Professor Richard Vella

Professor Richard Vella

Professor Of Music

School of Creative Arts (Music)

Exporting Australian songs that make the whole world sing

As Professor of Music in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Newcastle, Professor Richard Vella, is investigating the economic and cultural value of Australian music exports.  

Richard Vella 

"From a cultural perspective Australia is a 'third world', in the sense that most of the cultural products we consume are imported," Richard explains. 

He points to figures showing that trade in music related products - recorded media, music services and music instruments - accounts for 6.3% of Australian imports of cultural goods, yet realises only 2% of the $540 million of total cultural goods exports.

"Technological, economic and cultural changes necessitate a re-examining of the tangible and intangible value chains and their impact on the music industry export," Richard asserts.

A recent Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant, in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australasian Performing Rights Association, will allow Richard and his team to identify factors and functions that give music value, and aid music creation and export. 

Richard will be working on this project with fellow chief investigators, Professor Stephen Chen from the Newcastle Business School and Associate Professor Shane Homan from Monash University, in league with an expert project team. The project will be managed by singer songwriter Tracy Redhead, project manager for the research group Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research (CeCAR).

"This is the first formal study of how Australian artists are developed internationally, be it through government, industry programs or their own initiative."

THE PUZZLE PIECES

The project has four aims. The first is to map and assess the value and efficacy of current Australian music export programs in relation to similar programs internationally.

The second aim is to assess trends and changes in music industry business models, which have resulted from changes in new media technologies that influence current and future models of artists' development.

Providing insight into the growth of local markets in Australian music within globalised processes and markets.

While the fourth aim is to analyse cultural and economic value creation in the global value chain of the music industry.

This massive project, which Richard refers to as 'complex', will begin with mapping out the role of the different participants in the Australian music industry value chain, plus the economic and cultural value of music exports.

The second stage, led by Richard, will document the strategies and practices of Australian artists, managers and industry as entrepreneurs. 

A combination of secondary and primary data analyses will be used during the third stage to create a comparative analysis of international export organisations and models.

COMPOSING TALENT

A review of Richard's formidable experience in both the commercial music industry and tertiary music programs leaves little doubt that he will be an invaluable addition to the project team.

"I taught myself to play guitar when I was 16 or 17, after my mother won a guitar in a raffle. I realised pretty quickly that I like writing songs instead of learning other people's music," Richard recalls.

A successful career as a composer followed, with his diverse and award winning output including works for orchestra, large ensemble, choir, film, chamber music, burlesque cabaret, music theatre, site-specific performances, and popular music genres.

Richard went on to direct the music publication program with the commercial publisher Currency Press, Sydney, and was founding artistic director of Calculated Risks Opera Productions which developed innovative performance forms for music and theatre.

His own book 'Musical Environments: A Manual for Listening, Composing', has become a recognised text for secondary and tertiary music courses throughout Australia and has been reprinted for the northern hemisphere by publishers Boosey & Hawkes (UK).

TERTIARY TRIUMPHS

In the early nineties, Richard devised and implemented a groundbreaking inter-disciplinary music program in the arts and sciences at Macquarie University.  Unfortunately it was ahead of its time as can be seen by the recent emergence of research platforms in arts and science across Australia.

Substantial positions within the music faculties at La Trobe University and Queensland University of Technology followed.

Richard came to Newcastle as Chair and Professor of Music in 2007. He was head of the school for creative arts from 2008 to 2013.

His experience in both the commercial music industry and tertiary education sector made him the perfect candidate to overhaul the music program, bringing a clear focus on musical diversity whilst maintaining excellence. Music is fundamentally a social and performance activity.  These two attributes underpin communication, creativity and the development of new technologies in music.  Our BMus students have the opportunity to explore any of these for a career in music.

"The program is modelled on three skills that the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said that every graduate would need to have, regardless of their qualification," he explains.  

"And that is to be creative, to be collaborative and to work with technology. The students love it. We now have one of the lowest attrition rates across the University."

These student experiences provide an important reference to understanding the link between an undergraduate music degree and the production of a viable export music industry product.

From 2008 – 2013 Richard was Chair of the National Council of Tertiary Music Schools (NACTMUS) and in that position he had a privileged overview to the state of the tertiary education sector in Australia and internationally. He is currently Director of Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research at the University of Newcastle.

CeCAR brings together national and international researchers in the creative arts, humanities, sciences, health and social sciences with external collaborators in the community, industry, other universities and institutes.

As well as creating and initiating collaborative projects in pure and applied research, CeCAR is a production and publishing house environment in which projects are facilitated, developed and disseminated.

REASSESSING SUCCESS

Despite his intensive experience in so many facets of the music industry, Richard is open to this new project challenging his beliefs in what creates export success.

"I don't claim to understand it all, it's just that I come from that background and want to work out what can we identify," Richard clarifies.  

"There are so many factors and questions to consider. Is it based on luck? Is it about the people that you know? What are and how do the new business models via the internet, increase markets?"

"What is the role and function of a venue now? What is the function of an audience, how do all those things lock in?"

"And if you only talk about economic value, what does that mean? It's also important to look at the role of cultural value and what makes people put money into something."

Richard is well aware that most innovations in music result from process and experimentation. Musicians "just love playing and exploring new sounds" in the first instance. Finding a purpose and context for these sounds comes second.

"How effective is our government at nurturing cultural and economic talent through funding the development, support and promotion?"

"How favourably does that compares to other countries using other models, and how can we make people from overseas want to buy Australian?"

The project will provide the empirical and cultural evidence of how such forms of cultural funding assist musicians, labels and related networks. This is why the collaboration with the Australian Council for Arts is important.

Outputs will include a detailed picture of the interrelationships between industry sectors, state governments and federal government inputs; and related recommendations on how to best promote national artists.

"This covers all types of music, not just the rock, but classical, all kinds. We can make educated guesses, but this project will identify if there is a mechanism, or formula, that leads to success."

"And if there is a mechanism, policy can be built around it."

Exporting Australian songs that make the whole world sing

As Professor of Music in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Newcastle, Professor Richard Vella, is investigating the economic and cultural value o

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Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research

Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research (CeCAR) is a newly launched research group within the Faculty of Education and Arts at The University of Newcastle.

CeCAR brings together national and international researchers in the creative arts, humanities, sciences, health and social sciences with external collaborators in the community, industry, other universities and institutes.

CeCAR Director, Professor Richard Vella, said CeCAR provides an interface for artists outside the university to collaborate with researchers in the creative arts, sciences, social sciences, humanities and health.

"From an interdisciplinary perspective, expertise from diverse disciplines combined with the creative arts can produce new outputs and models of understanding in the science, technology and humanities disciplines. They can also generate exciting new art works based on this research, "Professor Vella said.

"Research in haptics, interactivity, digital environments, robotics, communication and cognition are just some examples of fields that can include creative arts research."

Two successful projects already undertaken by CeCAR include:

  • Supanova, a rich media peer review annotation software environment for the presentation and discussion of research in the creative arts.
  • The Space Time Concerto competition featuring an internet-linked ensemble spanning five countries.

For more information visit CeCAR.

Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research

Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research (CeCAR) is a newly launched research group within the Faculty of Education and Arts

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

Born in Melbourne, 1954, Vella's diverse output includes works for orchestra, large ensemble, choir, film, chamber music, burlesque cabaret, music theatre, site-specific performances, and popular music genres.

Many of his works are now recognised as set repertoire such as his 'Tango', for clarinet, and the guitar solos 'Between Earth and Air' and 'Mirrors of Fire'. His film credits include 'Light Years', 'Parklands', 'Renzo Piano: piece by piece' (for which he won the 1999 Australian Screen Composer's Award for best music for a documentary) and 'Mr. Strehlow's Films'. His feature film music score 'Travelling Light' (2003) received the nomination 'Best Music for a feature Film' by the Australian Film Institute. Recent works have been 'The A to Z of Spiritual Music: a user's guide', commissioned by The Seymour Group (2006) http://www.abc.net.au/classic/spiritual his co-production of the Warners international release of the Ten Tenor's album 'Larger than Life' (2003) and a revised version of his music theatre work 'Tales of Love' (2002). Vella was founding artistic director of Calculated Risks Opera Productions.

Calculated Risks has premiered three of his major works, 'Tales of Love' (1991/2002), 'The Last Supper' (1993) and 'Bodysongs: the Fatman Tour' (1998). These works have toured nationally and internationally in various formats. Publications discussing his performance work are 'Arias: Recent Australian Music Theatre' (Redhouse Editions, 1997) and 'The Oxford Dictionary of Australian Music' (Bebbington Warren (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1998). He has been invited to be Visiting and Consulting Professor of Music to many institutions in the areas of research and undergraduate curriculum development.

Between 1992 and 1996 Vella devised and implemented an interdisciplinary postgraduate and undergraduate music program within the School of Mathematics, Physics, Computing and Electronics at Macquarie University. From 1989 to 2001, Richard was director and commissioning editor for music with Currency Press, Sydney. In this capacity he solicited and oversaw many books and publications on print music,recordings, manuals, and scholarly works. His own book 'Musical Environments: A Manual for Listening, Composing', originally published by Currency Press, has become a recognised text for secondary and tertiary music courses throughout Australia. In 2003, a new edition of this book entiltled 'Sounds in Space Sounds in Time' was published by Boosey and Hawkes, UK. He is currently Chair and Professor of Music and Head of School, Drama, Fine Art and Music at the University of Newcastle. Richard Vella is Chair of the National Council of Tertiary Music Schools (NACTMUS) and sits on many advisory groups concerned with tertiary education in the creative and performing arts.

Research Expertise
- Drama, Theatre and Performance studies - Music Composition - Performing Arts and Creative Writing

Collaborations
Richard Vella's research interests are interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary. His main research focus is on modelling, metaphor, hermeneutics and creative thinking across diverse knowledge domains. In particular he is interested in the role of creative practice in the construction of models.


Qualifications

  • Master of Arts (Music), La Trobe University

Keywords

  • Music composition
  • Performing arts
  • Theatre
  • film music
  • hermeneutics and creative practice
  • music theatre

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
190499 Performing Arts and Creative Writing not elsewhere classified 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Professor Of Music University of Newcastle
School of Creative Arts
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/05/2006 - 1/12/2006 Acting Head of Music and Sound Discipline Queensland University of Technology
Australia
1/01/2002 - 1/07/2007 Adjunct Professor in Music Queensland University of Technology
Australia
1/07/1996 - 1/02/1997 Professor and Chair of Music La Trobe University
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
Member - National Council for Tertiary Music Schools (NACTMUS) NACTMUS (National Council for Tertiary Music)
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2000 -  Professional Composer Freelance
Music
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2003 Vella R, Sounds in Space, Sounds in Time, Boosey and Hawkes, London, UK, 240 (2003) [A4]

Chapter (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Vella R, English H, 'Embedding Creative and Critical Thinking in Performance Studies - The Challenge', Assessment in Music Education: From Policy to Practice, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland 141-151 (2015) [B1]
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-10274-0
Co-authors Helen English
2012 Vella RJ, 'Thoughts on the training of a music student at university level', Sound Musicianship: Understanding the Crafts of Music, Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 357-368 (2012) [B2]
2003 Vella R, 'Tertiary Music Education since 1988', , Currency Press, Sydney, NSW Australia (2003) [B2]

Conference (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Vella R, Scott NB, 'Making Music Beyond Their Time: Training Musicians for a Future Workforce', ASME XXth National Conference Proceedings (2015) [E1]
Co-authors Nathan Scott
2013 Vella RJ, Walsh L, Scott NB, Redhead T, 'A Report on Collaborative Music Making at the University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music', Redefining the musical landscape: Inspired learning and innovation in music education - XIX National Conference Proceedings (2013) [E1]
Co-authors Nathan Scott, Linda Walsh
2013 Vella R, Scott NB, Redhead T, 'Network Music Performance and the Global Context' (2013)
Co-authors Nathan Scott
2004 Vella R, 'Artistic Practice as Research, key note address' (2004) [E2]
Show 1 more conference

Creative Work (16 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Vella RJ, Eluard P, Rabindranath T, Hildegard, Unending Love, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2013) [J2]
2013 Vella RJ, Vella RJ, Let's Dance, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2013) [J2]
2012 Gabrielli G, Vella RJ, Scott N, A telematic performance of Giovanni Gabrieli's 'In Eclessis', Newcastle (Australia) and Linz (Austria) (2012) [J1]
2012 Vella RJ, Absence, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2012) [J1]
2012 Vella RJ, Gabrielli G, Scott N, Redhead T, In Ecclesiis - a global performance (2012) [J1]
Supanova
2009 Scott NB, De Aragon C, Moore I, Vella R, Scott-Mitchell A, wasted! (Installation with surround sound soundscape), Ostfildern, Germany (2009)
Co-authors Nathan Scott
2008 De Aragon C, Moore I, Vella RJ, Scott-Mitchell A, Scott N, Wasted: Back to the City, Newcastle, NSW (2008) [J2]
2008 Vella R, Hendrix J, Purple Haze (Vocal arrangement), Sydney (2008) [J1]
Supanova
2007 Vella RJ, Renzo Piano Suite' in Video Circus, Brisbane, Australia (2007) [J1]
2006 Vella RJ, The A to Z of Spiritual Music: a user's guide, Sydney, Australia (2006) [J1]
2005 Vella R, McPhee W, Ms Fortuna Goes Greek, Brisbane, Australia (2005) [J1]
2005 Vella R, McPhee W, Private Dancer (New version), Brisbane, Australia (2005) [J1]
2004 Vella R, Water/Va Pensiero, Hamburg, Europe (2004) [J1]
2004 Vella R, Mirrors of Fire, Sydney, NSW Australia (2004) [J1]
2004 Vella R, 'Sonata' for Violoncello and piano, Sydney, NSW (2004) [J2]
2002 Vella R, Tales of Love, Unknown, Australia (2002) [J2]
Show 13 more creative works

Other (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Vella RJ, 'Metaphor, Analogy, Music and the Interdisciplinary', . Melbourne: Musicological Society of Australia (2014)
2012 Vella RJ, 'The Rhapsode goes to University: a discussion of Plato¿s Ion in relation to creative arts research.', . Canberra (2012)
2012 Vella RJ, Drummond J, 'Mathematics, Music, Visualisation & Creative Thinking', . Canberra (2012)
2012 Vella RJ, Scott N, Redhead T, 'Networked Music Performance', . ANU Canberra (2012)
2007 Vella R, Drummond J, 'ACID Press: a New Approach to Knowledge Collaboration', : Resonate Magazine (2007) [O1]
2005 Vella R, 'Keeping the Degree Creative', ( pp.2-2). Sydney, NSW Australia: Realtime Arts: http://www.realtimearts.net/article/68/7916 (2005) [O1]
Show 3 more others
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $341,976

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20153 grants / $316,976

The economic and cultural value of Australian music exports$226,976

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Richard Vella, Professor Stephen Chen, Associate Professor Shane Homan, Ms Millie Millgate
Scheme Linkage Projects
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2018
GNo G1401340
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

The economic and cultural value of Australian music exports$60,000

Funding body: Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd

Funding body Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd
Project Team Professor Richard Vella, Professor Stephen Chen, Associate Professor Shane Homan, Ms Millie Millgate
Scheme Linkage Projects Partner Funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2018
GNo G1401498
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

The economic and cultural value of Australian music exports$30,000

Funding body: Australia Council for the Arts

Funding body Australia Council for the Arts
Project Team Professor Richard Vella, Professor Stephen Chen, Associate Professor Shane Homan, Ms Millie Millgate
Scheme Linkage Projects Partner Funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2018
GNo G1401499
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

20141 grants / $25,000

ERF Teaching Relief - English$25,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Ms Helen English, Professor Richard Vella
Scheme Equity Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1301347
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed10
Current14

Total current UON EFTSL

Masters0.65
PhD5.6

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD The Piano Works of Raymond Hanson - An Exploration
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2015 PhD The Songwriter/Producer in a Digitised and Connective World
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 PhD Collaboration in Experimental Arts
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 PhD Intention, Expection and Reception: a Syncretic Approach to the Solo Concerts of Keith Jarrett
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 PhD Self-appropriation and the 21st Century composer/pianist: Challenges facing the modern concert musician
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 Masters Remixing and Re-interpretation of Classics: Relevance and Attributes
M Philosophy (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 Masters NSW Conservatoria of Music: Community Making and Social Inclusion
M Philosophy (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2013 PhD Music as a Resource for World-building in Newcastle, NSW and its Townships, 1869-1879
PhD (History), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2013 PhD ORI* on Aesthetics and Language of Folding and Technology
PhD (Fine Art), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2013 PhD Classical Voice and the Microphone
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2012 PhD Keep the Flame Burning: Exploring the Barriers that inhibit the effective teaching of the Arts in Primary Schools
PhD (Education), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2011 PhD Off-White: A Latterday Travesty
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2008 PhD Pragmatics of Intertextuality in Recorded Music
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2007 PhD Joseph Schillinger and His System for Aesthetical Engineering: Applications in Music Composition and Analysis
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Sole Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2016 PhD The Indigenous Music of East Timor and its Relationship to the Social and Cultural Mores and Lulik Worldview of its Autochthonous People
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2015 PhD Symmetry and Symmetry Reduction in Music
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2015 PhD Towards Maximal Convergence: the Relationship Between Composition, Performance, and Production in Realtime Software Environments
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2015 Masters Towards an Aesthetic of Groove
M Philosophy (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2015 PhD The Polysynchronous Film Score: The Relationship between Music and Image/Narrative in Contemporary Scores for Silent Film
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 Masters Acoustic Phenomena as a Model for Music Composition
M Philosophy (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2014 PhD Music in Context: An Exploration of Music and Dramaturgy
PhD (Music), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2013 Masters A Study Examining the ICT Literacy Levels of Music Educators in the New South Wales Department of Education and Training
M Arts (Music) [R], Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2009 Masters Developing Twenty-First Century Art Music Repertoire
M Creative Arts (Music) [R], Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2008 Masters The Maturing Trumpeter: An Insight to the Physicality, Mentality and Practicality of the Twenty First Century Performing Trumpeter
M Creative Arts (Music) [R], Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
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Research Collaborations

The map is a representation of a researchers co-authorship with collaborators across the globe. The map displays the number of publications against a country, where there is at least one co-author based in that country. Data is sourced from the University of Newcastle research publication management system (NURO) and may not fully represent the authors complete body of work.

Country Count of Publications
Australia 12
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News

ARC project to assist Australian music industry

ARC project to assist Australian music industry

July 17, 2015

The University of Newcastle (UON) has been awarded Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project funding to research the economic and cultural value of Australian music exports.

Enter the Jean Bogan Piano Composition Prize now!

The Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition 2014

August 7, 2014

The 2015 Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition has been awarded to two talented composers.

Matthew Gardiner

Research Seminar Series

March 6, 2014

The University of Newcastle's Collaborative Environments for Creative Arts Research (CeCAR) is proud to present an exciting new Research Seminar Series featuring cutting-edge research and creative perspectives on social and aesthetic issues.

Art and Science Symposium

Symposium explores how science emerges from art

December 9, 2013

Legendary performance artist Stelarc is one of several international experts participating in a University of Newcastle-hosted symposium this week that will challenge the idea that art and science exist at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Professor Richard Vella

Position

Professor Of Music
School of Creative Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts

Focus area

Music

Contact Details

Email richard.vella@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5995
Fax (02) 4921 8958

Office

Room 3.17
Building The Conservatorium
Location The Conservatorium
Cnr Laman and Auckland Street
Newcastle, NSW 2300
Australia
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