country. A significant project outcome is the identification of the probable maker of the single angkuoch in the British Museum collection, donated over half a century ago without any attribution of the maker. The project has resulted in an 18-minute video documentary in Khmer with English subtitles, a bilingual booklet, and nearly 400 video, audio, image and text files of documentation, all accessible via local archives in Cambodia and the EMKP Digital Repository of the British Museum (UK). The project was funded by the Endangered Material Knowledge Program of the British Museum, with additional support from UNESCO (Cambodia). Team members: Dr Catherine Grant, Seng Song, Say Tola, Dika Thon, En Sormanak, Patrick Kersalé.

Image: SON Soeun playing Angkuoch Daek (iron Jew’s harp). Photo: Catherine Grant, 11 January 2020.

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Listening to Country

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are overrepresented in Australian prisons. The majority are mothers, experiencing the trauma associated with separation from family, community, and country. Listening to Country represented an innovative and creative approach to promoting cultural maintenance and wellbeing among mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers in prison.

The research used principles and processes from acoustic ecology, Indigenous story work, dadirri (deep active listening), and arts-led inquiry to explore notions of cultural connection and maintenance for the participants, and the effects of the project on their wellbeing.

This project responded to a direct request from a group of Aboriginal women at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre to create a culturally appropriate sound recording for the purpose of reducing stress and connecting to natural environments and to country. Funded by the Lowitja Institute, it was built on a strong foundation of previous creative engagement and consultation with women incarcerated in Queensland.

Team members: Sarah Woodland, Leah Barclay, Bianca Beetson (Queensland College of Art), and Vicki Saunders (QCRC Adjunct), with support from Aunty Melita Orcher and Aunty Estelle Sandow from the Brisbane Council of Elders.

Singing to Beat Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive condition that affects the brain with no known cure. This project explores the experience of singing in a group comprising people with Parkinson’s and their carers, and its effect on participants’ quality-of-life in terms of voice, communication, and psychosocial well-being. Singing groups have been set up in South East Queensland, with comparative projects underway internationally.

Team members: Dr Irene Bartleet, Professor Don Stewart, Dr Yoon Irons

Partners: Sydney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, UK; Peking University, Beijing; Ewha Womans University, Seoul

Sing to Connect

Sing to Connect is an ongoing research program aimed at enhancing wellbeing for pregnant women and new mothers through singing as a connective tool. Through the pilot edition of this initiative (Sept-Dec 2020), women from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds in the Logan area of South East Queensland were given an opportunity to connect with each other, their midwives, their babies, and precious aspects of their own culture, through weekly workshop sessions featuring lullabies, folk songs and storytelling. Two-hour-long workshop sessions seamlessly interwove singing with health information modules and midwife consultations, rendering the atmosphere both relaxed and generative. Led by QCRC researcher Dr Charulatha Mani, the project was funded by Logan City Council Community Projects Grant.

Partners: Metro South Health, Access Community Services.

Image: Relaxing after singing. Photo: Kuyili Karthik, 29 Sept. 2020.

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Living Heritage: The Artists of Cambodian Chapei

This project is a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, collaborative research venture bringing together researcher Catherine Grant (QCRC), documentary photographer Heather Faulkner (QCA), leading Cambodian writer So Phina (Cambodian Living Arts), and the Community of Living Chapei, a group of Chapei artists based in Phnom Penh. With Chapei formally recognised by UNESCO as in need of urgent safeguarding, this project aimed to contribute to local and international efforts to document, promote and celebrate this part of Cambodia’s living cultural heritage. The resulting artist book showcases the richness of this musical  and cultural tradition, unravelling the story of the charismatic contemporary performers, students, teachers, masters, and instrument-makers in whose hands lies the future of this art form.

Team members: Dr Catherine Grant, Dr Heather Faulkner, So Phina, Keat Sokim, Pich Sarath, members of the Community of Living Chapei

Partners: Cambodian Living Arts, Community of Living Chapei

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