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Associate Professor of Musicology and Director of Academic Program, Music, Western Sydney University

Sally Macarthur is a Associate Professor in Musicology and Director of Academic Program, Music, at Western Sydney University. She has researched and written on topics to do with new classical music, women's music and music in spiritual and cross-cultural contexts. Her recent articles appear in Radical Musicology, Australian Feminist Studies, Musicology Australia, Cultural Studies Review and the Journal of Music Research Online. Her books include Towards a Twenty-First-Century Feminist Politics of Music (Ashgate 2010), Feminist Aesthetics in Music (Greenwood 2002), with Bruce Crossman and Ronaldo Morelos a co-edited volume, Intercultural Music: Creation and Interpretation (Australian Music Centre, 2006) and with Cate Poynton, Musics and Feminisms (Australian Music Centre, 1999). Macarthur is currently co-editing with Professors Judy Lochhead (Stoney Brook, NY) and Jennie Shaw (Adelaide) another volume, Music's Immanent Future: Beyond Past and Present. She was recognised by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, Griffith Institute for Higher Education and Queensland University of Technology in 2007 for fostering an interest in research among her undergraduate students. In 2008, she was highly commended as a member of the Music Research Supervisor's Group for Excellence in Postgraduate Research Training and Supervision in the Vice-Chancellor's Awards.

Macarthur's doctoral work (1997), since published as the book, Feminist Aesthetics in Music, argued for the idea of feminine difference along similar lines to the French feminists (Irigaray in particular), She has since moved away from that idea, not only because it is not really possible to make such arguments for abstract music but also because the argument ends up essentialising 'femininity', and male/female experiences.

Her work currently draws on the work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze, in particular his concept of positive difference. It offers a way forward that is not about polarising male/female, gay/straight or any other binary relationship. It is an immanent philosophy, thus different from thought based in represenation. Her recent book, Towards a Twenty-First-Century Feminist Politics of Music, is a feminist-Deleuzian approach to the woman composer question. It maps the terrain, exploring the ways in which representational modes constrain and limit our understandings of music, critiques the contribution of the feminist work to musicology, looks at the ways in which entrepreneurship/neoliberalism impact negatively on the woman composer, and then offers the idea that thinking differently has its own power to effect change. Macarthur does not aim to find a solution. Rather, she posits a different way to think about the issues. The composers she has more recently focused on are Kats-Chernin, Boyd, and Gubaidulina. She does, however, have a fairly extensive knowledge of women's music.


  • 2011–present
    Member of the Philosophy Initiative, Philosophy@uws, University of Western Sydney
  • –present
    Director of Academic Program, Music, University of Western Sydney
  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Musicology, University of Western Sydney


  • 1997 
    University of Sydney, PhD in Western Musicology


  • 2013
    Difference, Becoming and Event in Women’s Music: Anne Boyd’s Ganba, Musik – Kultur – Gender, Köln: Böhlau-Verlag
  • 2012
    The Power of the Virtual in Music Scholarship: Composing a Woman’s Musical Future as a ‘Becoming-Other-Than-Itself, Journal of Music Research Online
  • 2012
    Music and Violence’, Musicology Australia
  • 2011
    Composing the ‘Woman’ Composer, Musicology Australia
  • 2010
    Women, New Music and the Composition of Becomings, Cultural Studies Review
  • 2010
    Towards a Twenty-First-Century Feminist Politics of Music, Ashgate
  • 2010
    Chaos, Territory, Music Research, Musicology Australia
  • 2009
    Post/Modernizing Australian Music, Musicology Australia
  • 2009
    A Thousand Dissonances: Music Research and the Nomadic Female Composer, Australian Feminist Studies
  • 2008
    A Becoming-Infinite Cycle in the Music of Anne Boyd, Radical Musicology
  • 2007
    A Musical Woman in a Man’s World: Rebecca Clarke, Musicology Australia
  • 2007
    Women, Spirituality, Landscape: The Music of Anne Boyd, Sarah Hopkins and Moya Henderson, The Soundscapes of Australia: Music, Place and Spirituality, Ashgate,
  • 2006
    The Cultural Work of the Musical Work, Intercultural Music: Creation and Interpretation, Australian Music Centre
  • 2006
    (Inter)cultural Issues and Musical Contexts, Autralian Music Centre
  • 2006
    The Beautiful, Disgusting and the Sublime: An Essay Review of Gender and Aesthetics, Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education
  • 2004
    Visions of a New Spirituality in Australia: The Music of Anne Boyd, Loose Canons: Conference Proceedings of the Women’s Music Festival, Southern Voices
  • 2002
    Feminist Aesthetics in Music, Greenwood
  • 1999
    Musics and Feminisms, Australian Music Centre
  • 1999
    Performance Rites: AMEB, or not to be?, Musics and Feminisms , Australian Music Centre

Research Areas

  • Performing Arts And Creative Writing (1904)
  • Sydney
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  • 0410 495 338
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