Research Practitioner Part 24

onion-layers

Research Study

Abstract

The aim of this Doctor of Creative Industries Research Project 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).  My research study is designed to be a multi-method qualitative study: a practice-based, ethnographic study that is to include a first-person narrative of my personal journey, critical reflection and reflexive practice, highlighting the co-constituted nature of my music-making practice. As an auto-ethnographic study, I designed the project for me to be performing the dual primary roles of being both the practitioner as subject, and the researcher. Such a multi-tiered examination represents a significant departure from current discussion of music practice, developing praxis of contemporary music practice. In this Project 1 research study exegesis submission I narrate the process to date, highlighting observation around my practitioner self, and my music practice and the emergent distinctions integrated into my developing music praxis.

~DL with Gretsch + C414.20141006.P21

(DLP 2015a)

Preamble

Continuing on from my previous blogs in this series….

In the beginning……

My journey in music-making commenced a number of decades ago. I made music via physical instruments without much thought of the process. I strummed chords on a guitar or piano, hummed or played a melodic phrase, developed lyrics, and over time a song emerged. I felt connected to the process; I felt connected to the music. I recall getting positive feedback when I shared my acoustic instrument-based songs with an audience. I followed this process several hundred times over several decades, and because of the relative ease these songs came to me, I did not feel a need to consider my music-making process.
As technologies developed, I transitioned into music-making using digital virtual technologies. I invested in virtual technologies, trialling a number of virtual music-making applications – digital audio workstations (DAWs). I experimented; I spoke to local pro audio retailers; I experimented some more; I bought instructional books and videos; I studied; I experimented a lot more. Over a number of years however, I found that irrespective of how much time and money I invested into my virtual music-making production practice, I never managed to achieve a similar flow or a similar feeling – a creative high – as I had music-making using physical instruments. My frustration using virtual technologies to make music grew. I enrolled into a practical tertiary course. The course assisted me greatly to develop my theory and practical skills. However, using virtual technologies to make music that I felt connected to, (largely) continued to elude me. There was one instance, a remix project where I felt a connection. That experience gave me hope that my attempts to use virtual technologies to make music I felt connected to, was not going to be in vain. I continued to experiment; I continued to read; I continued to invest; I continue to immerse my self into my virtual music-making production practice. However, I still found I wasn’t achieving a similar flow or a similar feeling – a creative high – using virtual technologies to make music as I had music-making using physical instruments. My frustration was at an all-time high. I had arrived at a juncture in my life where I felt there was now no alternative: my virtual music-making production practice needed an intervention. I needed to put my creative practice using virtual technologies to make music under scrutiny. In 2014 I applied to a formal academic research program – a professional doctorate program. I commenced the program in 2015. My formal research journey began.

My doctoral research study……

Research Study – 1st Observation:
I acknowledged that I approached my music-making practice in terms of the outcome – the finished product. I was not considering the process in which I was music-making, any more than with a cursory glance. My music-making practice was product-driven.

Starting Point_1st Observation.P1.png

(DLP 2017a)
I recognised that I approached my music-making with physical instruments in a different manner to my approach to music-making using virtual technologies (using my laptop to make music for example). In drilling down I determined that much of this was how I viewed both devices.
Physical instruments as I played were derived directly from nature. Pianos and guitars that I played were manufactured from woods from the forest. They are physical instruments that have natural resonant qualities. The woods expand and contract, depending upon temperature and humidity. They are large instruments that I can touch, embrace and/or feel the resonant qualities as they are played.
I viewed virtual technologies very differently. The actual device that housed the music-making application software (DAW) was a computer (a laptop for example). I saw a laptop as a device that houses many many application software that enabled me to record data and/or make transactions. I used computer technologies for administrative purposes (applications such as iNote, word, excel, etc); organisation purposes (applications such as iCal, reminders, etc); and everyday personal and business management (services such as the internet-based social media sites, banking sites, utility sites to pay bills, etc). I viewed the music-making application software (DAW) as somewhat removed from me. It was housed in a aluminium and plastic case, that I could see, but not touch. The virtual keyboards were   engaged by pressing a computer keyboard letter;  or perhaps a key on a plastic physical keyboard controller. Neither devices are derived directly from nature. They are manufactured. A computer and a keyboard controller are physical devices which also have natural resonant qualities. They only minimally expand and contract in extreme conditions, with such occurrences perhaps likely to render these devices inoperable. There is also a slight delay between the time you touch the key and having the sound emitted out of the computer monitors. They are not what I consider to be large resonant devices that can be embraced and/or feel the resonant qualities as they are played, such as I experience with a piano or guitar.
Research Study – 2nd Observation:
As I attempted to scope out the parameters of my research study,  I was led to look at the industry of my practice, the field of music production, and the particular discipline of virtual technologies to make music. This process revealed gaps in my knowledge, and enabled me to form linkages across several strands within the field of contemporary music production.
I then looked in greater detail at the history of my practice, understanding for perhaps the first time the implications of how I approached my music-making practice – as product rather than process.  I also started to consider me as a practitioner, as the music-maker. Who was I? How did I arrive to be this person?
My eyes were starting to open.
Starting Point_1st Observation.P2a
(DLP 2017b)
Research Study Phase 1 – 3rd.1 Observation:
As I progressed my research study, investigating my music-making practice, I started to highlight certain elements which I considered key to my practice. As a flow on from my music-making practice, I acknowledged that the self was an element that had to be included. What motivated me to practice?
Phase 1_3rd Observation.P3b
(DLP 2017c)
My music praxis (v4) had six (6) elements listed: self, motive, music style, location, technology and workflow.
dlp-music-praxis-v4-large-with-lines-20151203-p1
(DLP 2015b)
My research study was to be an investigation to determine what – if any – relationship existed between these elements. I engaged in conscious, deliberate and systematic reflective and reflexive practice of my creative practice, and as part of this process I felt obligated to consider everything that I observed.
As I progressively immersed myself into my quite isolated research study, I began to focus in on what I was doing at any point in time, as both the practitioner subject and the observer/researcher. To juggle both responsibilities was not beyond challenge and limitations. How was I to do both – be the creative practitioner, and simultaneously observe my practice?
Research Study Phase 1 – 5th Observation:
One of the first elements I noted to be part of my developing music praxis (v5) – beyond the initial six (6) elements I had observed at the time of my Project Brief submission – was listening. I noticed listening was central to agency within my practice. Listening directed my choices and decision-making within my practice in terms of music style – in my ability to critically and analytically listen to reference tracks; in terms of my selecting appropriate notes and/or sonic event samples during the creative, pre-production or production stages; in terms of hearing needed or possible options of contra-melodies, rhythms, harmonies or instrumentation during the creative, pre-production or production stages; in terms of determining the degree of adjustment of sound sources or processing that needed to occur during the production or post-production stages.

Phase 1_5th Observation.P5c

(DLP 2017d)
I started to observe that a central aspect of this listening was also in terms of my practice overall, such as deciding when I needed to have a break. Yes, listening to an inner voice, reminding me I was in need a break from creative practice. I started to notice by paying more attention to my self – to listening to my self – there was a great deal of head chatter occurring while I was engaged in practice.
DLP DCI Praxis v5i.20160531.P1
(DLP 2016a)
I had always known of my head chatter, but had accepted it by my mid-twenties as the outpouring of my inner fears as I approached a new experience. By my early-thirties I had learnt to manipulate this head-chatter, to work for me rather than against me. I used my head chatter to consciously motivate and focus my self. I have continued to develop this practice throughout my life, assisting me in preparing for any form of performance, be it: public speaking, education practice (as educator), learning practice (as learner in formal instrument or personal development), and my music practice (on stage performing). However, I had never considered, nor explored my head chatter beyond this; particularly within the context of my creative practice.
As I listened more, I recognised that this head chatter – inner speech – did not just consist of just one voice, but were in fact multiple voices; multiple voices with multiple perspectives. As I focussed in on my listening – consciously, deliberately and systematically – I realised these voices were not necessarily independent. There was often a dialogue occurring between them. As I honed my focus and developed my inner listening, I noticed that the dialogue within my head was occurring across three perspectives of time – one of now; one of past; and one of future. In effect, three voices representative of each point in time. As Wiley (2010, P17) refers to it: the I of the present; the me of the past; and the you of the future. An epiphany. A light bulb moment, an ‘aha’ moment for me. The head chatter – as I had always referred to it – that had accompanied me in so many events and stage of my life, was indeed the inner speech of my dialogic self.
As my immersion in reflective and reflexive practice of my research study deepened, I honed in on the incessant daily dialogue of my dialogical self and began to distinguish between the inner speech – the three inner voices, the triadic voices of the I, the me, and the you – for each of my three selves operating at any point in time within the site of my practice: the self, the practitioner self and the observer/researcher self. I would take time to listen to the dialogue at any point in time during my creative practice, as they considered and debated: what I was seeing or observing, what I was hearing, what I was feeling, what I was imagining, what I was recalling, what I was smelling, or even what I was tasting; in order to better understand my music praxis. I devised ways to take notes during my practice of these daily triadic conversations, in order to return to them, reflect on them, and decode them. My music praxis developed as a result of this process, to not only acknowledge significantly more stages and elements of my music-making process; but, perhaps most significantly, the non-linear form of my music praxis (v8i).

DLP DCI Praxis v8i.20161231.P1.png

(DLP 2016b)
I realised my music praxis was in fact very circular, with reflective and reflexive practice occurring constantly at any point in time. ­
My practice has now developed to the point where I can engage in multiple forms of listening whilst immersed and engaged in any stage of practice. I can now distinguish between the triadic voices of my three selves: the self, the practitioner self and the observer/researcher self in the present, the past, and the future within a very short amount of time, or sometimes, almost instantaneously and/or simultaneously. Just as my critical and analytical listening has developed over many decades of practice, my ability to listen and decipher the dialogue occurring within my dialogical selves at any point in time has also developed.
I liken this developed complex skill to other forms of practice where multiple tasks are required in sequence over a very short amount of time, often times almost instantaneously and/or simultaneously. The practice of driving a car and the practice of performing are similar type complex skills that need to be learnt; and are often awkward or impossible when one first attempts them with no prior experience. The act of driving a car – accelerating, braking, looking to the side for another car, indicating, moving lanes, whilst watching cars to the side, in front and behind is an example of such a complex task. Another example of a complex task would be leading a band, singing into a microphone, engaging an audience, playing guitar, and selecting guitar floor pedals, over a very short amount of time, often times almost instantaneously and/or simultaneously. I recall when I was younger, that I would never be able to learn how to do both complex tasks. Now I reflect on how many times a year I engage in both practices without any preparation, and perform them to a very high level of practice: almost unconsciously.
Learning about, and getting to know my dialogical self has assisted my music practice exponentially. As part of the process, I have developed a greater understanding of my self which in turn informed my practitioner self. This in turn allowed me to develop my music praxis to a greater depth and level of detail than I was able to previously. I now have far greater agency of my praxis (v9k), and its twenty-one (21) interdependent elements, at each of the various eight (8) stages of my creative practice.
DLP DCI Praxis v9i.20170420.P1
(DLP 2017e)
As a result, I have far greater agency of my praxis (v9k) while music-making. I am now exponentially more focussed and more deliberate in my practice, most noticeably in my music-making within virtual technologies. I have found my self now responding within my music-making micro workflow in a similar vein to that of my performing – improvising – on my long-term physical instrument of choice, the electric guitar. I observe that I now engage – almost instantaneously and/or simultaneously – in the voices of the I, the me, and the you – at any point in time, within my site/s of practice. A split second in-practice, on-practice and for-practice dialogue – in performance, in assessment of what the practitioner self just heard or performed, in consideration of what options the practitioner self now has before them, their decision as to what they want to express, and the performing of the next music-making action. Yes, a fluid practice performance that demonstrates the harmonious integration of the elements of self, listening, reflective and reflexive practice. In essence: I listen, I practice, I reflect, I analyse, I consider, I choose, I prepare to act, I act – almost instantaneously and/or simultaneously.
This research study Project 1 has been a personal journey of creative and research practice, highlighting the co-constituted nature of my music-making practice. I now engage in the process of music-making in pursuit of authentic expression of self, irrespective of the medium. My authentic music-making practice – in contrast to my practice prior to engaging in this doctoral research – now transgresses the mediums of: physical instruments and virtual technologies. I now have a sense of who I am, what I am attempting to create, why I am attempting to create it, and an affective connection in the creation of it, irrespective of the medium of my music-making practice – physical instruments or virtual technologies. Virtual technologies are now as much an extension of my music-making practitioner self’s body, as playing my physical instrument of choice, the electric guitar. Allow me now to share my finding of this research study Project 1 – Holistic model to authentic practice – my journey and development through the four (4) phases of: identity-driven practice, value-driven practice, narrative-based practice, and embodied practice.
DCI Project 1 Model Graphic_Overview.20170607.P1c1.png
(DLP 2017f)
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Research Practitioner Part 25. It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
References
DLP 2017a image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Holistic Model of an Authentic Practitioner. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2017b image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Holistic Model of an Authentic Practitioner. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2017c image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Holistic Model of an Authentic Practitioner. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2017d image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Holistic Model of an Authentic Practitioner. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2017e image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Developed Praxis v9k. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2017f image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Holistic Model of an Authentic Practitioner.  Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2017c image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Developed – Holistic Model of Authentic Practice. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2016a image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Developed Praxis v5b. Created 17th May, 2017
DLP 2016b image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Developed Praxis v8i.  Created 31st December, 2016
DLP 2015a image courtesy of David L Page. Created 14th September, 2015
DLP 2015b image courtesy of David L Page Project 1 Research Study Developed Praxis v4.  Created 4th December, 2015
Onion image courtesy of: Onion Layers Accessed 28th March, 2015
Page, David L. 2017. Doctoral Research Study Part 3 Accessed 17th May, 2017
Wiley, Norbert. 2010. “Inner speech and agency.” In Conversations about reflexivity, edited by Margaret S. Archer, 17-38. New York: Routledge
– @David L Page 17/05/2017
– updated @David L Page 30/05/2017
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

 

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Doctoral Research Study Part 3

~DLP Pro Image 1.20141020

(Page 2014a)
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2014b) for the previous blog.
saeq-joint-logo-201309

Reflecting on 2014 ….

My approach to practice was so different to that of my recently recruited peers. As part of the creative media studies stream, learners were now to be immersed in specific creative media lexis and theory, via tasks that guided the aspiring practitioners in the development of them selves as unique and individual creative media identities. They were to learn to critically consider what creative media is for them as practitioners; researching and investigating both concepts and areas of the creative media industry they may possibly choose to engage in via their practice. They were to then apply these concepts to develop their unique creative media practice. With a developed sense of themselves, having time to form their world views, they would be guided in their development as aspiring professional practitioners; and as academic researchers.

2017 Update

I commenced the doctoral program in February 2015. My formal research journey had begun. On the back of the new acquired knowledge and approach in 2014 as described in the previous blog in this series, I implemented a new blog strategy at the beginning of 2015. This saw me changing my blog site from tumblr.com to wordpress.com. I did this for a number of reasons, but primarily due to:
  • wordpress.com is what we were guiding our learners to create as their primary creative practice blog site;
  • functionality of the wordpress.com site, including the use-friendly nature of the interface, the editing features, and the ability to publish multi-media within the one entry.
wordpress-site-20160129
(Page 2017a)
A selection of the 2014 journal entries were published retrospectively in wordpress.com as blog posts as soon as I opened that site. In revisiting this particular blog post- formerly named Reflecting Part 2 – now, nearing the end of my Project 1, I have chosen to rename some of those blog posts. Most noteworthy are:
  • my realisation that Reflecting Part 1 was essentially about my self , effectively situating my self in regard to my – at the time – pending  research study. I therefore renamed this Doctoral Research Study Part 1;
  • my realisation that Reflecting Part 2 (this blog post) was essentially about my practitioner self , effectively situating my practitioner self in regard to my – at the time – pending  research study. I therefore renamed this Doctoral Research Study Part 2.
Pre-DCI 2014 Journal Entries.20170430.P2.png
(Page 2017b)
Standing here today, reflecting, I now realise how my focus within this Project 1 was influenced by my experience within my HE education & learning role in 2013 and 2014.  The small sample of blogs I currently have listed on my wordpress.com site under the menu category DCI Phase 0 – Starting Point (Page 2017c) – are representative of some of the new knowledge and approach I acquired and developed during that period.  These journals/blogs were completed prior to my official commencement of my doctoral studies, the research study I was choosing to embark on to seek out answers to my long-term queries regarding my music practice. Yes, these blog entries represented 10,000 words book-ending the beginning of my research study.

My view of 2013 & 2014, looking back from 2017….

Reflecting from this point, I realise now how much I have developed over the course of the past almost four (4) years, in terms of new knowledge and approach. I have developed a new set of eyes in terms of my self, and as a practitioner. I look at my developed identity – self and practitioner selves – in 2017, differently to how I saw my self and my practitioner self in 2013, just under four (4) years ago. I am surprised with the level of detail I now see my self, my practitioner self, and my practice is detailed. After all, I have always actively engaged in reflection. However, two (2) key distinctions have emerged.
Firstly: I always knew I was complex; I always knew I was diverse. I now accept I am complex. I now accept I am diverse. I have a wonderfully varied and diverse life. In my need to ground my self during a period of failing creative practice (‘writers block’?), in order to re-connect to my muse, it was suggested I attempt to re-connect to my identity. As a result, I revisited a task that I have led hundreds of professional through in their professional development; I developed a Charter of Values and Beliefs for my self and practitioner self across my Project 1. Three (3) versions over the course of sixteen (16) months. I noted a summary of these developments in my blog last month:
“Quantifiably, the development across the three (3) versions of the Charter of Values and Beliefs over the sixteen (16) months of Project 1 has been:
v1: 26 green entries – new entries – under 8 categories
v2: 55 entries under 10 categories (112% growth in entries)
v3:  87 entries under 11 categories (58% growth in entries)” (Page 2017d)
Viewing this blog in the graphic below – where v1 is column 1, v2 is column 2, and v3 is column 3  – the level of development across the sixteen (16) months is exemplified (see Research Practitioner Part 18 Page 2017d for greater detail of this chart):.
Charter of Values development v3_v10_13.20170320.P1
(Page 2017e)
Secondly: I acknowledged early in my Project 1 journey that I realised I was a multi-disciplinary practitioner (see Research Practitioner Part 5):
“I began to recognise that I naturally took a multi-discplinary approach in not only my music practice, but in my life in general. I recall few times in my life where I was content to focus on one discipline for an extended period of time. I have accepted that my practice now covers three broad disciplines: a broad definition of music practice (Small 1998), education and learning practice, and my most recent engagement, research practice” (Page 2016).
As per my blog Research Practitioner Part 16 in January (Page 2017f), this passage of time has also provided me an opportunity to realise I am a multi-facetted, multi-dimensional practitioner. Based on evidenced practice-led data, I have documented at various point in my journey multiple instances of how my self informs my practice; and how my practice inform my self.
reflection
Reflecting thus far,  I realise how I immersed my self into this research study, a creative project opportunity that has provided me reflections of my self, and of my practitioner self. I can see with more clarity who I am as a unique and individual creative media identity.  I have critically considered how I choose to engage in creative media – what motivates me – as a practitioner. I have researched and investigated how I engaged in my unique creative media practice. In doing so, I have left no stone unturned. Having crystallised my world view, with a developed sense of my self, I was then able to guide my own development via conscious, deliberate and systematic reflective and reflexive practice of my creative practice, as a professional practitioner; and as an academic researcher.
Yes, much like Bilbo Baggins (Bros 2014) I am grateful in retrospect, for the opportunity to go on the journey into what was largely unknown territory for me – academic research. It was a self-imposed intervention process in many ways, to look at my creative practice through a very different set of eyes than I had previously. I stepped forward out of my comfort zone, and put just about every facet of my practice under the microscope. I was the subject; and I was the observer.  At points I thought I was going out of my mind, observing my practitioner self in the midst of practice, trying to conduct two roles at once. I faced large droughts of creativity, playing with session files for hours on end, and yet not connecting at all to the music I was making. When i finally did connect, i experienced quite the complete opposite situation. All of a sudden I felt I was drowning in a mass of data – electronic and paper notes, creative doodles, mindmaps, charts, textural, theoretical and methodological literature, session files, microphones, recording equipment, software updates, and an increasing list of potential blogs – my attempts to narrate my journey as I progressed. As I near the end of Project 1, and attempt to further streamline my findings, into an exegesis, i immerse my self more into the journey it has been to date.  What a journey to date. Once I submit this document, I can then embark on the next Project this research study journey. I can’t imagine what is install for that next leg.

images

 (Terry-Toons Comics 1945-1951)
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Research Practitioner Part 23 (Page 2017g). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
References
Bros, Warner. 2014. “The Hobbit.” Accessed 26th December, 2014
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of:  Learning Accessed 25th December 2014
Page, David L. 2017a. David L Page wordpress.com site Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2017b. Revised DLP Blog Category Topics Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2017c. DCI Phase 0 Starting Point Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L 2017d. Research Practitioner Part 18  Accessed 15th May 2017
DLP 2017e. image courtesy of Data for DLPs Project 1_Music and Sonic Collage.20170529.v39 Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2017f. Research Practitioner Part 16 Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2017g. Research Practitioner Part 23 Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2016 Research Practitioner Part 5 Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2015. A Creative Artist’s Need – Gratitude Accessed 15th May 2017
Page, David L. 2014a image courtesy of David L Page Linked-In site  Accessed 25th December, 2014
Page, David L. 2014b. Doctoral Research Study Part 2  Accessed 15th May 2017
Reflection image courtesy of: Reflection Accessed 15th May 2017
Terry-Toons Comics. 1945-1951. Mighty Mouse in Mighty Mouse #38-85  Accessed 8th March, 2014.
– @David L Page 15/05/2017
– update @David L Page 17/06/2017
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

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