A graduate of the University of Adelaide, Margaret undertook studies for her doctorate in musicology at the Humboldt University in Berlin before taking up a research fellowship at Monash in 1969, a lectureship in 1970, promotion to reader in 1976, and professor in 1989. From the early 1970s she pioneered the teaching and research of Asian music in Australia and established Monash University’s Sumatra Music Archive, Asian Music Archive, and the Australian Archive of Jewish Music. During her time as Head of School (between 1989-1998 and 2000- 2001), she developed a new philosophy of education, directed the expansion of the University’s music program to include performance and composition as well as ethnomusicology and musicology, and instituted several degrees and double degrees.
Margaret is the author of over 100 refereed articles/book chapters, five books and six ethnographic, commercially released vinyl records or Compact Discs. She also served as editor of six books and contributed hundreds of entries in standard reference works. Her publications cover organological, historical, music-analytical and other aspects of the music-cultures of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Maluku, Flores, Chinese Indonesia, Baghdadi-Jewish music in Asia and Australia, and Australian Pitjantjara Aborigines. In the past decade she won $3.5 million in competitive research grants from the Australian Research Council. She is on the editorial boards of the Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology monograph series and the Music, Dance and Theatre Iconography series of the Hollizer Wissenschaftsverlag, and on journals such as Ethnomusicology Forum and the Journal of Musicological Research.
Elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1989 and made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to ethnomusicology in 1991, she was then awarded a Centenary Medal by the Federal Government of Australia for service to Australian society and the humanities in 2003. Margaret was elected a Corresponding Member of the American Musicological Society in 2004, and received an Order from the government of Lampung for her Sumatra research in 2011. She is also a Council member of the Society for Ethnomusicology and was the program convenor for its conference in Columbus, Ohio in 2007. She also convened Symposia of the International Musicological Society in Melbourne in 1988 and 2004, with another mooted for 2017.
Margaret is a versatile scholar who oversees the direction of research in the School of Music – Conservatorium in her role as Research Coordinator. Currently her field research focuses on the music-cultures of Aceh, the Riau Archipelago and Lampung provinces of Sumatra, and she continues to supervise dissertations by research students.