Michael is a published researcher with research interests within an anthropological context including: music and language; cross-cultural compositional practice; and Melanesia.

In 2006 he received an Australian Research Council scholarship to participate in the Chanted Tales from Highland New Guinea project, a comparative study of oral performance traditions and their role in contemporary land politics.  This led to extensive research into the relationship between music and language with particular respect to the pikono genre of Duna, Southern Highlands Papua New Guinea, for which Michael received the University Medal from both the Australian National University Department of Anthropology and School of Music in 2007.

The relationship between music and language has been a strong influence in Michael’s own work, for instance in Ballad of a Highlands Man, which was written immediately after his first investigation of Papuan Sung Stories, and The Raw and the Cooked, which is a musical interpretation of French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’ seminal work.  Michael’s research is influenced by the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, Franz Boas, and Roman Jakobson.  Michael worked closely with anthropologist Dr. Alan Rumsey, ethnomusicologist Dr. Kirstie Gillespie, and linguist Dr. Lila San Roque as part of the Chanted Tales project at the Australian National University.


Sollis 2011. Parallelism in Duna pikono. In A, Rumsey (ed.), Sung stories from the New Guinea Highlands: studies in form, meaning and sociocultural context.
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Sollis 2010. Tune-Tone Relationships in Sung Duna pikono. Australian Journal of Linguistics 30(1): 67-80.
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Sollis 2007. Musical-Lingual Interplay in a Papua New Guinea Sung Story. BA honours thesis, Australian National University.
Click here to download the thesis.