PhD scholarship in gestural music making for people with physical disability

Monash University
December 01, 2023
Offerd Salary:$33,000AU
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD scholarship in gestural music making for people with physical


Job No.: 658174

Location: Caulfield campus

Employment Type: Full-time

Duration: 3.5-year fixed-term appointment

Remuneration: The successful applicants will receive a Research Living Allowance, at a current value of $33,000AUD per annum 2023 full-time rate (tax-free stipend), indexed plus allowances as per RTP stipend scholarship conditions at: www. students/scholarships/scholarship-policy-and-procedures

The Opportunity

Monash University seeks applicants for this opportunity who are able to demonstrate and present valid and current Australian work rights.

Australians with disability face significant barriers to making a career from music, and the few that do often have their voices unheard and earn less than half that of other musicians.

The Problem

One of the main barriers for musicians with disability, particularly those with physical disability, is finding the right instrument, with nearly all musicians with physical disability settling for a traditional acoustic instrument. Traditional acoustic instruments were principally designed to facilitate virtuosic performances by musicians without physical disability.

Digital instruments that utilise gestural technologies, however, give us the incredible opportunity to reimagine and reinvent the connection between movement and sound in ways that have not been afforded to us through traditional acoustic instruments. Rather than the musician settling for an instrument designed for people without disability, we can design instruments to suit the musician's physical capacity.

The Goal

Led by research fellow Dr Alon Ilsar, the project centres around the creation of a gestural digital musical instrument, the AirSticks, developed at SensiLab as a tool for triggering and manipulating sound and visuals in a 3D playing space. The instrument has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube, has featured on the ABC, Channel 7 and TedX, and has been used in performances at Vivid Festival, NYC's Met Museum and the Sydney Opera House. The AirSticks have received acclaim, winning the Real-Time Live Competition at SIGGRAPH Asia and People's Choice for Best Performance and Best Overall Instrument at the International Guthman Instrument Competition.

Utilising the AirSticks, this project's goal is to increase the participation of musicians with physical disability in the Australian music industry.

Outcomes You'll Drive

We will achieve our goal through:

  • Understanding, through a series of face-to-face studies with musicians with disability facilitated through YourDNA Creative Arts, how novel gestural performance technologies may be utilised in their creative music practice
  • Investigating the range and vocabulary of gestures that musicians with disability are comfortable in performing
  • Co-designing, developing and evaluating bespoke custom accessible gestural instruments for specific musicians with different types of physical disability
  • Composing several gestural works in collaboration with musicians with disability
  • Using the documentation of these performances to invite new participants and expand the program to other cities, states and countries, and
  • Commercialising the instruments built for the broader community
  • Your Study Experience

    We invite researchers across all aspects of the project to submit, from hardware, mechanical and software engineers, to industrial designers, to artists working with sound, movement, visuals or other media. We will tailor a PhD project with the candidate. Candidates who identify as having a disability are strongly encouraged to apply.

    For a video overview of the project see Airsticks 2.0: instrument providing new possibilities to create music Alon Ilsar TEDxSydneySalon

    Diversity Drives Innovation

    We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, including artists, designers, media producers, creative technologists, digital software/systems developers, programmers and hardware engineers. Candidates who identify as having a disability are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Candidate Requirements

    Applicants will be considered if they fulfil the criteria for admission at Monash University and demonstrate excellent research capability. Details of the relevant requirements are available at www. research/future-students/apply.

    A strong artistic practice may be recognised where academic criteria are not met.

    Scholarship holders must be enrolled on campus. Scholarship holders must normally be enrolled full-time, but those with a disability/health condition that precludes full-time enrolment can be considered for part-time enrolment.

    Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed, over Zoom if necessary. The interviews will be conducted in English.

    The successful applicant will be expected to enrol by January 2024 but this is negotiable.

    Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) which shall comprise:

    Once you have discussed your application with Dr Alon Ilsar please email an Expression of Interest (EOI) to [email protected]. This should comprise of:

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the candidate's suitability
  • A brief research proposal not exceeding 750 words in length that fits within the broad project aims and objectives, and demonstrates some understanding of the area of research
  • A curriculum vitae, including a list of any published works, conference presentations and relevant work experience
  • A statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of relevant certified documentation
  • English language proficiency test results (if applicable)
  • Contact details of two academic referees
  • Please submit this EOI to [email protected].


    Dr Alon Ilsar, [email protected]

    Closing Date

    Friday 1 December 2023, 11:55pm AEDT

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    Monash University recognises that its Australian campuses are located on the unceded lands of the people of the Kulin nations, and pays its respects to their elders, past and present.

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