Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Jonathan Paget

Second Advisor

Dr Paul Hopwood

Third Advisor

Dr Lindsay Vickery


This research explores the tension between ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ musical styles in eight significant works of guitar music by Australian composer Nigel Westlake; namely Antarctica, Songs from the Forest, The Hinchinbrook Riffs, Six Fish, Shadow Dances, Shards of Jaisalmer, Jovian Moons, and Mosstrooper Peak. Through detailed analysis and recorded musical performances, consideration is given to the extent that these works bridge the aesthetic divide identified by Adorno, Jameson, Huyssen, and others; exploring their potential conformity to notions of postmodernity in music. The argument is advanced that Westlake has created a musical language that simultaneously combines sophistication and mainstream appeal. Illumination is made of many significant details of Westlake’s guitar music—including rock guitar techniques, harmonic formulations from popular music, and the extensive use of the more esoteric idiom of octatonicism—which provide a foundation for future analysis, evaluation, and performance of Westlake’s music. The creative research component comprises two audio CDs containing edited studio recordings of six works featuring the classical guitar in both a solo and ensemble setting, as well as documentation of other live performances.

Access Note

Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis.