Performance studies form a field of research that investigates the historical, physiological and cognitive aspects of making music as both a technical and a creative endeavour, and the ways the performers and audiences experience music and communicate through musical interactions. It explores how meaning and emotion are expressed, shaped and received in real time through the live production of sound. All academics of the ANU School of Music have worked as professional musicians as is reflected by their prominence in concerts, festivals, broadcasts, and commercial studio recordings worldwide. The postgraduate research program in performance studies attracts candidates from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, and includes a high proportion of professional musicians. Research in this area is supported by our exceptional collection of musical instruments from throughout history and around the world, which includes Australia’s largest collection of antique and reproduction keyboards, guitars, brass, and wind instruments. Also in this collection are rare electronic instruments including a Mellotron, an EMT Plate Reverberator and a Fairlight CMI, which respectively forged the distinctive sounds of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Peter Gabriel.
Research leadership in this area is provided by acclaimed operatic tenor Dr Paul McMahon, fortepiano specialist Dr Mike Lee, critically acclaimed multidisciplinary pianist Dr Sonya Lifschitz, alt-rock guitarist Ass/Prof Samantha Bennett, and noted jazz saxophonist John Mackey.