Music in Asia


Professor Margaret Kartomi

The participants of the research group include current staff, Adjuncts, Affiliates, two generations of Monash Alumni, and co-ARC Chief Investigators.


Professor Margaret Kartomi

Research Staff

Bronia Kornhauser
Rohan Iyer
Mitchell Mollison

Adjunct / Affiliate Staff

Dr Gay Breyley
Dr Annette Bowie
Dr John Garzoli
Dr Aline Scott-Maxwell
Professor John Whiteoak
Dr Alison Tokita

The research group has a legacy of five decades of internationally recognised scholarship in Asian Music. Building on this significant foundation, the group recognises the historical and contemporary dynamism, within and across the Asian region and its diasporas and the complex cultural fabric of music it sustains. The group approaches the investigation of this broad geographic, creative and intellectual domain from a variety of perspectives.

Research focuses on the music and musical thought of the Southeast and East Asian regions. However, it also considers the historical and contemporary dynamism of the region from a trans-Asian perspective and significantly from the multiple vantage points emerging in Asian Diasporas around the world.

Research embraces all forms of traditional musics, contemporary popular musics (including local, globalised, trans-Asian and intercultural), adopted and adapted traditional and popular musics from other spheres (including western classical, jazz, heavy metal, rock, hip hop to name a few), as well as the musics of the multiple Asian diasporas.

Research applies interdisciplinary approaches from the social sciences, humanities, ethnomusicology and performance studies to investigate the region and its diasporas. This investigation includes: the cultural significance and sustainability of music in traditional and contemporary contexts, musical ontologies and performance practice; the impact of post-coloniality and cultural nationalisms on music, the consequences of modernity in all its forms on music, the cultural consequences of economic globalisation on music and the importance of cultural contact, movement and migration on understandings of music.


  • Support and encourage wide ranging multidisciplinary research
  • Formalise a large network of Monash alumni music researchers working in, and on, Asia
  • Facilitate and support grant applications
  • Establish new and strengthen existing partnerships with institutions and scholars across the region
  • Undertake traditional and practice-based research


  • Cultural and theoretical constructions of music and creativity
  • Performance practises and aesthetic systems
  • Organology, Ergology, Archival Studies
  • Configurations of gender in cultural construction and musical expression
  • Traditional musics, Asian modernities and cultural nationalism
  • Globalisation and popular music cultures
  • Ontologies of music.
  • The impact of international intellectual ownership and industrial practises on Asian musics in all its forms


The research group has associations and affiliations with:

  • The Herb Feith Indonesia Engagement Centre, Monash University
  • The Australia-Indonesia Institute
  • Monash Asia Institute
  • Music Archive of Monash University
  • University of Indonesia,
  • Gadjah Mada University, University
  • University of Lampung, Indonesia
  • Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta
  • Syiah Kuala University (Aceh, Indonesia)
  • University of North Sumatra
  • Institute of Arts Padang Panjang (West Sumatra)
  • University of Malaya
  • Universiti Sains Malaysia (Penang)
  • University of Sabah Malaysia
  • Andalas University, Padang, Sumatra
  • National Institute of Music, Afghanistan
  • Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
  • Khon Kaen University, Thailand
  • University of Tehran

Current research projects include:

  • De-colonising musicological discourses of musical creativity and ownership
  • Exploring the Performing and Visual Arts of Lampung, Indonesia
  • Listening to a Changing Lampung
  • Seeking Lampung Identities: Music of Descendants of Javanese Transmigrants in Lampung-
  • Islamic Devotional Genres in Lampung
  • The Music, Dance and Folk Theatre in the Kalianda Region of Southeast Lampung
  • The Visual Arts of Lampung - Textiles and Jewelry and their Performative Relationships
  • Cultural History and Regionalising the  Arts in East and North Lampung
  • Music and Performance of Ensembles in East and North Lampung
  • Mapping music making in Lampung
  • Music and Dance in Aceh, Indonesia
  • Popular music and politics in contemporary Thailand
  • Intonational systems and aesthetics in traditional Thai Music
  • Ethnomusicology and the Digital Archive