Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts - Research


Faculty of Creative Arts


I am an Australian-born composer of Maltese heritage; my musical compositions are expressions that contain elements of my dual upbringing. Maltese folk music (ghana) features components found in traditional Western music and music of the Middle East. Wounding Song is an opera that combines traditional Western music theory with elements of Middle Eastern music.

The fusion of contrasting musical systems raises issues of theory, practice and cultural sensitivity. These issues must be addressed: first, to create a unified work that encompasses the disparate musical elements into a successful composition; and second, to ensure that they are used sensitively and appropriately in the dramatic and social context of the work. The present research addresses the theoretical and practical approach taken in combining the various musical elements for Wounding Song to achieve these goals.

The elements addressed here include traditional Western harmony (major/minor scales and “church” modes), 12-tone serial methods, Middle Eastern/Turkish makams (comparable to scales in Western music theory) and Maltese folk songs. The successful fusion of these elements was achievable largely because much of the material shared common intervals. All the material was organised into trichords and tetrachords, which in turn generated the melodic and harmonic material for the entire work.

Ultimately the scales, modes, makams and 12-tone rows were all generated from the same twelve notes of the chromatic scale, regardless of their particular arrangement or grouping. This common source of material supported the cohesiveness required.

Wounding Song was performed at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in 2008. The result was a successful season in terms of both the quality of the performances and the work’s acceptance within the Maltese community, whose members supported the project from the beginning.