Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Dr Andrew Alter

CL - andrew_alter JPG

Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Music Studies

HDR Director, MMCCS



Office: Y3A 253

Phone: (02) 9850 2118

Undergraduate Teaching: MUS100,  MUS301

Postgraduate Teaching: MECO700



Andrew has over 23 years experience teaching music at tertiary level. He has contributed to a diverse range of sub-disciplines including popular music studies, ethnomusicology, composition, theory, harmony, conducting and performance studies. His performance interests span an eclectic mix of world music and experimental genres and include diverse musical practice on piano and cello as well as within vocal ensembles and Indonesian gamelan. Currently he leads the Macquarie University gamelan ensemble, and is working on recording projects with this group.

As an ethnomusicologist, Andrew has published widely in the discipline's leading journals and reference tools. He is a member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Australian Musicological Society, the South Asian Studies Association of Australia, the Society for Ethnomusicology and the International Council for Traditional Music. This research and professional background continue to inform his research, performance and teaching activities.


Research Interests

Andrew's research interests cover three broad areas of investigation: South Asian music cultures, contemporary Australian transcultural musical expression, and Southeast Asian music cultures. Within these areas his research projects and publications have examined traditional music cultures as well as contemporary musical expression. In South Asia he has examined connections between musical practice and Hindu ritual in the Himalayas as well as contemporary music at local and national levels. In Southeast Asia his work with the gamelan traditions of Java has led him to explore traditional practice and contemporary fusion. Naturally, his research in each of these Asian regions has influenced his approach to contemporary Australian transcultural practice.



Alter, Andrew, 2014. Mountainous Sound Space: Cultural Practice of Music in the Himalayas. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.

Alter, Andrew, 2008. Dancing with Devtas: Drums, Power and Possession in the Music of Garhwal, North India. London: Ashgate Publishing.

Book Chapters and Encyclopaedia Entries

Alter, Andrew, in process [2014]. 'Damau', 'Daunr', 'Dhak', 'Dhol', 'Hudukka' and 'Masak'.  In Laurence Libin (ed). The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.

Alter, Andrew and Keogh, Brent. 2013. 'Some Preliminary Thoughts on Patterns of Programming in Australia's World Music and Folk Festivals'. In Oli Wilson and Sarah Attfield (eds), Proceedings of the 2012 ANZ-IASPM Conference.

Alter, Andrew, 2009. 'Himalayan Area'. In Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.) Brill's Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Vol. 1, Regions, Pilgrimage, Deities, pp. 71-83. Leiden: Brill.

Alter, Andrew, 2000. 'Institutional Music Education in North India'. In Alison Arnold et al (eds.) South Asia, vol. 5 of the Garland Encyclopaedia of World Music, pp. 442-448. Garland Publishing.

Alter, Andrew, 1994. 'Gurus, Shishyas and Educators: Adaptive Strategies in Post-Colonial North Indian Music Institutions'. In S. Blum and M. J. Kartomi (eds.) Music-Cultures in Contact: Convergences and Collisions, pp. 158-68. Sydney: Gordon & Breach/Currency Press.

Journal Articles

Alter, Andrew, 2012. 'Flutes, Sprites and Mountainous Geographies', European Bulletin for Himalayan Research. 40: 9-26.

Alter, Andrew, 2011. 'Controlling Time in Epic Performances: A Comparison of Mahabharata in the Central Himalayas and Indonesia' Ethnomusicology Forum 20 (1): 55-78.

Alter, Andrew, and McNeil, Adrian, 2004. 'Introduction'. South Asia. XXVII(3): 285-288.

Alter, Andrew, 2004. 'Playing History: Music's Agency in the Creation of Historical and Sacred Realms during a Central Himalayan Festival'. South Asia. XXVII(3): 359-378.

Alter, Andrew, 2003. 'Dhol Sagar: Aspects of Drum Knowledge amongst Musicians in Garhwal, North India'. European Bulletin for Himalayan Research XXIV(Spring): 63-76.

Alter, Andrew, 1998. 'Negotiating Identity in the Garhwali Cassette Industry'. South Asia. XXI(1): 109-122.

Alter, Andrew, 1997/98. 'Bagpipes in the Himalayas: Syncretic Processes in a North Indian Regional Music Tradition'. Asian Music. XXIX(1), 1-16.

Alter, Andrew, 1997. 'Key Processes in the Oral Transmission of Hindustani Vocal Music'. Journal of the Musicological Society of Australia. XX: 61-83.