Degree Name

Master of Creative Arts - Research


Faculty of Creative Arts


Composers and musicians often generate musical ideas by using numerical series as part of their pre-­‐compositional process. The sources of these number series vary greatly and the processes applied tend to be highly personalized. This research project focuses on how I have developed a range of new music compositions that are based on number concepts employed by Australian composer and performer, Greg Sheehan.

Sheehan writes percussion music that draws on his exposure to, and experience with, Asian-­‐Pacific music traditions. He employs a range of number series in his music and has created compositional concepts such as ‘number diamonds’ to generate rhythmic structures and motifs. Sheehan’s work has been influential amongst drummers and a small field of Australian musicians; however, his ideas are concentrated on percussion music exclusively.

This exegesis investigates how the Sheehan number series are derived, developed and applied in his selected works. I transcribed and analysed several of his recorded works and held discussions directly with him. The results obtained from this research reveal that Sheehan uses number series to compose the rhythmic aspects of a piece. Other musical parameters, however, such as form, pitch and harmony have not been informed by this process. In response to these findings I have composed and produced a portfolio of new musical works that extends Sheehan’s concepts to these broader musical parameters. The distillation of local musical influences, including Asian and Pacific musical approaches, has blended with my own artistic interests and strengths and this has informed the resulting creative work. These are presented on the CD that accompanies this exegesis as well as being available for listening at

FoR codes (2008)

190406 Music Composition



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.