Associate Professor Kimi Coaldrake

Associate Professor Musicology & Postgrads

Elder Conservatorium of Music

Faculty of Arts


My research investigates the music, music-making and musical instruments of Japan. My knowledge of performance gained through my training in Japan on the koto (13-stringed zither) combines with the methods of ethnomusicology and Japanese Studies to understand the multi-faceted contemporary expression of tradition in modern Japan. Areas of research include women’s performance of gidayū musical narratives, intercultural compositions by Minoru Miki (1930 – 2011), Kitaro’s use of tradition in New Age Music and representations of music and musical instruments in Japanese woodblock prints.

My most recent work is increasingly interdisciplinary. I use the intellectual frameworks and methods of ethno/musicology and new computer technologies including finite element modelling to study the sound and sound culture of musical instruments. This methodology permits me to construct the basic structural elements of an instrument in software such as COMSOL Multiphysics™. I can then apply them to analyse past, present and future instruments. For example, I can identify the fundamental properties of their resonance and the way different components interact to create complex resonances, then listen to and analyse these results in terms of the actual sound and cultural aesthetic preferences.  This methodology has broader applications to the technical and cultural study of wooden stringed instruments in Asia and musical instruments more generally.

My current projects include:

Project 1:  Understanding the sound and sound culture of the Japanese koto

I have developed a finite-element model of my own hand-crafted, professional grade koto (13 stringed zither)  using as many real life measurements as possible including the results of a Computer Tomography (CT) scan of the koto. This project aims to identify the interactions between the complex organic shape and the paulownia wood of the instrument that create its distinctive resonances. The research process is constantly informed by my knowledge of traditional performance practice, reference to historical manuals and traditional materials so that the physical characteristics of the koto sound can also be better understood in terms of aesthetic preferences in the sound culture of Japan.

Project  2: US-Japan collaborations in renewable  energy research (1945 -1960)

US government funding since 2010 has resulted in significant developments in renewable energy research. Little attention however is paid to earlier algal biofuels research in the US and countries such as Japan after World War 2.  By chance a series of unpublished reports and correspondence held in the Smithsonian Museum and archives of Tokyo Institute of Technology became available to me that shed light on how the US government in the 1950s under the visionary leadership of scientist/politician Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) strategically built upon the Japanese efforts to develop algal biofuels during World War 2. The Japanese research was not successful as such, but it did spark a series of events and collaborations. By analysing and interpreting these primary documents there are lessons to be learned from these early US-Japan collaborations that help focus attention on lost opportunities, reveal critical research continuities and have implications for policy directions.

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    1987 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Japanese Can read, write and speak
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1982 - 1986 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor United States PhD
    1978 - 1980 University of Hawaii System United States MA Asian Studies
    University of Sydney Australia BA
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    1985 Natori_ Professor of Koto Yamada Traditional Koto School Japan

Master’s and PhD inquiries

I welcome inquiries from Master’s and PhD applicants interested in:

Japanese contemporary music traditions

Studies of musical culture (ethnomusicology)

The cultural and technical study of musical instruments (organology, systematic musicology and computational  acoustics)

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Co-Supervisor Horn Ensembles in Australia: A History of the Genre and Catalogue of Endemic Repertoire Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Emma Gregan
    2019 Principal Supervisor Memorisation Techniques for Simple and Complex Harmonic Material Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Emanuel Auciello
    2019 Co-Supervisor Huiju Dramatic Opera Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Yiyin Tian
    2019 Co-Supervisor Exploring the Stylistic and Technical Innovations in Seminal Pop/Rock Drum Pattern (1965-1992): A Dissertation Comprising Two Recital Performances and Exegesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Enrico Morena
    2019 Principal Supervisor The theory of conscious disengagement: Relinquishing physical tension and optimising harmonic effects in modern classical piano performance of Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto. Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Ruiting Ting Yun
    2018 Co-Supervisor Rhythmic pulse cycles and approaches to polyrhythms in contemporary jazz 1997-2017 Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Ross McHenry
    2018 Co-Supervisor The Liszt Sonata in Context: Poetic Symbolism and Poetic Symphonism Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mekhla Kumar
    2016 Principal Supervisor THE UKELELE IN ADELAIDE: A Study of Music Practice + Identity Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mr Hugr Felix Friedrich Hhugr
    2016 Principal Supervisor Toward A Method of Characterizing sound Quality in The Japanese Koto Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Iran Sanadzadeh
    2015 Principal Supervisor A Performer's Perspective: Professional Collaboration and How It Affects A Pianist’s Understanding ETC Using Beethoven’s G Minor Sonata Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Miss Kathryn Shauna Selby
    2014 Principal Supervisor From Imaginative Vison to Musical Communication: Investigating The Piano Pedagogical Approach of Leonora Sivan Through Preludes from Op.34 by Dmitri Shostakovich Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Debra Andreacchio
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Revisiting George Enescu's 1921 Bucharest Recital Series: a performance-based investigation with recordings and exegesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Elizabeth Layton
    2015 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Performing Chinese Contemporary Art Song: A Portfolio of Recordings and Exegesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Qing Chang
    2015 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Music, Place and Public Space: Street Music in Rundle Mall, South Australia Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Darren Slynn
    2014 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Divergence and Convergence in Spanish Classical and Flamenco Guitar Traditions (1850-2016) Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Aloysius John Leeson
    2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Of Broken Trees and Elephant Ivories: curating and performing twelve piano works inspired by the legacy of pianos in colonial Australia. A portfolio of recorded performances and exegesis. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Gabriella Smart
    2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor In Search of Utopia: Performing the Lesser-Known and Unpublished Violin Works of Ernest Bloch - A Portfolio of Recordings, Editions and Exegesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Simone Rose Linley Slattery
    2014 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Percussion Performance: Challenges of the Medium, Technique and Repertoire Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Ryszard Pusz
    2013 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Athens to Adelaide 1950-2015: The Impact of Cultural Transplantation on Bouzouki Performance and Repertoire Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mr George Grifsas
    2013 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Croatian Lyric Diction for Singers: An Exploration through Performance of Selected Works (1833-1933) Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Branko Mate Lovrinov
    2012 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Rojak: A Study of Cultural Elements Assimilated in Selected Works of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (2001-2014) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Peck Jin Gan
    2012 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Ethnoclassicism in Guitar Chamber Music Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Oliver Fartach-Naini
    2011 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Across the Pacific: The transformation of the steel guitar from Hawaiian folk instrument to popular music mainstay Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mr Guy Cundell
    2011 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Erard, Bochsa and their impact on harp music-making In Australia (1830-1866): An early history from documents Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Rosemary Margaret Hallo
    2010 - 2013 Co-Supervisor The Influence of Bartok’s Approach to Keyboard Compositions on Contemporary Chinese Solo Piano Music: A Portfolio of Recorded Performances and Exegesis Master of Music Master Full Time Qiaoyue Zhao
    2008 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Performing and contextualising the late piano works of Akira Miyoshi: a portfolio of recorded performances and exegesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Tomoe Kawabata
    2007 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Pragmatism and In-betweenery: Light music in the practice of Australian composers in the postwar period, c. 1945-1980 Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr James Philip Koehne
    2007 - 2009 Principal Supervisor The Perspective of the Composer and Performer: The Interpretation and Performance of Selected Flute Works by Lowell Liebermann and Robert Beaser Master of Music Master Full Time Ms Natalie Anne Zwar
    2007 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Portfolio of Compositions and Exegesis: A Personal Interpretation of the Klezmer Tradition Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Melisande Thompson
    2006 - 2007 Co-Supervisor Twistonality: A Personal Exploration Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Diana Weekes
    2006 - 2007 Co-Supervisor Portfolio of Compositions Master of Music Master Full Time Mrs Rebecca Llewellyn
    2006 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Portfolio of Recorded Performances and Exegesis: Messiaen's Musical Language for the Jazz Pianist - An Exploration Through Performance Master of Music Master Part Time Ms Deanna Djuric
    2006 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Portfolio of Recorded Performances and Exegesis: The Influence of Selected Traditional Japanese Musical Concepts on Contemporary Flute Repertoire Master of Music Master Full Time Ms Masako Kondo
    2006 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Technique as a Solution to Artistic Problems in Solo Classical Vibraphone Performance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Nicholas Parnell
    2005 - 2008 Co-Supervisor Baroque Influences in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Piano Repertoire: A Study of Interpretative Issues Master of Music Master Full Time Miss Wen Xu
    2005 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Portfolio of Original Compositions and Exegesis: To Fuse or to Confront - Five Compositions for Chinese Traditional and Western Orchestral Instruments Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Kin Yee Raymond Mok
    2005 - 2011 Principal Supervisor The Process of Music Making for Delivering Doctrine in the Christian Family Centre (an Adelaide Pentecostal Church) Master of Music Master Part Time Mr Nathan James Bettcher
    2004 - 2006 Principal Supervisor From Conception to Realisation: Instrumentation and Recording Quality in Creative Music Making for the Jazz Multi-instrumentalist Master of Music Master Part Time Mr Andrew Bevan
    2004 - 2005 Co-Supervisor Voicing: Its Significance and Application in Different Styles and Genres of Piano Music Master of Music Master Full Time Ms Fiona Corston
    2004 - 2005 Principal Supervisor Selected Aspects of Musical Style in the Performance of Flute Repertoire Master of Music Master Full Time Miss Hsing-Yi Cindy Cheng
    2003 - 2004 Other Recorded Performances and a Published Edition Doctor of Music Higher Doctorate Full Time EPrf David Lockett
    2002 - 2002 Principal Supervisor BRUCKNER'S NINTH REVISITED TOWARDS THE RE-EVALUATION OF A FOUR-MOVEMENT SYMPHONY Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr John Alan Phillips
    2001 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Subject to Change: Nine Constructions of the Crossover between Western Art and Popular Musics (1995-2005) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Miss Aliese Millington
    2000 - 2004 Principal Supervisor The Functions of Walkman Music Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Andrew Williams
    1999 - 2006 Principal Supervisor Performing Community: Japan's 50th Kohaku Song Contest Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Shelley Brunt
    1996 - 2004 Principal Supervisor MOTION THROUGH TIME: KUJAWY VILLAGE MAZURKAS AS A KEY TO UNDERSTANDING RUBATO WITHIN THE TIME FRAME OF A BAR IN CHOPIN'S MAZURKAS Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Catherine Joy Steer
    1996 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Slovenian Folk Music and Identity Maintenance in Port Lincoln, South Australia Master of Music Master Part Time Ms Kathryn Gay Hardwick-Franco
    1995 - 2002 Principal Supervisor THE INNER MUSICAL WORKINGS OF ROBERT SCHUMANN 1828-1840 Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Geoffrey Moon
    1993 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Choral Program of the South Australian Public Primary Schools' Festival of Music: A Study of its Effectiveness Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Helen Pietsch
  • Position: Associate Professor Musicology & Postgrads
  • Phone: 83135823
  • Email: kimi.coaldrake@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4414
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Schulz, floor 9
  • Room: 9 12
  • Org Unit: Elder Conservatorium of Music

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