This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2017a) for the previous blog.
Observations of my developing perspective
Based on my observations of practice over the course of this doctoral program, in pure quantitative terms: the number of elements of my Praxis has increased from six (6) to twenty-one (21) elements of practice; the stages of practice has expanded from five (5) to ten (10); and my motives for practice have increased from the original nine (9) in Praxis v4 (end 2015); to nineteen (19) in Praxis v7i (end-2016); and twenty (20) in Praxis v8j (20170401). Perhaps most importantly, my view of what music is, and how I define music and sound-making practice, has exponentially broadened over this time. My knowledge of the lineage, and of the functions and faculties required in each of the approaches to music-making practice has exponentially deepened.
As a music-making practitioner, I believe I had always defined music in what I thought were quite broad terms. I always considered my self blessed to have had such diverse musical lineage influences from a relative young age, such as: European high art-based music; roots-based music from any number of continents and cultures, including indigenous musics from many cultures including Australia, North America, Japan, Thailand, East Africa and India; and electroacoustic and sonic art-based experimental pieces. From the age of eight (8) my house was filled with the orchestrations of European symphonies and operas (see Page 2014). By the age of ten (10), I was immersing myself in all things mainstream popular. Firstly via the only device I had access to, the radio; then, after a piano was placed in my room, I dabbled with that instrument over the next few years. My father returned overseas with a semi-acoustic guitar for my brother, which further fuelled my musical desires for particular instruments. Through radio, my brother and his friends, and my friends, my development of a broad range of music and sound styles continued, to include an array of roots-based musical styles such as folk, country, blues, rhythm & blues, rock, rock opera, and psychedelic rock (see Page 1990). Next my father returned overseas with another guitar – an acoustic guitar –; this time for me. I increasingly was using my pocket money to purchase records (45 rpms and then 33 rpm LPs) to satisfy a growing thirst of listening to all things music. From a young age, I was musicking. Inadvertently, as technology was developing exponentially, I was introduced to various alternative forms of music what I know now to have been electroacoustic and sonic art-based experimental pieces; and roots-based experimental pieces. As a result of both my parents regularly receiving international guests; then their relocation overseas and my extensive travelling with them; followed by my independent travels and relationships, I have also experienced a wide range of indigenous music, other than the mainstream popularised westernised form of roots-based music.
I hear musical elements in many forms of daily life, such as a goods training crossing at a local road. I hear a rhythm as each wheel passes over a particular join in the tracks. If I close my eyes – whilst waiting at the intersection – I hear the metallic sound of metal on metal – the wheel on the rail. Not a screech, but a high frequency that sits in the background of the developing soundtrack that appears to be unfolding before me. I hear the local galahs sitting in the tall gums in the campus behind me, become restless at the noise of the passing train, and squawk as they take off to fly to another location. As the train approaches the station about five (500) hundred metres down the tracks to my left, I hear the driver sound its horn. Within the surrounds of the station, and the commuter car park opposite, the sound seems to spiral into the air, adding further dramatic elements to this soundtrack, being written before me, continuing to unfold as time continues on. Is this music? Is this a musical piece with the homogenous musical elements of duration, pitch, dynamics and timbre (rhythm, harmony, and melody)? Mmmmm… perhaps it would be argued not by High Art-based trained musicologists. But is it a piece of soundtrack that accompanies the experience I am having in my life at that moment in time? Does this piece possess the heterogeneous sonic elements of mass, spatialisation, and sequence an electroacoustic and sonic art-based composition may have? I would respond with a resounding yes. Perhaps more importantly, does this soundscape have meaning – and therefore relevance – to the surrounding environment, the culture, the society, the community, and the individual? If this sample of my soundscape had been recorded, and played to any members of of a community, would they be in a position to derive meaning from it? Some may be reminded of where they once grew up, and be stimulated to travel; some may have a memory triggered, that takes them back to their childhood visiting cane growing areas such as Gladstone, Queensland, as I did as a boy; some may be reminded of being held up by the inconvenience of this train crossing; others may recognise the soundtrack, and get lost in the effect of the sounds of the galahs, the sound of the locomotion for the moment they are required to patiently wait; others may be reminded of where they live, and have their wander to narratives including other sound objects and sound events.
For me, I now take an even broader view of what music is. Music to me is no longer restricted to roots-based song, or High Art-based compositions created by what we know in the west as musical instruments. Music and sound for me now encompasses all things that may be embedded in an electroacoustic and sonic art-based style soundtrack. These may or may not include musical instruments, but will also likely include other sound related textures that may derive from synthetic devices, or from everyday life itself – sonic events, or sound objects.
At this point in time, there is less clear distinction between music-making and musicking. For me, there is less clear distinction between what I see as the elements of Praxis in my music-making practice, and the elements of Praxis in my non-music-making practice. The line between my music-making practice, and my non-music-making practice is now very blurred – if not feint, and becoming more feint every day as more time passes. I would argue, within my head there is always a soundtrack unfolding before me, over time. The primary governor here is, whether I am in a state – a personal space – to listen to the surrounding environment, and allow my self to have a memory triggered, or to immerse myself in musical and sonic textures of the particular soundtrack that is unfolding, over time. When I am in this personal space and allow my self to do so, I often find my self breaking a smile at this point, enjoying the aesthetic of the moment, re-situating one self into a past event, or another location, whilst often simultaneously in full-flight in an unrelated form of practice. I may look around the current site of practice I am in at that moment, and if/as one of the participants asks for assistance, I re-immerse my self back into that moment in time, and interact with that person in full presence. At that moment, I am. I am experiencing every moment both as private self, and social self. I am music-making within the environment by allowing my self to focus on an unfolding soundtrack, over time. A soundtrack that is not created using traditional musical instruments; a sound track that unfolds over time within that environment, drawing on any material generated from within that environment. That soundtrack supports me, as I make-meaning of that soundtrack at that particular point in time, based on my individual experience, memories, emotions and creative choices within my imagination. Concurrently, I am self-making. I am developing my self-image and self-concept based on that experience of both music and sound-making and meaning-making, at that moment of time. I then return to the immediate context – the particular environment of my practice at that moment in time, and engage with someone in real time, assisting them as they require. I am. On this note, I return to my conclusion of Moore’s quote in Chapter 1:
“music can be a useful resource in the development of the self – a way we can develop our identities; it is likely to be an individual experience in terms of deriving meaning; and a way to support the communication of our identities in social and cultural settings” (Page 2018, reflecting on Moore 2012).
I can say confidently that I now have greater clarity regarding my music and sound-making practice. However, the process has been far being a simple one. I had been warned that auto-ethnographic research studies would likely be an affective experience, both revealing and confronting. The warning was appropriate. The journey to date has been both, and so much more. At this stage of the research study, in few ways do I consider my self to be the same practitioner as when I considered embarking on this post-doctoral journey in 2014. In few ways do I consider my self to be the same person. Whilst I still don’t feel academic, I do note my ability to draw on a wide range of knowledge, and offer more frequent insight to those around me from a place of greater conviction, than I had previously. This is perhaps not surprising given the volume of titles of books, articles, and artifacts I have either read or at least skimmed and pondered their relevance to my particular pilot study.
The phrase music and sound-making, meaning-making and self-making has very clear meaning for me today, that more than likely would have glanced off my ears some two years months ago. I now ponder what I may understand in another two year that may currently glance off my ears? This thought now excites me, despite knowing that in the next Project 2 I am again likely to experience overwhelm and varying levels of anxiousness. I now understand these states represent a disparity between self-image, (in-) experience and self-esteem, that which can only be re-aligned through continuing to practice and realising the learning required. I now accept in the pursuit of new knowledge, as someone on a deliberate path of adaptive learning for fully-functionality and self-actualisation, experiencing these extra-rational faculty affective states are somewhat necessary. Academics such as Csikszentmihalyi (2005), Ohman (2010), Fredrickson & Cohn (2010), Kensinger (2010) connect overwhelm and anxiousness as emotional extra-rational faculty affective states associated with, and having an effect on self-making, meaning-making and practice. As a result of this Project 1 pilot study, I now better understand multiple selves; the causal relationship of emotion, memory and values of self or selves in practice; and how they may influence my decision-making across the broad elements and stages of practice. I can see clearly now how one’s practice informs one’s self, and how one’s self informs one’s practice. I now accept my music and sound -making practice, my creative practice – in fact all of the forms of my practice – as “technology of the self” (Foucault 1988, 16).
 My grandfather’s piano our family inherited following his death. For some reason, this piano was put into my room. I do not recall why, but in hindsight, I suppose I am grateful that it occurred given the influence it had on my musical development.
 For example, I may be at the time delivering a management training session to a group of business persons
 1,896 titles currently inhabit my Endnote software application, along with another 4,000 PDFed articles, evidencing the breath and depth of textural artifacts and literature I have engaged in this relatively short time frame.
 The song “I can see clearly now” was a major influence as I was growing up. Nash, Johnny. 1972. I can see clearly now. Epic. Vinyl LP.
(Reality Shifts 2017)
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Pilot Study – Part 16a (Page 2017b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
DLP 2016 image courtesy of David L Page. Accessed 28th November, 2016
Foucault, Michel. 1988. “Technologies of the self.” In Technologies of the Self: a Seminar with Michel Foucault, edited by Luther H Martin, H Gutman and Patrick H Hutton, 16-49. London: Univ of Massachusetts Press.