This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.
The topic of my Research Study is entitled: Contemporary DIY Music Practice and the Practitioner Self. Through a first-person narrative of my personal journey, critical reflection and reflexive practice, the co-constituted nature of my music practice will be highlighted. As art’s literacy researchers (Griffiths 2010; Franz 2010; Wright et al 2010; Blom et al 2011; Ryan 2014) espouse, a key aspect of a practice-led research study is to examine the degree a creative person can be both practitioner and researcher. Such 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 intend to experiment in Project 1 to determine what is effective considering my context and workflow. It is predicted that such a mixed-method qualitative study research study would 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 (Page 2015b).
Year 2016: Beginnings Part 1a
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring” [Bowie 2016].
I began this DCI research study on the 2nd January 2016 not having engaged in a formal academic research project previously. I admit to being somewhat lost where to start. Questions that arose in my mind included:
How was I to embark on this journey?
How effectively was I going to perform the dual primary roles of being both the practitioner as subject, and the researcher?
How was this going to translate into daily activities that would enable my research study to progress along the specified time line requirements of the sponsoring higher education institution?
How was I going to create a creative and music production workflow drawing on the methods I have outlined in my Project Brief Methodology chapter?
Given my overwhelm, I took the advice I received as feedback from my Project 1 brief assessor, ‘David, return to the Project Brief Aims and Objective often throughout your research journey to maintain your research study focus’.
excerpt from Project 1 Brief Project Aims and Objectives
The aim of my KKP59 Doctor of Creative Industries program Research Project 1 is to investigate both my DIY music 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 practice (Page 2015b).
My praxis has already developed over Year 1 through a number of incarnations to the current version four (see Figure III below). My praxis version 2 (see Figure I below) outlined four elements of practice that I suspected were likely to be interdependent: music style, technology, location and process. I felt that I needed to layout these four elements to highlight their interdependency, and the non-linear order that they may be considered in the course of my practice. I had understood my research study was to be cycling around and around the practice (Page 2015b)..
Figure I – Praxis version 2 (Page 2015c)
My praxis version three (3) (see Figure II below) then developed along similar lines to version two (2), however following the realisation of how central my self was to my practice. I realised that my attitude and my previous experience was definitely influencing my practice. The five elements of practice were now outlined in a similar interdependent relationship. Music style, technology, location and process, adding the practitioner self in the middle of the diagram to highlight the significance of self at the centre of ones’ practice.
Figure II – Praxis version 3 (Page 2015d)
Upon further observation and reflection, I described my practice and self as being two distinct and yet significant elements. As I continued to observe my practice, and reflect on my decision-making process, I realised that in many ways I had two practices: the practice of my music endeavours; and the practice of my self.
In figure III below, I laid out what was central to my study, my practice on the left (blue section), and depict that manner in which I cycle around and around that practice with the circular lines around the outside of that blue section. Acknowledging my observations and reflections that occasionally I deviate from here, questioning my motivation to practice, I drew a dotted black line from the blue section to the green section towards the bottom of the chart. Further acknowledgement of my observation and reflection immediately following questioning my motive, led me to accept that I then generally spend some time away from my practice, within my self; immersing within my self – my thoughts, feeling and emotions, considering my past, my life experience, my life decisions and my desired future. As this process is generally engaged in away from my practice, away from my practice site, I chose to depict this process in a very different colour – pink – and in a separate section, to the right of my practice section. I observed that I would cycle around my self in reflection and questioning of my self, in a relative short time compared to the time I spent in my music practice, before returning back to my practice (black line from base of self (pink) section, returning to the top of the music practice (blue) section.
Having developed Praxis version 4, I now understood that a central aspect of my research study – in addition to the practical and aesthetic choices and decisions I make whilst cycling around and around my practice – was going to be for me to observe, comment and even perhaps describe my motives and share some of the internal dialogue that I often have away from my practice, but as a direct result of having engaged in my music practice. I was starting to arrive at the understanding that whilst this journey into my self would occur as a separate practice to my music practice, it was in the larger picture, part of the same practice: an integrated, holistic presentation that necessarily included both my music practice and the practitioner self.
As this praxis developed, I developed some simple questions that related to each of the elements, that I thought may help me to maintain my focus whilst I was engaged in this research study process:
Music style: what I am making?;
Location: where am I making it?;
Technology and Workflow: how am I making it?;
Occasionally, I would leave the parameters of my music practice, and consider my motive for practice.
Motivation: why am I making it?;
I would then tend to become quite introspective, and consider my self – my thoughts, feeling and emotions, considering my past, my life experience, my life decisions and my desired future – relative to my music practice.
Self: who is making it?. That is, who am I ?
Figure III – Praxis version 4 (Page 2015e)
As I delved deeper into the literature and considered my practice, I realised both the significance of the elements of motivation and self upon my practice, and the lack of conscious consideration I had made of these in version two (2) of my praxis, and the superficial consideration of the element of self I had made in version three (3) of my praxis. In terms of current literature on music practice, seldom is either motivation or self discussed relative to music practice. Rarer still are studies of practice conducted that include the practice, the motivation, and the practitioner self.
Additional to these simple focus questions, I then developed three (3) sub-questions to my research study question:
Research study question: In contemporary DIY music practice, what effect does motive and creative technologies have on creative production?;
Sub-question 1: what is the relationship of the elements of music practice within the digital virtual environment. That is, are these elements within my music practice independent of each other, or are they in actual fact interdependent?
Sub-question 2: what is my motivation to practice music?
Sub-question 3a: how does my music practice contribute to the concept of my self?, and
Sub-question 3b: how does my self-concept shape my music practice?
excerpt from Project 1 Brief Project Aims and Objectives
As the contemporary DIY music practitioner, I will engage in the creation and production of five original compositions, with the theme of each composition being representative of some aspect of my life: past, present or future envisioning. The practice-led research study will allow the multiple stages of cultural production, from creation to production to release, to be tracked and captured using multiple methods, for the intended purpose of critical reflection and reflexive action by the researcher-self. I will investigate how my EP’s are uniquely shaped through the relationship that exists between: technology, music style, workflow, creative location, and motive in what most now operate within, a digital virtual environment; and, how my music practice contributes to the concept of my self; and in turn, how my self concept then shapes my music practice. Within each of the music practice projects (Project 1 and Project 2), I will be concerned with the conditions that exist, what options are available, what decisions are made, what workflows result, and what output is achieved. I will consider my motive (or motives) for music practice; the outcome (or outcomes) desired, and investigate to determine whether these are in fact typical within the field of music and sound, or whether they are typical of recent motive discussions in the developing discipline of contemporary DIY music practice. I will research, source and if required, develop valid industry-acceptable standards to measure my music practice against. On a more personal level, the research study will explore the degree to which my music practice exists as an expression of the self, and in turn, how a greater understanding of self shapes my music practice (Page 2015b).
This blog series is planned to continue with Doctoral Pilot Study – Part 1b (Page 2016). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
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.
Question mark image courtesy of: Cool Text Accessed 5th January, 2016.
Research image courtesy of: Research Accessed 5th January, 2016.
Ryan, Mary Elizabeth. 2014. Reflective practice in the arts. In Literacy in the Arts, edited by G Barton, 77-90. London: Springer.
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.