SCU Staff Directory

Michael Hannan
Professor Michael Hannan
DipMusComp(Syd), BA(Syd), PhD(Syd)
Current Appointment: Adjunct Professor
Organisational Unit: Faculty of Business, Law and Arts

Location: Lismore
Campus: Lismore
Personal Website

Michael Hannan established the Contemporary Music program at Southern Cross University. Currently he is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences.


Hannan studied musicology at the University of Sydney and was awarded a PhD in 1979. In 1980 he undertook postgraduate studies in music composition with Peter Sculthorpe, with whom he had also worked as a composition assistant from 1969 to1971 and in collaborations throughout the 1970s. In 1983 he received a Fulbright Postdoctoral Award which enabled him to work for a year in the Program in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA Hannan also studied composition with Elaine Barkin.


Michael Hannan has written over seventy works for concert hall, stage and screen, including electronic and experimental works and works involving improvisation. He has issued a CD of his experimental piano interior works, Terrains, on Tall Poppies Records (2000), and he composed the songs and many of the soundscapes for the Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA)'s major music theatre production, The Flood (2004).

He is the sole author of three books, Peter Sculthorpe: His Music and Ideas 1929-1979 (University of Queensland Press, 1982), The Australian Guide to Careers in Music (UNSW Press, 2003) and The Music of Richard Meale (Wildbird, 2014). His main areas of published research activity are in:

  • Screen music and sound (particularly in Australian feature films)
  • Work practices of musicians
  • The education of professional musicians
  • The Beatles' music
  • Arts practice-based research
  • Music of Peter Sculthorpe, Richard Meale and Ross Edwards
  • Local music cultures


Michael Hannan has supervised 10 PhD and 4 Masters by Research projects to completion. These cover a broad topic range, including popular songwriting, contemporary a cappella music, electronic dance music, contemporary music theatre, new music composition, third stream jazz, ambient music, multimedia, intermedia frottage and music production. Most of his research students have done composite theses, combining a creative or performance project with a written contextualising paper (exegesis).


Hannan has received a variety of grants and awards including:

  • ARC Linkage-Project Grant (co-chief investigator with Professor Paul Thom and industry partner, Lyndon Terracini) Regional performing arts: theory, practice and policy ($87, 384 for 2003)
  • ARC Discovery -Project Grant (co-chief investigator with Dr. Rebecca Coyle and Professor Philip Hayward). Music production and technology in Australian Film: enabling Australian film to embrace innovation. ($136, 125 for period 2007-2010)


Hannan was a member of the Music Board of the Australia Council from 1999 to 2002 and Chair of the Music Council of Australia from 2002 to 2004. He was a member of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Commission for the Education of the Professional Musician from 2004-2010, and was its Chair, 2004- 2006 and 2008-2010.