This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.
To say that music is an integral part of my life I believe understates the importance of it for me. Music has been the one constant in my life, central to my being, accompanying me wherever I am, irrespective of whether I am physically playing, listening or internally listening via memory. Irrespective of the location, circumstance or event, music is within me. Music practice is not a choice for me; it is a necessity. I have practiced music for over four decades in multiple social and cultural contexts, and in significantly contrasting creative locations, such as a church choir singer, musician, songwriter, teacher, band member, producer, commercial songwriter, manager, solo artist, musician for hire, band leader, stage manager, artist coach, engineer (live and studio), and most recently an Electronic Music Producer and educator. I have engaged a (vast) range of technologies, using countless variations of workflow. I continue to practice music on a daily basis, engaging physical instruments, digital virtual technologies, or in the research, analysis, or listening to music styles. I embrace a broad definition of music practice (Small 1998; DeNora 2000; Wallis 2001; DeNora 2005; Hesmondhalgh 2013), with my practice currently including the preparation for and teaching audio at a higher education institute, a variety of contracted music projects from tracking to mixing, and examining my music practice through this doctoral research study.
Given my current motives for practice are not volume sales-based, I am averse to categorising my music practice as professional practice. In looking for an alternative classification to define my music practice, I considered the classifications for my practice of: professional, semi-professional, amateur or hobbyist (Rogers 2013). Could it be semi-professional, as I earn multiple small income streams from various forms of music practice? Or is it amateur, referring to my current status as a music producer where I am earning minimal income at present because of my current pursuits of creative industry education, and full-time doctoral studies? Referencing Kuznetson and Paulos’s article, I am reluctant to assume the title of expert for my music practice, as I consider myself a generalist across a breadth of skills and experiences. (Kuznetson and Paulos 2010, 295). What I do however accept is who I am: highly motivated, possessing an impassioned commitment to my practice, with a very high level of focus on developing my knowledge, skill level and technology. After four decades of music practice, I seek to learn on a daily basis: newly released creative technologies, applying them in a variety of creative locations; familiarising my self with new music styles; developing new practice workflows; better understanding my motives, and my self. I am engaging this doctoral research study to investigate my practice, in order to develop greater understanding and workflows. I therefore am of the opinion I exhibit qualities and attributes that reflect an attitude of professionalism.
Despite my four decades of practice, I have my eyes very much on the future. I still have a lifetime of music goals still to realise: songs to write and arrange; sonic textures to explore; creative productions to develop; and engage with both my peers and the public to a far greater degree than I have to date. I am hopeful of continuing my journey with music as an integral part of my life, core to my being, accompanying me wherever I am. For these reasons, not with standing my experience, knowledge and skills accumulated and developed to date, both within the field and discipline of music and sound, and all other experiences in life, I also classify my self as an aspiring music practitioner.
I commenced my music practice with acoustic and analogue technology, developing a workflow that reinforced my musical literacy, instrumental skills and personal taste in music. However, moving from acoustic to digital and digital virtual technologies in recent decades, I have observed the vastly different technologies and associated workflows that lend themselves to creative locations and music styles. This has impacted my music practice, hindering the realisation of my creative productions: my EPs. Whilst I have found my self at various times asking a number of questions in isolation, I now find myself seeing them as connected issues within the more global problem I propose for my doctoral research investigation: ‘Contemporary DIY music practice and the practitioner self’.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Reflective Practitioner – Part 8 (Page 2015c). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
DeNora, Tia. 2000. Music in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
DeNora, Tia. 2005. The pebble in the pond: Musicing, therapy, community. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 14 (1): 57-66.
Hesmondhalgh, David. 2013. Why music matters. Vol. 1. West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
Kuznetsov, Stacey and Eric Paulos. 2010. Rise of the expert amateur: DIY projects, communities, and cultures. In Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Extending Boundaries, Reykjavik, Iceland, October 16-20, 2010, edited, 295-304. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1868914&picked=prox: ACM.
Page, David L. 2014 image courtesy of David L Page Created 15th December, 2014
Rogers, I. 2013. The hobbyist majority and the mainstream fringe: the pathways of independent music-making in Brisbane, Australia. In Redefining mainstream popular music, edited by Sarah Baker, Andy Bennett and Jodie Taylor, 162-173. New York: Routledge.
Small, Christopher. 1998. Musicking: the meanings of performing and listening. Hanover: University Press of New England.
Wallis, R Dr. 2001. Best practice cases in the music industry and their relevance for government policies in developing countries. Paper presented at the United Conference on Trade and Development, Brussels, Belgium, May 14-20, 2001.
September 2015 Message sent to my HE undergraduate Creative Practice students at the completion of their Trimester studies.
“I think the grades and comments are reflective of your personal learning and effort across this Trimester. Irrespective of your grade or overall result, I trust that everyone has an increased awareness of their Creative Arts practice, and themselves as a Creative Arts practitioner.
In my experience, learning never ceases; as long as we keep reflecting on what we are doing, analysing how we are doing it, and then considering how we can improve. And lastly of course, applying new ways back into our practice (reflexively). This process is best done not only to our practice, but perhaps most importantly, to our selves, as practitioners. We should see our selves as commanders of our own ships, in need of ongoing development and improvement.
Please be as proactive in your practice as you can afford the time over your break. I look forward to seeing you around the college you next Trimester”.
What I am listening to: The Beach Boys’ “Smile” Peace out!
DIY image courtesy of: DIY Accessed 9th September 2015
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.
Aim of Research Study
The aim of my Doctor of Creative Industries’ Research Project 1 is to investigate both my DIY music-making practice, and my self as a practitioner during the process of creating and producing a cultural artefact (EP), developing praxis of contemporary music practice. Such a multi-tiered examination will represent a significant departure from current discussion of music-making practice. Through a first-person narrative of my personal journey, critical reflection and reflexive practice, I will highlight the co-constituted nature of my music practice. As highlighted relatively recently by art’s literacy researchers (Griffiths 2010; Franz 2010; Wright et al 2010; Ryan 2014), a key aspect of a practice-led research study is to examine the degree a creative person can be both practitioner and researcher, what processes are required as a result in order to ensure a robust and interrogative investigation to occur, and the implications of this dual primary role on the music practice workflow. I will draw on multiple methodologies, from a range of divergent interpretations. I will experiment in practice in Project 1 to determine what is effective considering my context and workflow. Such a multi-method qualitative study research study will necessitate the planning of a multi-layered data collection strategy equitably across the various stages of cultural production, necessitating the conscious scheduling of time for both personas to practice – that of the creative practitioner, and that of the research practitioner.
Figure I – Research Study Approach (Page 2015b)
Multi-methods qualitative study
This empirical research study will be conducted through my experiential phenomenological lens (Grace and Ajjawi 2010, 198), using a multi-method qualitative methodology, including that of: practice-led research, evocative auto-ethnography, reflective practice, and reflexive practice, over the two projects. Reflecting on my life across numerous disciplines, I recognise I am the archetype who has ‘to experience’ activities in life, rather than just theorising about it at arm’s length. Irrespective of my creative, sporting, or professional endeavours of education and management, I learnt early that I need to experience something to understand it. Grace and Ajjawi state: “In existential phenomenology the focus is on individual’s experiences of being-in-the-world” (Grace and Ajjawi 2010). In Experiential Phenomenology professional practitioners tend to be less interested in the philosophy of phenomenological method than its practice and application (Grace and Ajjawi 2010). Understanding this, I can therefore see how looking at the body of field literature through my lens can contribute to the field. I note that De Carvalho’s (2012) perspective in her article “The Discourse of Home Recording” article is that of a radical structuralist, viewing the world from a power relationship basis (Burrell and Morgan 1992). Whilst interesting from a point of view of understanding the power relationships within the broader industry, I fail to see the relevance of this perspective in trying to understand and improve the efficiencies of my practice.
Blom et al refer to practice-led as the insider, reference to the subject being inside the study (Blom et al 2011, 366). As I am in a dual primary role of both subject and researcher within this study, I am well inside this study.
Choosing auto-ethnography for this research study is a natural selection of methodology given the relationship I have with music. When I first heard the soul singers, the rhythm and blues singers, and the confessional singer songwriters of the 1960’s, I was drawn in. I found my home. The rawness, the honesty and the truthfulness spoke out to my self. As a writer, irrespective of prose or music, I learnt from a young age to write without a filter – to write from a place of honesty, truthfulness, very personally. Autoethnography enables the subject to be brought back under the spotlight, and celebrates the personal, the emotional and the vulnerable qualities that are deeply embedded within (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). This study is about that self, my practitioner self, the self at the heart of my music practice, learning to understand what motivates that person, and how I can maintain an open and constant relationship with that person across all music practice irrespective of musical style, technology, workflows, or creative location. I accept that my music practice-based research study will be an emergent one, illuminating my self and how I see my self within my world, through the creation and development of an original EP. Autoethnography is about telling a story, as is the creation of music, be it the compositional aspect, or the lyrical aspect. Mykhalovsky asserts: “to write individual experience is, at the same time, to write social experience” (1996, 141). Creating art is about creating a narrative, usually reflecting on an experience or observation, and then making the specific very general so others relate to it. It is as Mykhalovsky describes.
Focussing within the discipline of ethnography, Ellis points out that evocative autoethnography is about writing emotionally about our lives (Ellis 1997). Ellis in Pace (2012, 5) notes that evocative autoethography is “distinguished by the following characteristics:
the author usually writes in the first-person style, making himself or herself the object of the research;
the writing resembles a novel or biography in the sense that it is presented as a story with a narrator, characters and plot
the narrative text is evocative, often disclosing hidden details of private life and highlighting emotional experience (Pace 2012, 5).
The 10,000 word exegesis will be a first-person narrative of my personal journey, with myself performing the dual primary roles of being both the subject, and the researcher. I am expecting this research study to be revealing, and at times, confronting. I do expect this study to not being dissimilar to that of being a music practitioner – writing and performing from a place that in my experience, is often revealing and confronting.
I practice music everyday, and have done for over four decades. As indicated early on in this Project Brief, I have practiced music without the conscious connection to motive or self. This is a great example of how practitioners, especially sole practitioners who are usually working in isolation without the possibility of input from other organisational members, can progress on a particular focus of functional music practice without looking outside of their realm. What practitioners require is a regular opportunity to stop and consider their everyday actions and processes. As Lawrence-Wilkes & Chapman (2015) state, “reflective practice provides an opportunity to enhance professional performance and self-development by enabling insight and assisting learning for new understanding, knowledge and action”. As a multi-method practice-led approach, I will draw on and apply multiple approaches of reflective practice across the two-year full-time research study, in both Project 1 and 2. I will look to the approaches of: Schon (1983); Brookfield (1995); Brookfield (2002); Lyons (2010); Pascal and Thompson (2012); Archer (2007), Archer (2010), Ryan (2014), Griffiths (2010), and Finlay (2008) for insight regarding this practice. At this time, I am considering commencing with two art’s based discussions of reflective practice, and three non-art’s based reflective practice authors. Ryan’s (2014) approach as outlined in “Reflective Practice in the Arts”. Whilst not music practice specific, she talks about performative practice which applies very well to music practice. Additionally, Ryan draws heavily on Archer, a considered expert in the area of reflective practice. Secondly, the work of Griffiths’ discusses the researcher self, which has obvious parallels with my research study of the practitioner self (2010). Both authors discuss a mixed method of reflective practice and reflexive practice within their arts-based discussions. One of the advantages of a mixed method qualitative research study is that it permits complementary methods, allowing the results or findings of one method to shape the subsequent steps in the research process (Robson 1993). The other advantage of mixed method qualitative approaches is that it permits triangulations and enhances interpretability of the literature and data collected increasing the validity of the research findings. There will be extensive empirical data gathered as a matter of process, with commentary and reflection regarding the opportunities and challenges of certain workflows and combinations of the elements of music practice. The three non-art’s based authors I will draw on are: Schon’s (1983) “Reflection-in-action” and “Reflection-on-Action”; Pascal and Thompson’s (2012) “Reflection-for-action”; and Lyon’s (2010) Reflective Journal toolkit questions.
Figure II – Reflective Practices Summary (Anderson et al 2015)
In my Doctoral Research Project 1 I will vary the combinations of the six elements as noted above – self, motivation, musical style, technology, workflows, or creative location – across the 5 original compositions and productions. In order for the study to have merit, these combinations will need to be detailed, along and other data recorded progressively, at any point in time. Data observations could be: what conditions exist in terms of the six elements; what options in terms of the stages of cultural production are available; what decisions are made; what workflow results; and what outcome is achieved. In order to record the details of my practice – my findings, descriptions or reflections of my experience or processes – planned mediums to record are to be: written journals, mindmaps, blogs, audio recordings, video recordings or blogs, prose, lyrics, doodles, graphics and images. As noted previously, I expect I will be experimenting in Project 1 to determine what mediums work effectively in my context, with my workflow, at any particular point in time. Then, at regular intervals, I have scheduled (see proposed project plan and visual timeline in the section below) critical reflective practice stops – planned sessions to stop my practice and consider my practice, and where appropriate, the cultural artefact, critically. I will consider the relationship of the six elements during my practice of cultural production, maintaining a range of mediums of all observations and distinctions made [see Appendix IV (Page 2015c)].
Of particular note will be data elicited regarding a creative practitioner performing the dual role of both practitioner and researcher, and the implications this has on the music practice workflow. In a world with a developing DIY intent, it will broaden discussion in the field of social and cultural studies by providing both data and narrative for dual primary role-based (subject and researcher) formal research studies. It is critical that I demonstrate academic virtue, rigour and transparency of researcher as subject to avoid bias. As a researcher, I subscribe to Griffith’s view that irrespective of what research methodologies one utilises – quantitative, qualitative ethnographic or auto-ethnographic – the researcher must illuminate their “relationships, circumstances, perspectives and reactions”, making these clear to the reader (Griffiths 2011, 184). One way of addressing the separation of the self, is to ensure there are a diverse range of reflective devices and mediums in order to capture the data, so that these mixed-methods can then be used to distil the true data about my self and processes, in order to crystalize the outcomes and conclusions. It is a goal of mine to showcase the benefits and merits of such a qualitative study, particularly within a creative arts field, and therefore to have demonstrated academic virtue (Bridges 2003 in Griffiths, 2011, 183), be considered to have rigour, and guarded against bias, is a primary goal of mine for this Doctorate of Creative Industries research study.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Research Study – Part 2i (Page 2015d). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Anderson, C, Carolyn Carattini, Heather Clarke, Gail Hewton, David Page 2015 QUT KKP623 Reflective Practice in Action Group Presentation submission Accessed October 24, 2015.
Archer, Margaret S. 2010. Conversations about reflexivity, Ontological Explorations. New York: Routledge.
Archer, Margaret S. 2007. Making our way through the world: human reflexivity and social mobility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Blom, Diana, Dawn Bennett and David Wright. 2011. “How artists working in academia view artistic practice as research: Implications for tertiary music education.” International Journal of Music Education: 0255761411421088.
Brookfield, Stephen D. 2002. Using the lenses of critically reflective teaching in the community college classroom. New Directions for Community Colleges 2002 (118): 31-38.
Brookfield, Stephen D. 1995. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Burrell, Gibson and Gareth Morgan. 1992. Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis: elements of the sociology of corporate life. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate.
De Carvalho, Alice Tomaz. 2012. The discourse of home recording: authority of pros and the sovereignty of big studios. Journal of the Art of Record Production 7.
Ellis, Carolyn. 1997. Evocative autoethnography: Writing emotionally about our lives. Communication Faculty Publications Paper 304.
Ellis, Carolyn S and Arthur Bochner. 2000. Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: researcher as subject. In The Handbook of Qualitative Rsearch, edited by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, 733-768. New York: Sage.
Finlay, Linda. 2008. Reflecting on reflective practice. Practice-based Professional Learning Centre paper 52 29 (August 12th, 2015). www.open.ac.uk/pbpl.
Franz, Jill M. 2010. Arts-based research. Researching Practice: A Discourse on Qualitative Methodologies 2: 217-226.
Grace, S and R Ajjawi. 2010. Phenomenological research: Understanding human phenomena. Researcing practice: A discussion on qualitative methodologies. Rotterdam: Sense.
Griffiths, Morweena. 2010. Research and the self. In The Routledge companion to research in the arts, edited by M Biggs and H Karlsson, 167-185. London: Routledge.
Page, David L. 2014 image courtesy of David L Page Created 15th December, 2014
Pascal, J and N Thompson. 2012. Developing critically reflective practice. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives 13(2) 311-325. Accessed June 12, 2015. doi: 10.1080/14623943.2012.657795.
Robson, C. 1993. Real world research. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ryan, Mary Elizabeth. 2014. Reflective practice in the arts. In Literacy in the Arts, edited by G Barton, 77-90. London: Springer.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot, England: Arena.
Wright, David George, Dawn Bennett and Diana Blom. 2010. The interface between arts practice and research: attitudes and perceptions of Australian artist‐academics. Higher Education Research & Development 29 (4): 461-473.