Links Between the Neurobiology of Oxytocin and Human Musicality. Alan Harvey. Many characteristics of the biology of the hormone oxytocin mirror the diverse effects that music has on human cognition and emotion.

At moments like these, we need a cultural policy. Julian Meyrick, Julianne Schultz and Justin O’Connor. Despite the cultural sector’s especially perilous situation under COVID, the Commonwealth has shown little interest or concern.

INSIDE THE MUSICIAN. Cheetham, Deborah: One Day in January, Finding Dutala. Deborah Cheetham, pioneer of Australian Indigenous participation in classical music, describes circumstances and initiatives.

Kids who learn clause chain languages are quicker to develop complex sentences. Hannah Sarvasy. The structure of some languages advantages learning. (Are there parallels in music?)

Lost Operas of Oz. Stuart Maunder. State Opera of South Australia has committed to the second or subsequent production of 20C Australian operas.

INSIDE THE MUSICIAN. Perica, Vanessa: Freeing the Voice Within. Perica comes to public attention via a recording of her compositions by a superb jazz big band. She describes her musical world.

June 2020

The reconstructed Music in Australia Knowledge Base will launch on Friday June 5.

Some 450 articles on the Knowledge Base have been reorganised onto a new ‘tree of knowledge’. There will be two ways you can find what you need: one is to use the general SEARCH engine. The second is to find the best category or ‘domain’ on the tree, to suit your purposes.

Check out the ‘tree’ below.

So you could go to Domain 1, Music and Human Development, Health, and the articles relevant to that subject will come up. Or go to 1a, Music’s Effects on Human Development, and get the articles that fit that narrower specification. 1b is Music’s Effects on Health and Well-Being.

Then, within any of those categories, you can choose to see only the articles that set out issues of contention, or statistics, or research projects. There is also a ‘mapping’ option. If you chose, say ‘Orchestras’ and the mapping filter, you will discover what comprises the world of orchestras in Australia.

The Knowledge Base is a valuable resource and is used by people from around Australia and indeed, the world. About one third of the visitors are from overseas – some 60 countries. Currently, visits are running at the rate of about 70,000 per year.

So while most readers come from within Australia, foreigners are also using it to discover what is here, how it works, and perhaps whether they want to be involved with the Australian musical world, and how.

In a new addition, the INSIDE THE MUSICIAN articles published in Loudmouth over the last few years will also be found on the Knowledge Base. (Go to 7a.) To discover Australia’s musical world, overseas people can go to the maps or the statistics or the issues papers and get the descriptions of the institutions and the activities and the data. But as a quite different approach, they could read the articles written by the musicians and composers in the INSIDE THE MUSICIAN series, about their personal experiences and observations as Australian music practitioners.

For your interest, below are the main branches of the ‘tree’. On the Knowledge Base itself, click on the NAVIGATION button, and climb the tree to find your best vantage points.

You’ll see that there are FIVE main domains – A, B, C, D, E. To get to them, you sort of climb DOWN the tree. What you really want will probably be in the detail within those main domains.

Ahh, the musical world is so complicated. An arts person once said to me: ‘Music. Music’s like Africa!’

Music in Australia Knowledge Base

The Structure


The Knowledge Base has five principal domains.

(Music’s role in human development and well-being; education in music; music in society)

(The creation of music; musical genres; music theory, how music works, history.)

(Its economics, sources of information, legal issues, activities from live performance to online media, physical requirements, employment.)

(Governments’ relevant policies, regulation, financial involvement; politics.)

(International models and comparisons; Australia’s international activities.)

Under these domains there are sub-domains, and sub-sub-domains. Even a few sub-sub-sub-domains. So you can see all the parts of the music world and how they fit together. It could make searching so much more logical.

If you go to and click on STRUCTURE, you will see the entire tree – roots and branches. 

Click on NAVIGATION and you are able to go also to the leaves.

APRIL 2019



“If pouring more money into the system actually increases inequity, then that’s astounding from a social justice point of view,” says Glenn Savage, a senior lecturer in education policy at the University of Western Australia. “It means we’re using public money to continue the reproduction of advantage and disadvantage rather than creating more equality of opportunity, which is a major part of what education is supposed to do.”

Learn more…

MUSIC EDUCATION STRATEGY 2019 TO 2029, SOUTH AUSTRALIA is a policy document released by the Liberal government elected in 2018. In the Australian context, it is an unusual and rounded document showing the intentions of the government although not yet, therefore, the achievement. It gives some detail about various aspects of the program including the program to teach musical instruments, which has had something of a careening ride in recent decades.

Learn more…

The LABOR NATIONAL POLICY PLATFORM: POLICY FOR THE ARTS 2019 announces the Party’s intentions if it is elected in May. The arts policy is included in the overall policy platform, which seems to be a positive, normalising initiative. The first paragraph makes a statement about the arts, artists, their beneficial contribution to community and the economy, their utility… The other ‘planks’ of the policy set out intentions related to market, economic development, regulation such as copyright, the creative industries, cultural diversity, creativity, exports. Commentary by Richard Letts.

Learn more…

ARTS ELECTION POLICY OF NSW STATE LABOR PARTY, 2019, was announced in advance of the March election. It is based on a state parliamentary inquiry into an ailing commercial music industry, its main focus. It mentions broader arts policy but is not itself really an arts policy nor a music policy that goes far beyond popular music. As it turns out, Labor was not elected. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to occasionally have evidence that a political party has applied itself to the situation of music or the arts. Will the newly re-elected conservative government address some of the problems described here?

Learn more…

October, 2018


A SWOT analysis of jazz in Australia. This new study from the Music Trust outlines the activity in the Australian jazz sector and then analyses its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the external threats to its well-being. There is a basis here for a development strategy but the SWOT essentially leaves that to others. In very brief summary, the practice of the art form is assessed as robust and of high quality but its economic situation is weak. Opportunities for development are abundant but material support is lacking. There are some important external threats including a further loss of government support and regulatory threats to the operation, indeed existence, of jazz venues.

Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry: Final Report. Findings of the report include:

  • 44% of industry workers reported moderate to severe anxiety. This is ten times higher than the prevalence of anxiety in the general population.
  • An indicator of depression suggested levels in industry workers may be as much as five times higher than the general population.
  • Australian Entertainment Industry Workers experience suicidal ideation 5-7 times more than the general population and 2-3 times more over a lifetime.
  • Suicide planning for Australian Entertainment Industry workers is 4-5 times more than general population.

It has led to the development of programs and the paper has links to them.

Cultural data for each Australian electorate. The Australia Council has published a great interactive page online, Electorate Profiles. Readers can select any one of the 150 Commonwealth electorates and discover information of value to strategic planning for their personal or organisational use, or advocacy. The data include such things as population, arts attendances, attitudes to the arts, ticket-buying behaviour, links to other information and much more.

September 2018


David Pledger’s Cultural Revolution

The then Commonwealth Arts Minister George Brandis diverted a large portion of the budget of the national arts funding agency the Australia Council, which is a statutory authority with the right to decide the recipients of government arts funds without interference from the Minister, to his own Ministry. There, he could have direct control over those funding decisions. The statutory independence was intended to prevent funding decisions being made to serve a political purpose, whether that was to benefit supporters of government policies or to serve a minister’s personal ambitions.

So there were various reasons the arts community saw the actions as contrary to its own interests and to the interests of the Australia Council. It mounted a vigorous public campaign and actually was able to cause a Senate Inquiry into the Minister’s decisions. The campaign elicited a large number of official submissions from arts organisations and artists.

However, the Australia Council mounted no public advocacy on the matter, even though the Minister’s actions were against the artists’ perception of their own interests, and the Minister had taken action with treatment of the Australia Council that lacked even common courtesy.

Many in the arts community were very disappointed in the Australia Council’s decision not to oppose the Minister publicly. David Pledger published an article articulating that position and proposing some revolutionary changes to the Australia Council. A link is provided to Pledger’s article.

Here in the Knowledge Base, Richard Letts opposes Ledger’s position. Letts understands that his own position will not be popular among his colleagues, but believes that for the Australia Council to stand in opposition to its own minister could incite his revenge and that could damage the situation of the arts more than it does the Council.

David Pledger’s cultural revolution

SWOT Analysis of Art Music Composition in Australia

The SWOT analysis sets out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the composers of art music and their works. This is one of a set of papers in the Knowledge Base laying out the situation of many categories of musical activity.

The paper begins with a factual description of the situation of musical composition of art music (mainly new classical music and jazz) in Australia and proceeds from there to the analysis. Interested readers are invited to send in comments for possible addition to the paper.

SWOT Analysis of Art Music Composition in Australia

Australian National Arts Policy Making

This important paper, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ARTS POLICY, is primarily a description of the policy making process at the national level, the efforts by the arts sector to influence the outcomes and an overall assessment of the status and effectiveness of policy making.

It traces the history of arts policy making, the formation of arts policy and funding agencies, the processes that have been used by various governments to develop arts policy. It’s a very mixed picture. This is a very serious and detailed paper written by someone who has worked at a high level in various roles in the arts and brings personal knowledge as well as the fruits of broader study.

Australian National Arts Policy


June 2018

This month, four new papers have been added to the Knowledge Base.

10 WAYS TO SAVE LIVE MUSIC IN YOUR CITY outlines the strategies adopted for Melbourne by the industry and city and state governments.

Learn more…

INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY: WORKFORCE FOR THE NEW ECONOMY points to the obvious role of arts education in building an innovative workforce, and puts forward actions to be undertaken by a so far reluctant government.

Learn more…

According to OECD benchmarks, AUSTRALIA LAGS OTHER NATIONS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE, due above all to insufficient government funding.

Learn more…

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT MANIPULATION OF ARTS SUBSIDIES records changes made in the allocation of arts subsidies especially those previously diverted from management by the Australia Council to direct control by the Arts Minister.

Learn more…

May 2018


New South Wales Regional Conservatoriums: responding to school communities and state education policy. This paper offers key information about the 17 conservatoriums, unique in Australia. They are community owned, subsidised by the NSW government, and offer music lessons, ensembles to individuals and music education services on contract to some 400 schools. They are a source of expertise otherwise concentrated in the metropolitan area.

Learn more…

Promoting diversity of cultural expression in the arts in Australia is an official report on Australia’s implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, in the form of a set of case studies. This excerpt from the report focuses on the programs of Multicultural Arts Victoria, which gives special emphasis to music. It list the other seven programs in the report.

Learn more…

Cultural diversity in the creative sector: inching towards a more democratic culture, briefly summarises observations and proposals from leading thinkers on inclusion and representation of culturally diverse artists and arts practices within the creative sector in Sydney.

Learn more…

Ethnomusicology in Australia describes how and where the discipline is conducted and some of its more notable achievements. There is a related SWOT analysis of the sector.

Learn more…

April 2018

Detailed account and discussion of large-scale opera

Six papers on opera in Australia have been added to the Knowledge Base. The Commonwealth Minister for Arts instigated a review of the four main companies funded by the Commonwealth. The review panel commissioned a Discussion Paper which lays out a large amount of data about the sector. This was followed by the Report by the Review Panel, with its recommendations to the government and that in turn was followed by a response from the government giving an indication of the actions it would take.

Interspersed between these government reports are firstly, an extensive submission by the Music Trust, taking into account the information in the Discussion Paper and making its own proposals for change; also the responses by Richard Letts to the Report of the Review Panel and his further response to the government’s plan of action.

The Review Panel’s Report appears to have taken up some of the Music Trust’s proposals although of course, there is no acknowledgement. In Letts’s view it fails to deal realistically with important issues of repertoire and survival of the art form even though recognising their importance. Letts’s responses may be in some aspects contentious and have not been tested in any official discussion. However, they  may stimulate discussion and future action..

The six papers between them give a good account of the big end of the opera town but partly due to the restrictive Terms of Reference laid down by the Arts Minister, do not cover the important activities of the Victorian (state) Opera or some vital small companies that present early opera and new opera.

March 2018

NAPLAN 2017: Results Have Largely Flat-Lined, and Patterns of Inequality Continue

NAPLAN 2017: RESULTS HAVE LARGELY FLAT-LINED, AND PATTERNS OF INEQUALITY CONTINUE includes a statistical update of the outcomes. While NAPLAN continues to have broad support in the education bureaucracies, it seems to have little benefit to academic outcomes and many attribute to it a de facto narrowing of the curriculum. Our concern is that the tool of measurement is in a sense becoming the curriculum and in many schools is causing closure of arts programs as principals pursue higher rankings for their schools.

Learn more…

Australian Music Vault, a new museum of popular music

AUSTRALIAN MUSIC VAULT, a new museum of popular music has opened in Melbourne and displays artefacts associated with successful Australian popular musicians.

Learn more…

2017 Was a Great Year for Australian Musical Theatre

2017 WAS A GREAT YEAR FOR AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE because of the large number of Australian musicals written and taken on stage. They are listed in the article. Of course, the great majority of these musicals are small scale but Muriel’s Wedding, a musical version of the successful film, is a rare mainstage success. Meanwhile, an incubator effect is building, for instance through the 111 seat Hayes Theatre in Sydney, which is encouraging local creators and performers and beginning to see an occasional success upscaled to a big theatre.

Learn more…

Australian Music Publishers Report

The AUSTRALIAN MUSIC PUBLISHERS’ REPORT gives basic information about a successful Australian industry which continues to grow despite digital disruption.

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How Folk Music Went from Daggy to Cool

In HOW FOLK MUSIC WENT FROM DAGGY TO COOL, the author traces the evolution of folk music and its changing role from 18C Europe to present-day Australia and the west.

Learn more…


SWOT Analysis of Folk Music

The SWOT ANALYSIS OF FOLK MUSIC looks at a complex situation that arises from its varying roles as participatory music or music for consumption, its array of cultural affiliations and sources and much more. It could be read in conjunction with the previous article.

Learn more…

SWOT Analysis of Ethnomusicology

SWOT ANALYSIS: ETHNOMUSICOLOGY defines the discipline, describes its achievements in Australia and a few problems it faces.

Learn more…

February 2018


Click on the title to link to the article.

This is a paper tracing the history from just after Federation, written by Dr John Gardiner-Garden, an officer of the Parliamentary Library and intended to provide factual information for use in further policy development by governments, political parties and citizens. It offers detail from the time of the Whitlam government onwards.


Click on the title to link to the article.

Simon Crean was Commonwealth Minister for the Arts and in 2011, called for SUBMISSIONS TO A NATIONAL CULTURAL POLICY. This submission is a set of proposals for the music sector but also covers important general issues. Such a comprehensive formulation is rare if not unique. Despite much digital disruption, most of the proposal still has relevance. Crean’s policy will be revived if Labor is returned to power in 2018.


Click on the title to link to the article.

SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

This SWOT is preceded by an introduction laying out basics of voice science, pedagogical issues and benefits of singing. A Conclusion includes possible roles for the Australian National Association for Teachers of Singing in addressing threats and weaknesses listed in the SWOT and picking up on some of the opportunities.


Click on the title to link to the article.

In this unique project, the Music in Australia Knowledge Base is commissioning and publishing SWOT analyses of important areas of musical activity in Australia. They are written by leaders in their fields, often the leadership of national industry associations. So far, SWOTS have been published for 27 areas of activity, listed below.

These analyses give bird’s-eye views of the situation for various subsections of the musical world – the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. On the basis of this information and the assessments, it would be possible to build strategies to combat weaknesses and guide future developments.

There are important omissions. For those areas, we have not identified authors able and willing to make the analysis. The entries marked with an asterisk * were written in 2008. All others were written very recently. 

  1. Amateur chamber music
  2. Artist management *
  3. Brass bands *
  4. Chamber music (professional) *
  5. Choral music *
  6. Classical music
  7. Community music
  8. Contemporary music industry
  9. Copyright
  10. Folk music *
  11. Australian research into music education
  12. Jazz in SA *
  13. Music education – vocal music
  14. Music education – school music
  15. Music libraries
  16. Music publishing
  17. Music Teachers Association of Qld
  18. Music therapy *
  19. Musical instrument making *
  20. Musical theatre – Australian musicals
  21. New music *
  22. Opera
  23. Orchestras – capital city youth orchestras
  24. Orchestras – professional
  25. Studio music teaching – national
  26. Studio music teaching – Queensland
  27. Tertiary music education *

Additional SWOT analyses are being prepared for these areas:

  1. Australian Indigenous music
  2. Choral music
  3. Composition – art music
  4. Cultural policy – national
  5. Diverse musics (multicultural)
  6. Ethnomusicology
  7. Folk music
  8. Historically informed performance (early music)
  9. Jazz – national
  10. Music education -preschool
  11. Music education – research