Aaron Corn

Aaron Corn

Elder Conservatorium of Music

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Director, Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM)
Professor of Music, Elder Conservatorium of Music
Chair, Research Committee, Elder Conservatorium of Music
Director, National Centre for Aboriginal Language and Music Studies (NCALMS)

My research investigates new strategies for strengthening human cultural diversity in the Digital Age with an emphasis on Australian Indigenous performance and mass media expressions. It examines the centrality of music to Indigenous law, and to the durability of Indigenous knowledge engagements across generations and cultures. I maintain long-term collaborations with Indigenous artists throughout Australia and Asia to broaden understanding and support for their cultural survival aims.

My most recent work explores: Digital futures for strengthening Australian Indigenous song and dance traditions, popular music expressions of Indigenous worldviews and values, song and dance as Australian Indigenous media for knowledge transmission in research and educational contexts, how the academy and the Australian education system value Indigenous knowledges, Indigenous cultural expressions of pre-C20 contact histories between Asia and north Australia, and building Indigenous understandings of relatedness into metadata schemes for use with collected Indigenous knowledge resources.

I welcome inquiries from Masters and PhD candidates interested in: Music and Digital Media, Popular Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Strengthening Endangered Cultures, Ethnographic Research Methods, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Cultural Heritage Collections and Audiovisual Archives, Indigenous Pedagogies and Education Policy, Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property, Indigenous and Embodied Knowledges, Information Technologies and Indigenous Communities.

Current projects include:

  • Yolŋu Manikay: Digital Futures for Indigenous Song of Northeast Arnhem Land

    Manikay is the public ceremonial song tradition of the Yolŋu people of NE Arnhem Land. It is a key medium for transmitting ancestral observations of country across generations, and has inspired new creative expressions that are acclaimed worldwide. Yet despite its centrality to Yolŋu agency, the Manikay tradition is increasingly threatened due to present-day pressures with its cohort of seasoned singers thinning considerably. This pilot project enlists a leading team of investigators and organisations with expertise in Yolŋu knowledge, music, languages, ethnography, digital collections and rights management to research how emergent digital technologies can best be used to strengthen the transmission of Manikay to future generations.

  • Aboriginal Remote Narrowcast TV and the Audiovisual Archive

    This project investigates world-best practices in community narrowcast digital TV and contemporary methods for the long-term storage of both digital and analog audiovisual cultural materials with the aim of generating new knowledge about pertinent technical requirements for preservation and conservation. It engages multiple stakeholders and national institutions while building local Aboriginal community capacity in digital narrowcast and the management of Aboriginal audiovisual archives. It also investigates how narrowcasting health promotion and other public service messages into Aboriginal languages community impacts upon community wellbeing.

  • Mobilising the Global Legacy and Impact of the Aboriginal Artists Agency

    The Aboriginal Artists Agency was a driving force for change in the Australian arts industry. Founded in 1976, it was the first national body to administrate copyrights for indigenous artists, create international demand for Australian culture, and pioneer ways for Indigenous artists to reach audiences and markets worldwide. This project investigates the seminal work of the Aboriginal Artists Agency. It works to secure and analyse the Aboriginal Artists Agency’s exclusive corporate collection, and assesses the vast knowledge of its personnel through new interviews. This seminal analysis of the Aboriginal Artists Agency’s role in reshaping attitudes towards Australian national identity is informing new frameworks for assessing Indigenous arts initiatives.

  • The National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia (NRPIPA)

    The NRPIPA assists Indigenous Australians to record, document and archive their endangered traditions of music and dance, and empowers Indigenous communities to utilise new digital media technologies in determining how to realise these cultural survival aims. Conceived as a key outcome of the 1st Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance during the 2002 Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, it maintains a committed network of performers, scholars, professionals and community stakeholders. The NRPIPA continues to convene its annual Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance, which invites presentations by a wide array of Indigenous cultural practitioners and their collaborators. The NRPIPA became a Study Group of the Musicological Society of Australia in 2017, which is open to scholars, performers, community stakeholders, collections managers and allied professionals with an interest in Indigenous Australian music and dance.


Date Project Name / Number Investigators Funding Body Amount
2018 - 2020 Aboriginal Remote Narrowcast TV and the Audiovisual Archive Ormond-Parker L, Corn A & Sweeney D Australian Research Council


2015 - 2017 Mobilising the Global Legacy and Impact of the Aboriginal Artists Agency Corn A, Morphy H & Myers F ARC


2012 - 2014 Early Collections of Warlpiri Cultural Heritage and Resulting Community Access Needs in Remote Desert Australia Patrick S, Corn A & Wild S ARC


2012 Thai Music Festival and Symposium, Canberra Corn A Australian Government, Australia–Thailand Institute Grant $6,500
2011 Equipment and Facilities Upgrade for the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures Barwick L, Thieberger N, Arka I, Bird S, Evans N, Simpson J, Nordlinger R & Corn A ARC $238,000
2009 - 20013 Indigenising the Semantic Web: Ontologies for Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage Resources on a Machine-readable Web Corn A ARC $686,400
2007 - 2009 Elder Assessments of Early Material Culture Collections from Arnhem Land and Contemporary Access Needs to Them among Their Source Communities Gumbula J & Corn A ARC $245,000
2007 International Council of Traditional Music World Conference, Vienna Corn A & Gumbula J Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies $4,000
2006 Garma at Womadelaide Tripodi A, Corn A & Gumbula J Australia Council for the Arts, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Presentation and Promotion $50,000
2005 - 2006 Sharing Access and Analytical Tools for Ethnographic Digital Media Using High Speed Networks Thieberger N, Simpson J, Barwick L, Wigglesworth G, Rumsey A, Bowden F, Buchhorn M, Hunderford S, Foley W, Marett A, Corn A, Nordlinger R, Evans N, Hajek J, Johnston T, Schembri A, Pfeiffer S, Hunter J, McConvell P, Gumbula J, Austin P, Holton G & Johnson H ARC $100,000
2005 Planning for the Sustainability of the National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia Marett A, Barwick L, Langton M, Corn A, Yunupiŋu M, James A & Marika W ARC $49,000
2004 - 2008 When the Waters Will Be One: Indigenous Performance Traditions at the New Frontier of Intercultural Discourses in Arnhem Land Corn A & Langton M ARC $275,000
1998 - 2000 Arnhem Land Blues Corn A Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies $47,000
1997 Dreamtime Wisdom, Modern-time Vision: Tradition and Innovation in the Popular Band Movement of Arnhem Land, Australia Corn A Queen’s Trust for Young Australians, Achiever Award $5,000
1995 - 1997 Dreamtime Wisdom, Modern-time Vision: Tradition and Innovation in the Popular Band Movement of Arnhem Land, Australia Corn A Australian Government, Australian Postgraduate Award with Stipend $32,000
1993 - 1995 Musical Instruments in Cultural Heritage Collections: A Case Study of the Queensland Museum Corn A Australian Government, Australian Postgraduate Award with Stipend $32,000


Program Direction
  • Convenor, Foundation Year, Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM)
Course Summary
Date Course Title Course Level/ Code
2017 Research Project V, Postgraduate Coursework MUSPERF 7026
2017 Indigenous Music III, Undergraduate Level III, MUSIC 3001
2017 Indigenous Music II, Undergraduate Level II, MUSIC 2030
2016 The Enquiring Mind, Undergraduate Level I, ARTS 1007
2016 Community and Culture, CASM Foundation Year MUSIC 1100
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Principal Supervisor Make a Change: The experience, identity and culture of pub rock music in Adelaide, South Australia (1962-1994) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Robert John Boundy
    2019 Co-Supervisor Physiology of Condotery Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Tully Brookes
    2018 Co-Supervisor A Methodology for Investigating Improvised Jazz with Computer-aided Statistical Methods and Machine Learning: A Case Study Through Grant Green's Improvisations (1960-1965) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr David James Blackwell
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Anhui Opera: Towards Maintaining a Historical Regional Dramatic Opera Tradition in Contemporary China Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Yiyin Tian
    2018 - 2020 Co-Supervisor A Musicological Study of the Japanese Koto using Heuristic Finite Element Models Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Iran Sanadzadeh
    2017 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Ecotonality, or Adapting Soundscape Ecology to Creative Practice: Ecological Sound Art Responses to Four South Australian Ecosystems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jesse Henk Nicolaas Budel

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