This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.
Existing theory and research studies had already been completed within the industry, field and disciplines
As part of my preparing for my research study, I investigated a broad range of literature – industry-based text-books, and academic-based peer-reviewed literature. A variety of these resources have been informative to my intended research study. These include:
Industry-based text-books focusing specifically and comprehensively on one aspect of the music-making process in detail. These resources predominantly look at the technical elements of music-making practice, such as composing within a DAW. Examples are:
Gilraith’s (2010) “The Guide To MIDI Orchestration“;
Edstrom’s (2006) “Musicianship in the digital age” ; and
Dodge and Jerses’ (1997) “Computer music: synthesis, composition and performance”.
There were also a range of peer-reviewed articles outlining their research studies. Whilst I found these studies useful in terms of highlighting considerations of the compositional process within a digital virtual environment (DAW), none took a holistic perspective of the music-making process. Little attempt was made in any of these to develop music-making praxis; nor to consider the self or practitioner self as worthy elements of practice.
Nevels’ 2012 study, as summarised in “Using Music software in the Compositional process: a case study of electronic music composition”;
Chen’s 2012 Hong Kong-based “A Pilot Study Mapping Students’ Composing Strategies – Implications for Teaching Computer-Assisted Composition”;
Folkestad et al’s 1998 study, as summarized in “Compositional strategies in computer-based music-making”; and
Marrington’s 2011 study as summarised in “Experiencing Musical Composition In The DAW: The Software Interface As Mediator Of The Musical Idea”.
A number of other peer-reviewed articles looked at the studio more from a holistic perspective, but had a number of limitations of perspective; namely the lack of attempt to develop music-making praxis; nor to consider the self or practitioner self as worthy elements of practice. For example:
Bell’s 2014 study, as summarized in “Trial-by-fire: A case study of the musician–engineer hybrid role in the home studio”;
a number of studies contained within Frith and Zagorski-Thomas’s 2012 “The Art of Record Production: An Introductory Reader for a New Academic Field”;
I read with interest the title of Thompson and Lashua’s “Getting it on Record: Issues and Strategies for Ethnographic Practice in Recording Studios”, only to realise in the abstract that they focussed on a very narrow view of production. Their upfront claim of “(g)iven that recording studios are, first and foremost, concerned with documenting musician’s performances” signalled to me that their view of production was only to focus on forms of musical style where this was the case. By definition, they would exclude the majority of musical styles where the recording studio was used as an instrument, with the producer acting as composer . However, from a methodology point of view, Thompson and Lashua’s article – along with some of the others mentioned, do outline some useful considerations for my research study.
I continued my investigation broadening my scope. Peer-reviewed books and articles such as Bennett (2000) and Frith (1996) discuss music and sound, cultural sociology, and narrative. These were useful – interesting and informative – in terms of my research and developing understanding of specific sociological concepts. However, they have limited use in terms of my particular research study given their differing ontological perspective relative to my experiential phenomenological lens. Those studies exclude any engagement or discussion of the elements of motive and self.
Other peer-reviewed research studies such as De Carvalho’s (2012) perspective in her article “The Discourse of Home Recording” do consider the self and identity. However, they are similarly limited due to De Carvalho’s ontological lens of a radical structuralist. Viewing the home music-making in terms of power relationships (Burrell and Morgan 1992), whilst an interesting point of view in understanding the dynamics of the broader industry – and perhaps even how I as a practitioners has arrived at this point of access – , has similarly limited relevance for me trying to understand the process of my practice, and develop music-making praxis.
Webber’s (2009) study “In music and in life: confronting the self through auto-ethnography” is perhaps the closest to my proposed study. Webber is a music-making practitioner, who also drew on an auto-ethnographic methodology, and focused on self. However, that study differs – subtlety – to my proposed study, in two ways:
Webber was diagnosed with the condition Asperger syndrone just prior to commencing his study, and therefore was motivated to use his study to understand himself, and how specifically that condition informed his music-making practice. I have no such known condition, and am motivated by a need to examine process in order to engage with my music-making practice more effectively;
Webber’s music-making practice is composition for theatre, and therefore quite a specialist skill relative to my broader definition and application of music-making as previously outlined.
Irrespective of these differences, there is much I believe I can learn from his study, and as a result, I gained Dr Webber’s agreement to be an Industry Mentor on my research study.
 In later blogs I will discuss approaches to production, with includes (of many) two quite distinct approaches. As outlined in Moorefield’s 2005 “The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music”. Organic style of music such as classical, jazz and roots styles of music attempt to capture the performance as accurately as possible – as Thompson and Lashua infer – in order to maintain the integrity of the art and craft. However, others styles of music such as pop (and its many commercially motivated sub-genre derivatives), hip-hop, rap and electronic dance music styles of music are – in this era – more likely to be produced with the intention that the producer will embellish the artist’s performance, often beyond recognition of the original tracked artist’s performance. Both approaches are valid, but are prescribed by the style of music one is endeavouring to produce. Given my broad approach to production, Thompson and Lashua’s article is severely limiting, effectively excluding a number of musical styles I am likely to focus on.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Research Study – Part 2j (Page 2015b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Bell, Adam Patrick. 2014. “Trial-by-fire: A case study of the musician–engineer hybrid role in the home studio.” Journal of Music, Technology & Education 7 (3): 295-312.
Bennett, Andy. 2000. Popular music and youth culture: music, identity and place. New York: Palgrave.
Burrell, Gibson and Gareth Morgan. 1992. Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis: elements of the sociology of corporate life. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate.
Chen, Jason Chi Wai. 2012. “A pilot study mapping students’ composing strategies: Implications for teaching computer-assisted composition.” Research Studies in Music Education 34 (2): 157-171.
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.
Dodge, Charles and Thomas A Jerse. 1997. Computer music: synthesis, composition and performance. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Macmillan Library Reference.
Edstrom, Brent. 2006. Musicianship in the digital age. Boston: Thompson Course Technology.
Folkestad, Göran, David J Hargreaves and Berner Lindström. 1998. “Compositional strategies in computer-based music-making.” British Journal of Music Education 15 (01): 83-97.
Frith, Simon. 1996. “Music and identity.” Questions of cultural identity: 108-27.
Frith, Simon and Simon Zagorski-Thomas. 2012. The art of record production: an introductory reader for a new academic field: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Marrington, Mark. 2011. “Experiencing musical composition in the DAW: the software interface as mediator of the musical idea.” Journal on the Art of Record Production 1.
Moorefield, Virgil. 2005. The producer as composer: shaping the sounds of popular music. London: MIT Press.
Nevels, Daniel L. 2013. “Using music software in the compositional process: a case study of electronic music composition.” Journal of Music, Technology and Education 5 (3): 257-271. doi: 10.1386/jmte.5.3.257_1.
Thompson, Paul and Brett Lashua. 2014. “Getting it on record issues and strategies for ethnographic practice in recording studios.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography: 0891241614530158.
Webber, Colin. 2009. “In music and in life: confronting the self through auto-ethnography.” In Music ethnographies: making auto-ethnography sing – making music personal, edited by Brydie-Leigh Bartlett and Carolyn Ellis, 261-273. Bowen Hills: Australian Academic Press.