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.
Continuing on from my previous blogs (Page 2015b) 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.
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.
Project 1 Pilot Study – 3rd Observation:
As I progressed my initial Project 1 Pilot Study, exploring the parameters of 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?
My music praxis (v4) had six (6) elements listed: self, motive, music style, location, technology and workflow.
My initial pilot study was to be an exploratory investigation to determine the parameters of my music practice; and to investigate 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 pilot 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?
Project 1 Pilot Study – 6th 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.
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.
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).
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.
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 Project 1 Pilot Study 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 Project 1 Pilot Study – 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.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Research Practitioner Part 25 (Page 2017g). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2014b) for the previous blog.
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.
I commenced the doctoral program in February 2015. My formal research journey had begun. On the back of the 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.
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.
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):.
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.
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.
(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.
Bros, Warner. 2014. “The Hobbit.” Accessed 26th December, 2014
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of: Learning Accessed 25th December 2014
The series of memory blogs that follow this Introductory blog are part of David L Page’s creative process – reflecting on selected significant events in the early stages of his life, and associating sonic and musical textures that best represent his memory of those significant events. The collection of associative memories will then be formed into a composition – The Dark Years: A Boy Who Was Beaten – which David L Page will produce as a fifteen (15) minute soundtrack of the first stage of his life. This cultural artefact is to make up one part of his Doctoral Project 1 submission.
Doctoral 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 mixed-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 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.
Blog Posts as part of the Reflective Practice journaling process
Welcome to David L Page’s recollection of his story.
These blogs are David’s attempt to share his recollection of the most significant events of the early stages of his life, as best as he can – events that David believes have shaped the development of his self, or the development of his musical self.
The deep reflective practice process David engaged in as part of his creative practice, saw him over some time, situating himself back in time, delving deeper and deeper into the place and the event. Of course, as much as he could possibly do decades after an event, when so much distance has occurred in terms of time and place – David’s aim was to recall as much of the kinaesthetic, the auditory, the visual, the olfactory, or even the gustatory sensations of the particular time and place – of that particular significant event. This is not entirely a new experience for David, merely describing the process he has always intuitively put himself through in his creative practice endeavours, particularly in his music practice – creation, performance, or production. The difference in this research study is however, David had to learn how to more consciously focus in on the selected suite of significant events – at a scheduled time – to more deliberately situate him self back in time, whilst recording the data of each of his in-situation experiences.
You will notice that the various blog posts – more often than not – David has included associated visuals or images, to accompany the written text, along with the attached associative sonic and musical event. David’s intention was to be able to share his in-situation experience with his audience as much as he could. David trust’s these blogs will appeal to either the kinaesthetic, the auditory, or the visual senses of the audience. With more advanced technology, or perhaps an alternative medium, David would like to – in the not too distant future – also share his in-situation olfactory and gustatory sensation experience with his audience.
David L Page’s Reflective Practice process
David requested for it to be noted: the output of each reflection of a significant event arrived as a result of a range of catalysts. David found his deep reflective re-expereinces occurred as a result of a range of catalysts used stimulate memory recall. These included: a calendar date; a visual image in a photo album for example, a book – quote, passage, or once just the cover – , a magazine – with handwritten notes in the borders, the internet – pictures or articles, or his vast stock of past writings – streams, prose in working, lyrics in working. On a few occasions the catalyst was something David saw in life that reminded him of a time or place; at other times a blurred visual image or colour that reminded him of a past time, place, or event; at other times, a sonic texture he heard in his head situated him back in time; or by a sound he heard as he conducted himself in his every day life. At other times, an old song or piece of music, a musical phrase or motif that triggered a memory – something in someone else’s composition, on occasion something he played on an instrument ; at other times, it was a smell – weather, forest, water, toilet freshener, food cooking; at other times, it was a taste – some deliberate, others by accident; and at other times, it was a feeling he had, and recalled a past time, place or event. On many occasions, it was while he was working in another form of practice, something was said or happened that triggered a memory. David noted these down on a phone message or in iNotes, to return to explore them to a greater depth when he had the time to reflect, and more deeply drill down into the particular event.
However, what ever the catalyst, it was unusual for David not to have reverted to the written word at some point in this deep reflective process. At the base of all of David’s practice, lies writing in some style, form, or medium. More often than not in practice, David engaged in streaming his consciousness onto the page – physical or virtual. This streaming could have been just ramblings from his mind, not quite sure yet of what he wanted to say, but trusting he had to get it out, and down onto the page for some greater future benefit. All writings after all, were to make up the wide range of data to be collected in this research study Project 1. Therefore, David made a special effort not to judge the merit or worth of that data at the time – in the moment of performance of his practice, at any particular time. He gathered it all. Often, emotions accompanied these streamings, deepening the in-situation experience. Sometimes these emotions were easily tapped; but most often David had to draw his self in over many hours, days, weeks or months, in order to arrive at what he could finally accept was the essence of that particular significant event. More often, possibly than David would like to admit, tears flowed as his in-stuation experience intensified, reassuring his self of the value and merit of this significant event and the particular in-situation experience, at that time. Sometimes a narrative flowed out of this streaming in the form of a tale; at other times, as prose; at other times, as song-type lyrics; and at other times, distinctions regarding his self, or any one of the forms of his practice – be it creative, research – reflective and reflective, or education and learning. [for more information about a multi-faceted/multi-dimensional approach to practice, see Research Practitioner Part 16 blog].
In terms of this Research Study Project – and most particularly – this series of deep reflective memory blogs – he observed that there was no particular order of the stimulations. On some occasions David commenced in the digital audio workstation (DAW), composing from whatever memories he held of the significant event at the time – associating sonic or musical textures that he felt best represented those occasions, and assisted to return him to the in-stutation experience. At other times, David began in an excel chart, reflecting on the significant event, and allowing thoughts, feelings, images and aural events to return him to the in-stutation experience. On other occasions, David used the writing process to return him to the in-stutation experience.
However, irrespective of what practice or what medium David commenced the deep reflective process, David recycled through most of these processes and mediums – usually multiple times – in no particular order. With each cycle, David deepened the level and intensity of experience, in order to arrive at a deep reflective in-stutation experience, to gather the range of data for this research study Project 1. You will therefore observe in the following sixteen (16) blogs, a variety of layouts, formats, writing styles, graphics or images; along with accompanying links to an equally wide variety of associative sonic and musical textured events.
David’s hopes, as you join him in his journey back to the first stage of his life, you will start to hear his voice emerge through the multi-modal narratives of these sixteen (16) significant events. He trusts you will get a sense of how David gains clarity of his self, as he gains a better understanding of his identity, musical identity, and how his musical self developed over the first twenty years of his life. This research study was always to be an immersive study; a a first-person narrative of David L Page’s personal journey, critical reflection and reflexive practice, highlighting the co-constituted nature of his music practice.
We welcome you to his journey…..
[NB: Included in each memory blog is a link/s to the associative sonic and musical textures that David feels best represent his in-situation memory of each of the particular significant events].
Message from David L Page
In the early 1990’s I returned home to Australia following a very productive period in creative practice overseas “performing and writing, including recording and experimenting in production. It was a wonderful period for me – one that I hoped would never end” (Page 2014). I recall I arrived home with a new self-image in terms of my creative practice.
In an attempt to develop my practice for my next stage of life, I undertook a number of creative writing courses. The outcome of these programs were a number of pieces of prose, of key moments within my life while I was growing up [see for example, Boy]. A number of the instructors and peers at the time noted my ability to re-situate my self back into the moment of a past event, in some way re-experiencing that experience, in order to then write about it. It was a technique I had developed and practiced, already using this technique across some of the forms of creative writing I engaged in – streaming my consciousness and song lyrics. This technique applied to writing lyrics aligned with my desired confessional singer-songwriter role. A really positive outcome of these creative writing courses was not only the prose, but perhaps more so, my acceptance of this practice as a conscious, deliberate process that I could now apply to another form of my creative writing, prose.
In early 2014, as I was re-considering the focus of my Doctoral Research Study (I had already been accepted), I began brainstorming my journey as a music practitioner. I was very keen on reflecting on more eras, to recall:
how had I arrived at where I was at as a music practitioner?
what life experiences had influenced who I was, or wasn’t, as a music practitioner?
I wanted to articulate these key life experiences into a fluid narrative – my autobiography – of my journey to date. I did return to some of the prose written in the early 1990’s as well as other pieces of creative writing I had done at other times across my life. This reflective exploration took several months, resulting in the narrative overview, Music Practitioner Part 1 – Beginnings (MP Pt1 – Beginnings) blog. I would like it noted though: when I first started writing this autobiography, I had no thought or consideration about doing a soundtrack around my life’s significant events. I had considered at this stage that I would write in the style that I had always done – in an acoustic folk pop song musical style.
Fast forward to 2016 with me now engaged in my Project 1, some 25 months after I had written the MP Pt1 – Beginnings blog, In my search for a thematic idea for my compositions (songs), I started focussing in on more specific events across my life. This then led to another event, and then another, and then another. This process spanned approxiamtely four (4) to five (5) months, arriving as some thirty-five (35) significant events. I then considered how I was going to derive a musical project out of these significant events, arriving at the idea of focussing in on associative memories of each of the significant events. I would – through reflection – associate musical and sonic events for each of the significant event; and then craft the sum of these associative memory events into a soundtrack as the cultural production output for my research study. A musical and sonic collage of my life, if you like.
I knew a challenge for me was going to be to contain the length of the composition – short enough to maintain listener interest; and yet long enough to authentically represent the sum of these significant events. But with thirty-five (35) significant events, it was going to be too long a composition for one Project. I however noted that there was a natural division within the significant events of two time frames that I could possibly divide between my Research Study Project 1 and Project 2: up until twenty (20) years of age; and post-twenty (20) years of age. I decided that it would be logical to have Project 1 represent the associative memories of the first twenty (20) years of my life.
I started experimenting with some sonic events, directly inside the digital audio workstation (DAW). Whilst I gained confidence with my vision, I found that I easily lost focus within each event, and could create some musical or sonic events that were less authentic, less congruent to me of an associated memory. The blogs evolved as a way to more specifically focus in on a range of highlighted events, drawing my self into each of them to determine the actual particular significance of the event. I found by immersing my self into each event via a number of written forms (prose, lyrics, narrative), I could deepen the in-situation experience, and better recall a range of kinaesthetic, auditory, visual, olfactory, or even gustatory sensations of the particular significant event. After experimenting across a number of these significant events, I learnt to trust the physical and emotional responses of these in-situation re-experiences as they occurred. For me, the actual sixteen (16) significant events narrated are real. Whilst immersed in this creative practice, I noted experiences including an inability to breathe, shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and body pain. I relived experiences that brought up emotional responses such as joy, sorrow, fear, sadness, nervousness, loneliness, loss, and feelings of abandonment and shame whilst in-stuating my self within these significant events, and writing these blogs. My planned research study was always to have been a first-person narrative of my personal journey: an emergent study, revealing aspects of my life I had not previously considered fully, or perhaps fully understood. I expected this journey was potentially going to be revealing, and at times, confronting, True to my expectations, it has been.
I trust that you as the reader can in some way experience my re-experiences of significant events within my personal journey, that I now choose to share.
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.
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2014b) for the previous blog.
Year 2015: 1st Observation
Commencing the doctoral program, I had a relative clear idea of my proposed research study problem. I say relative as, as I have progressed through the many twists and turns of my doctoral program, I have gained clarity regarding just about every aspect of my planned research topic – my practice, my self understanding, the music styles I am attracted to, the reasons I use certain technologies, workflows, just to name a few. In few ways do I consider my self to be the same person – the same practitioner as when I considered embarking on this post-doctoral journey in 2014. This is my journey. Buckle up, as I take you for the ride of my life.
By the end of 2014, I had a clear idea of my research study problem. I made music in two ways:
using physical instruments; and,
using digital virtual technologies
I wanted to know why I felt connected to my music-making when using physical instruments, and why I largely did not feel connected to my music-making when using digital virtual technologies.
I made music via physical instruments. 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 music. I recall getting positive feedback when I shared my acoustic instrument-based songs with an audience. I followed this approach many hundreds of times over several decades.
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. 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.
End product orientated in my music-making
I acknowledged that I naturally took an end product focus with my music-making. Perhaps due to the relative ease I made music via physical instruments, I had never felt a need to consciously consider my music-making process. Similarly, I viewed my music-making in virtual technologies from an end product perspective. However, because I struggled with the results of my making music via virtual technologies, I had begun to realise that I perhaps needed to reconsider that approach. Perhaps I needed to consciously consider my music-making process?
A question that arose in my mind was:
how did I achieve this connection in one form of music-making – using physical instruments, and not another form of music-making – using digital virtual technologies?
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Research Study Part 2a (Page 2015). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2014b) for the previous blog.
My life – music-making and education & learning
My journey in music-making commenced a number of decades ago. I made music via physical instruments. 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 music. I recall getting positive feedback when I shared my acoustic instrument-based songs with an audience. I followed this approach several hundred times over several decades, and because of the relative ease these songs came to me, I never had felt a need to consciously 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 grew using virtual technologies to make music. 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 2013 I applied to a formal academic research program – a professional doctorate program. I was accepted in readiness for commencing in 2014. However, as I neared the 2014 commencement date I accepted my very busy education and training role was not going to be conducive to embarking on such a demanding journey as a doctoral research study, at that time. I therefore immediately applied for a delayed commencement to 2015.
With my delayed commencement formalised, it allowed me to reconsider – to delve down into the many ideas I had for a higher degree research study topic. I developed mindmaps for each of the nineteen (19) potential topic ideas I had, drilling down to see where they took me. I was looking for a topic that allowed me to research as many aspects of interest.
In 2013/2014 I was practicing creatively, while also lecturing in creative media across the range of audio production modules – audio theory, signal flow, microphones, processing – , and a cross-disciplinary creative media studies module. SAE Institute has been going through exponential development – strategically and structurally. With a radical change to the focus of their academic programs, new academic staff were being recruited to lead the re-writing of the academic programs. SAE Institute revised focus was now to be project-based learning, promoting learners to engage to more in the learning process, developing assessment tasks that met their interests while realising the required learning outcomes. A major benefit of this approach was the possibility of cross-disciplinary collaborations. As part of the revised focus, all undergraduate programs were now to include studies in the broad discipline of creative media studies and critical thinking. As a Senior Lecturer with broad experience across a number of disciplines, I was assigned to assist on one of the new cross-disciplinary creative media studies module. Late last year the new versions of the undergraduate programs were rolled out.
However, despite many decades of post-compulsory education experience, I found in talking to the newly recruited academics a lot of their language that largely went over my head. These new peers were recruited from within the Australian higher education (HE) institutional system. Following completion of their doctorates, most had taught in the specialised HE environment, whilst continuing with their research projects and publishing schedule.
As part of the creative media studies stream at our Institute, 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 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 undergraduate academic researchers.
My background, and therefore my approach, was so different. I had developed my multiple forms of practice throughout my life, fundamentally as a craftsperson. I was practical. I liked to be hands-on. I had learnt to become a successful practitioner via the 10,000 hour rule – practice, consider, practice, reconsider, practice, etc. I had a Masters level of education, but I didn’t ever consider my self as a higher education critical thinker. I was a practical person that looked at outcomes. This is what I did for organisations over a number of decades – I improved outcomes. I was analytical for a functional outcome. My brief entrée in an education doctorate program in 1999 reinforced this. I accepted I was not naturally inclined as a scholar. I was a functional, practical practitioner.
When the newly recruited academics began arriving at SAE Institute late last year, speaking a language that largely went over my head, I felt very out of place. By the beginning of this year, I felt very challenged. Challenged on every front: as an educational practitioner, despite my years of experience, knowledge and developed skills; as a music practitioner – again, despite my years of diverse experience, knowledge and developed skills; as a guide and mentor to my learners. A question I asked my self was: how could I guide others when I was struggling with my own learning? I was struggling to both understand and engage in all forms of technology and networking opportunities currently on offer via the internet that were now part of the Institute’s degree program. I recall questioning my place within the higher education environment; I recall questioning my place within the Institute; in fact, I even recall questioning my place within an organisational workplace.
I have never considered my self smart, but had the experience of knowing what had served me well for most of my life: the principle of 10,000 hours (Page 2004). I decided to engage developing this new knowledge and approaches to contemporary creative media practice in the only way I knew how: hours of research, and hours of trial and error. My motive to engage in this were: I knew I needed to learn in order to model to my learners what their assessment tasks were asking of them; I needed to learn in order to be able to guide my learners as to how to do such tasks effectively and efficiently; I needed to learn in order to model the importance of these approaches in order for them to develop an industry ready practice by the end of their degrees; I needed to learn in order to engage with my new peers – the recently recruited academics; I knew I needed to learn in order to embrace new ways of seeing my practice – to see my creative practice through a different set of eyes. After all, my eyes had only gotten me so far in my creative media career. I was also reminded that my entire point of my engaging in my intended higher degree research was to discover what I had not been able to discover within my own means. Whilst this process was not yet part of my doctoral research study, I recall seeing the situation I found my self in as an opportunity to learn and develop under the tutorage of several published creative media academics. In addition to understanding the value of hard work, I also understood that I had always been an opportunist. I decided to embrace this opportunity of these new found peers, irrespective of whether I could immediately see the point or benefit of how such new knowledge or approach was going to apply to my creative practice. Frankly, I couldn’t. My head chatter throughout the year has been at a critical level. Internally, almost on a daily basis, I have been debating the pros and cons of such knowledge or approach, particularly in regards to the internet-based technology and networking opportunities.
Below is a small sample list of journal entries I have written in 2014. These journal entries record my newly acquired knowledge and approach to my music-making practice. These have been written for my eyes only, in order to record my learning, and to frame my position with regard to these topics as a practitioner; particularly for my role as an education and learning practitioner in a creative media higher education institution. You will note: some of the journal entries are more technical in nature – for example, the first four (4) Critical listening journals; some are about developing how, as a practitioner, I interact with society – for example the Media Identity and Curation journal; whilst others are about reflecting on my autobiography, and starting to consider who I was as a music practitioner – for example Beginnings, Life is About the Moment, What Brought Me Here and Genealogy. I concluded this year with the journal entry Reflecting Part 1 (as described in Doctoral Research Study Part 1 (Page 2014b), reflecting upon my life up until now. I was about to embark up a new journey in academia, and needed now to ground my self, and begin to focus on the journey in front of me.
I believe going through this intensive one plus year long process was worthwhile in my development as an education and learning practitioner, in the specific discipline of creative practice. As I acquired this new knowledge, I found I now:
· felt more broadly informed when I taught related topics at this Institute; and
· more informed and better able to engage with learners in a range of discussions that I had been able to previously;
· more equipped to respond quickly to their many questions, irrespective of which discipline they were engaged in;
· whilst I was not of the belief that I had yet arrived at a clear sense of my identity following this twelve (12) to fifteen (15) months worth of development, I did accept that I now had a positive view of the direction I was heading in. I had a sense that I was on the right path. I was seeking new knowledge about alternative approaches to what I had previously considered. I had a sense that my nervous excitement, looking to the horizon in front of me, was infectious, and motivating for most of the learners that I engaged with at the Institute.
I therefore consider this experience to have been very worthwhile in my development as an education and learning practitioner, in the specific discipline of creative practice. I inherently knew that it also prepared me better for my pending studies in 2015.
Preparing for 2015
Yes, I was excited about my pending studies; nervously excited about the journey into what was largely unknown territory for me – academic research. In some ways, I likened my nervous – apprehensive – excitement to that of the character Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit (Bros 2014): nervous about embarking on a new adventure – perhaps even somewhat resistant; but trusting I was in need of going on this adventure, for a greater good. It was for me, in many ways, a self-imposed intervention process. I know I needed to look at my creative practice through a different set of eyes. As I have mentioned: the eyes I had previously been looking through had only gotten me so far in my creative media career. I knew I needed to walk down new paths in order to discover new knowledge and approaches that I had not been able to discover within my own means in all my prior decades of practice. I was ready to apply my self to the commitment that others had led me to understand was going to be required. Of the new academic peers I had met, one had taken ten (10) years to attain their doctorate; another seven (7) years; another six (6) years; another five (5) years. I knew undertaking a three (3) full-time doctoral program, whilst working in a very demanding full-time education and learning role, was going to need focus, and lots of hours: probably 10,000 hours.
I commenced the doctoral program in 2015. My formal research journey had begun. On the back of the new acquired knowledge and approach in 2014, 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 students 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.
These journal entries were published retrospectively in wordpress.com as blog posts as soon as I opened that site. The small sample of blogs I currently have listed on my wordpres.com site under the menu category DCI Phase 0 – Starting Point (Page 2017c) – are representative of some of this new knowledge and approach I acquired and developed during this 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 hopefully find answers to my long-term queries regarding my music practice: 10,000 words book-ending the beginning of my research study.
(Terry-Toons Comics 1945-1951)
This blog series is planned to continue next month with A creative artists need (Page 2015). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Ericsson, K.A., Krampe, R.T. and Tesch-Römer, C., 1993. The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological review, 100(3), p.363.
I have never considered my self smart. My schooling test results were mainly above-average, but I worked consistently, and often for long hours in order to achieve these. I recall I often looked to those who got the top grades – those who appeared to do it effortlessly – and wondered what they had inside their heads that I didn’t. My mother was strict, and prohibited me from going out to play until I had done my chores, and homework. I therefore sat there, and continued to toil, in order to be able to get outside. It brought both resentment (for being denied play time) and conviction (to get my chores or home tasks completed, in order to get outside to enjoy playtime). Possibly this was imposed as a result of other behaviour I exhibited in the years prior, but I don’t recall what or when this, may have been.
I do however recall I always seemed to get into trouble with my parents, relatives and teachers, just for being me. Mmmmm……… Ok, I was probably mischievous. Thinking back, there was the time I talked my neighbour’s sister into going with me to the local gas station to buy a packet of cigarettes. I recall I was seven (7) years old, and she was possibly four (4) years old at best. What was the fuss? No one was harmed – just a simple afternoon walk. It was of no consequence to anybody really…… well, except the girl’s parents. When they eventually found out, they in turn told my parents. Mmmm…. banished to my room with limited dinner, no playing and no talking for what seemed like a month.
I perhaps had a limited filter between my thoughts and my mouth. I thought, I spoke, I acted.
(Terry-Toons Comics 1945-1951)
My mother was an active P+C member in my schools, and therefore she knew the teachers, and most likely, the principal. One of my school principals was a very social person. He would hang in the school grounds and talk to the students at break times. He was large – a big guy – with snow white hair, and a large jovial face. Much like I imagined Santa Claus would look like in an everyday suit. He was well over weight. I recall – when I was about six (6) years old – during a playground catch up sharing with him what my brother and sister called him at home – Fatty Arbuckle. Several days later, I recall coming home to be greeted by my mother…. mmmm….I was banished to my room with limited dinner, no playing and no talking for what seemed like a month. She had heard through the Principal at a P+C meeting what I had shared with him. I hadn’t told him to be malicious – I just thought it was funny, and wanted to share it with him. I was sure he would enjoy it. Mmmmm…. note to self.
I was left-handed. Up until I was about eight (8) years old, the teachers at my first primary school made me sit on my left-hand during class times, to (as they said) ‘get it (my left-handedness) out of my system’. I remember when I moved up to the next class level at another school, being told to sit on my left-hand was no longer a focus of the teacher. I recall wondering whether this ceasing to focus on my left-handedness being an issue at the new school was due to the teacher, the school’s approach, or in fact it was just the end of an era of left-handedness being considered wrong.
I recall I was naturally happy – smiling, and this too caused issues. Again with parents, relatives, and teachers – wondering with such a smile on my face, what I was up to. I recall a teacher talking sternly to our class one day (we had possibly been talking and acting up while waiting to be let into our home room after a lunch break). All students were standing, ready to be seated by our teacher prior to class, as she dressed us down for our noisy behaviour in the corridor. I was apparently standing there, during this dressing down, with a smile on my face. “What are you smiling at?” she barked. “I, I , I am happy?” I responded meekly. The class laughed, though I am unsure of whether they were laughing with me, or perhaps laughing at me?
I was average at individual sport, but recognised early on, the advantage of team sports. I learnt that within a team I could excel. I became a year house captain within my school; and played in team sports on Saturday mornings, with a team that was consistently in the top two teams in the district over an 8 year period.
I was always a practical person, wanting to do things with my hands, but also realised I wanted to know how it worked, and how I could use it for other applications. I pulled apart all kinds of gadgets, toys, billy carts, wheel-barrows; antique clocks, motor mowers, motorbikes, and cars. I admit I didn’t like the follow up process – the putting back together of these things. I had learnt in pulling them apart what I needed to know – how it worked, so that I could then consider other applications. I made (make believe) sports cars, space ships, and moon craft with the many parts I had before me – all in the backyard. Once I had created my make believe craft, I would then move onto the next thing. Yes, I got bored quickly.
Industry beckoning me
I quit school because I was bored, preferring to get out start working with adults. I started engineering at a trade level, but quickly realised, as soon as I had worked out the how, I was again ready to move on. I then applied to enter tertiary study, fumbling my way through a bachelor’s degree without having completed the final two years of high school. I used the time to explore all manner of things – philosophy, re-engage with my music-making, experiencing social events, bands, pubs, live gigs, and girls. I struggled to find my place in that institution studying a business degree, but looking through many photos of that era, I recall I had a lot of fun trying. Eventually, when I ended up graduating, I immediately headed overseas to explore the world. I arrived in Asia to an opportunity in corporate education and training. I played in a number of cross-cultural band, performing at many cultural festivals. As a foreign educator and trainer, I was also volunteered to make addresses at significant events in the local region, such as at the openings of bridges and at local government and community meetings. I gained invaluable experience and skills, that had I stayed in my native Australia, i would not have had similar opportunities. Several years passed and I returned home. I considered my options, and chose to formalise my experience gained in education and training with qualifications, in order to be able to continue my education and learning practice in Australia.
After some ten (10) years of practice, the next level of formal qualifications beckoned. I re-entered university to complete my masters degree. At its conclusion, it was suggested I progress onto a doctorate in that discipline. However, after only a short time of study, I was tempted back into industry. The choice was easy for me to make – to apply in real life my proposed thesis topic, rather than remaining at university and developing the thesis statement theoretically.
I commenced managing a local site of a globally-run business, and within a few years had surpassed all projected targets. I progressed into a number of global leadership roles. These required much local and international travel attending conferences, and leading staff training and professional development sessions across a number of content areas: organisational and operational management (including finance, HR, business development, systems and processes), and my developing expertise -corporate culture. Within a global business with over 30 sites around the globe, there was always a need for re-aligning sites to the organisational needs. My demonstrated expertise in change management provided an opportunity to move overseas permanently, heading a region that was now in financial difficulty, and facing deregulation by the countries’ governing body. Over a three year period, I liaised closely with government, governing bodies, financial institutions and head office to return the regional multi-site entity to full accreditation and profitability. Unfortunately, just a few months after this GFC hit the global economy and over a twelve month period, the corporate entity – located in Japan – went into receivership. Fortunately, the region I had led in its development was one of the few secure entities to survive the GFC, and was able to be on-sold. My wife and I returned home to Australia, to enter our next phase.
As my career had developed into governance roles, I formalised this experience with a qualification upon returning home. As a number of education, training and consulttancy opportunities arose, I arrived into the industry of my main passion, creative arts. Firstly, an education and training role in music and sound; followed by governance roles in film and arts business development. Having embarked on a doctorate previously, and not choosing to continue it, I had a feeling of incompleteness. In addition, having only formally studied my area of passion – music and sound – at an entry tertiary level, and still having so many unanswered questions, I decided to enquire what possible programs I could consider. In talking to several industry contacts, I was quickly referred to the Head of Department at one of Queensland’s leading universities, and over the course of a fifteen (15) minute conversation, a Doctorate of Creative Industries was suggested. I proposed a topic and after some months I received confirmation of my acceptance.
Symbol of my learning and development
Over the past number of years, I have used the image of the purple onion to represent my approach to life. I am committed to learning – something I have done over most of my life – looking under the many layers of my practice or self in order to gain more insight into life and practice. I still do not consider my self smart, but experienced. I believe in Ericsson’s 10,000 hours (Ericsson in Page 2004), and believe much of my life’s success is based on constant and continued work, rather than any presence of intelligence. I therefore embark on my doctoral pilot study journey with this in mind, and trust that this approach will be sufficient to have me realise the required milestones, at the level of rigour expected of Australian tertiary studies.
My journey begins….
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Pre-Doctoral Research Study – Part 2 (Page 2014b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Ericsson, K.A., Krampe, R.T. and Tesch-Römer, C., 1993. The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological review, 100(3), p.363.
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of: Learning Accessed 15th October 2013
Page, David L. 2016 image courtesy of: Slideshare Accessed 30th April, 2017
Due to the ill health of my mother and her need for many medical operations over an extended period, I lived in a very dark house for the first seven (7) years on my life. With the curtains and blinds drawn shut the majority of the time, and bedrooms doors closed, I mostly only remember darkness during this time. Other memories include sitting in a very tense environment, fearful we would be reprimanded for talking out of turn, and disturbing my mother, and; being sat in front of a television screen for hours on end as a way of occupying my attention. To this day, the cartoon Mighty Mouse is at the forefront of my memories.
(Terry-Toons Comics 1945-1951)
I recall having the sense that my world was a remote place – perhaps on an island – and the main people I knew at that time were my brother, sister and father. I recall a number of big people – not sure who they were, but perhaps distant relatives, neighbours, or the wives of dad’s work colleagues – came and went during that time, assisting my father with daily duties such as preparing meals, I guess cleaning and our care. I certainly do not recall life in our house.
As I grew somewhat – perhaps around five (5) years of age – I recall spending time exploring the local bushland with my brother and some of the local neighbourhood kids, or my mates from junior rugby. Whilst it was fun exploring, and having new adventures with others, I do however recall that I was happiest in my own company, constructing things and becoming quite rowdy, exercising my unlimited bounds of energy and exploring my voice.
Then at the age of eight (8) years old, once my mother had somewhat recovered from her health issues, we moved into a new house in a new suburb on the North Shore of Sydney. The split-level house had its’ main living area on the top floor – bedroom, living room and kitchen – with the garages, laundry, rumpus room and bar kitchen on the ground floor. The blinds and curtains in our new house were literally pulled back. It was a large light and airy house with a large leafy garden, including a massive willow tree in the middle of it. It was a huge garden for an eight year old to exercise and explore, ride his scooter, yell and sing as he continued to explore his voice to his heart’s content, away from disturbing the family. The sea change included my mother playing what became her daily dose of European classical music – Baroque, Classical and Romantic (including Opera). In addition, my mother loved the pop artists of that era: those who performed on the television program of the day, “Bandstand”. In that era, it was one of the few opportunities to view the latest contemporary artists and hits on television. Whilst I still did not feel as though I belonged to anything – to my new school, my new rugby team, or the local neighbourhood kids – my world now had light and music in it.
Apparently, the music resonated with me and before long I was singing along. I recall having melodies in my head, and I would hum them out, not aware of what I was doing, nor what was to come. I was always an early riser, and keen to get into the day. I would wake well before my brother, my sister, and my parents; and wasn’t one for lying still. Of course – first things first – I would need to go to the toilet for a pee. [Note: the toilet rooms of that era had tiles on the floors and walls, and were great for reflecting sound].
It was very early in the morning, and I wasn’t in that much of a hurry. So, rather than standing I would sit, and gaze at the walls. I recall being fascinated with the light and reflections of the trees (from our back garden) being projected on the walls. I could see the trees bending up and down, some birds flying in and out, the leaves dancing, along with light, up and down the tiles on the walls. I would then start to play with sound, and start to make some noise. Sometimes I would hum one of my internalised melodies; and at times, I would make as many different short, sharp noises with my mouth. Anything to hear sound. I would listen to the sound, and note how the sound could bounce from wall to wall. I learnt to make some sounds stretch out, almost like it had a tail on it, and take even longer to bounce around. I recall thinking how good my voice sounded, in this toilet room. I realise now that I was I was experimenting making noise, listening to the sound bounce off the walls, to the sonic possibilities within our family toilet room, at possibly half past five (5) in the morn. I also reflect now, to realise that I was also possibly becoming comfortable with my voice. Listening to my self, experimenting with my voice, experimenting with what sounds I could make – what original sounds I could make, on my own.
With (apparently) my brothers and sister tired of my early morning vocalisations while on the toilet every morning – while they were still sleeping – my dad suggested I may like to relocate to a new room – into a converted rumpus room on the ground floor of our new house. While I was a little tentative at first, I quickly saw my new space as my own palace. I set up the room with low lighting – lots of lamps around the corners of the room, each with different coloured cellophane projecting up onto the walls. There were usually two or three candles burning, borrowed from my parents many dinner parties, adding to the subdued ambient lighting. Posters of pop culture icons of the day from the local music rag GoSet adorned my walls, beckoning me down a particular path.
(My inherited grandfather’s pianola)
My grandfather’s pianola stood at the foot of my bed; alongside an old radio gramophone that blasted out my collection of 45rpms and am radio station hits for many hours of the day. I recall listening to all of the music and sounds that emanated from that gramophone, drawn into another world. I had friends, but with a very protective mother, I found my self spending a lot of time in my palace – my sanctuary – listening to a very wide range of music at every chance I had.
Whilst I loved the sound of the pianola (essentially a piano, but with some more high register tones present in each of the notes), I found the keyboard layout quite complex to understand. None of my family were players (that I knew of). However, I continued to tinker, I experimented but I admit that I never sat long enough, to learn how to play the piano. Over the next few years, my brother started playing guitar. He was cool, part of the politically savvy crowd. He listened to politically inspired music as part of the hippy movement, calling for change to the establishment. I was drawn in – not so much to the message – but to the instrument that seemed to be at the centre of this crowd – the guitar.
The guitar seemed to be far more simple to play than the piano, with its’ chord shapes. My brother was right-handed, and I was left-handed. So whilst I was drawn in, I did not find it easy to mimic what he was telling me to do, to play his guitar. I was frustrated, but my fascination was established. I would spend my time listening to music, sifting through the music magazines, looking at pictures of guitars. Several years later after much – quiet but persistent – badgering, my dad arrived back from overseas with an acoustic guitar in hand, for me.
I started guitar lessons the following week with a local guitar teacher who was teaching my brother. He taught me the notes on the strings, and then introduced a number of songs as a way of learning to play. One of the first songs I can recall learning was: Clearance Clearwater Revival’s (CCR) “Proud Mary” (Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969).
(Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969 music video)
This song was followed shortly afterwards with CCR’s latest single, “Looking’ Out My Back Door” (Creedence Clearwater Revival 1970a).
(Creedence Clearwater Revival 1970 music video)
The album that these songs came off was Creedence Clearwater Revival 1970’s album, “Cosmo’s Factory” (Creedence Clearwater Revival 1970b). My brother did eventually buy this album, and therefore I not only heard it many times, I ended up playing the album many times over myself.
(Creedence Clearwater Revival 1970c).
This album produced so many singles that became popular hits on the radio; song’s that were country rock in flavour, that were predominantly based around the semi-acoustic electric guitar. I loved every song on the album, and therefore I used to played the album – when my brother wasn’t around – with the purpose of studying each and every song. I recall listening to each song over and over, learning to play them, and to try to emulate the guitar rhythm and vocal phrasing. If I was practicing a particular section of the song – for a example a phrase – I would play it through, and then pick up the needle and play through again, over and over, until I could work out what the phrasing, harmony or melody was. I had also learnt a trick from my cousin in Victoria; putting a coin on the album while it was playing, would slow down the rotating record down, and therefore making it easier to hear the particular phrase I was trying to learn. I experimented for really difficult phrasing, adding the weight of a second coin.
(Creedence Clearwater Revival 2008)
The following year Paul and Linda McCartney released their first studio album “Ram” after the Beatles had officially disbanded as a group (Paul and Linda McCartney. 1971). A single off the album “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” was released and played on AM radio on a regular basis. I recall falling in love with this song instantaneously. The song was 4 minutes 50 seconds long – quite long for the day – and progressed from one style of music, to another style of music. It was as though Paul McCartney had gotten two songs, and joined them together. I recall being fascinated by this arrangement. But most particularly, the production. Listening to the song on the radio I could hear so many elements and textures that I had never heard before in any other song. I was in awe!. I recall saving the money I earnt from doing my weekly chores, and going to the local music store to buy the 45rpm record of the single (Paul and Linda McCartney. 1971).
As it happened, on the B side was another song – more of a traditional pop rock song – but again with an interesting arrangement. This song “Too Many People” (Paul and Linda McCartney. 1971), became the first song I requested my guitar teacher to teach me how to play on the guitar.
(The Beatles Discography, 1971)
(Paul & Linda McCartney 1971 music video)
In the same year that I had bought my first 45rpm, I heard another artist across the airwaves: the songs of Cat Stevens. I was mesmerised by his craft – sultry vocal tones, accompanied minimally, with an acoustic guitar, and sometime a bass line. The vocal had a lot of – mmm, how could I describe it – a lot of space around it – presence. The guitar was very simple – a strummed guitar, and a fingerpicked guitar, recorded very precisely, and cleanly. There was often a bass riff present, and sometimes some percussive elements, in light support of the rhythm and harmony. Often, there was a piano in accompaniment. Occasionally, the central instrument was a piano. Irrespective, what struck me of Cat Stevens’ songs were: the central element of his performances and the productions were – the song.
Cat Stevens was a UK troubadour with a social and spiritual conscience, carrying forth the tradition of the 1960’s confessional singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen. Cat Stevens was soon to be joined by other rising troubadours such as Carol King, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne and Don McLean (Greenwald 1992, 58). The songs of these troubadours took me to places that I hadn’t been before. To places that were quiet, considered and contemplative. I considered these songs poetic, in a similar vein as so many of the great poets before them. Their songs weaved words, turn of phrase – lyrics with melody and harmony in simple but cleverly crafted ways.
As a ten (10) year old, I remember thinking to myself – can I? could I? could I ever be able to learn to do what they do? could I dare to consider that I could learn to do what they do? Could I ever become a singer-songwriter-performer as they are? Could I ever learn how to transport a listener to a place that they hadn’t been to before? As they did to me? As they did for me? Could I possibly? Unfortunately though, irrespective of any logic, the seed was planted. I recall Cat Steven’s influence on my desire to practice music was instantaneous: in terms of guitar playing, singing, songwriting and arranging – to a depth of personal experience that I had never heard before. I saved my pocket money, and a short time later I was holding my first album, Cat Steven’s “Tea for the Tillerman”.
(Cat Stevens 1970a)
(Cat Stevens 1970b)
The many songs that were on “Tea for the Tillerman” became the next group of songs I requested my guitar teacher to teach me how to play on the guitar. I spent much of the next year trying to emulate the guitar playing, singing, and feel of these Cat Steven’s songs.
A year later a follow up album came out “Teaser and the Firecat”. I spent much of that year again trying to emulate the guitar playing, singing, and feel of these Cat Steven’s songs. Whilst I don’t feel I ever arrived at being able to play any of Cat Steven’s songs to my satisfaction, I do trust and believe this particular artist’s influence on my development as a music practitioner was significant. Cat Steven’s style had become engrained into my being; into my soul.
(Cat Stevens 1971)
(Cat Stevens 1970c)
I continued to progress with the guitar, but found that I had been drawn somewhat back to the piano through the songs of performers such as Cat Stevens. A number of his songs on both “Tea for the Tillerman” and “Teaser and the Firecat” featured piano as the central instrument. I wasn’t so interested in learning to play the piano, but would spend hours listening – tinkering and experimenting – to the sounds that emanated from it.
I got a Labrador-cross pup for my eleventh birthday. We looked very similar – in that her coat colouring was similar to my skin complexion – fair with freckles. She and I became inseparable over the next five (5) years. As she grew, she would lay at the foot of my bed with one eye open, almost as if she was making sure I was ok. More often that not, I was occupied with any form of music practice.
I would play guitar – strumming the strings, forming chord shapes – and listen to the sounds that would emanate from the wooden body.
I was intrigued with how much change in tone could occur with subtle change in any aspect of my playing – such as my attack with the plectrum – velocity or speed, or the actual thickness or material of the plectrum;
I would focus on my right hand with the forming of chords, moving the angle of my wrist around the back of the neck. The clarity of the note would change as I did this to produce different qualities of sound;
I would try to sing the songs of my favourite artists, trying to emulate the phrasing of the vocal line, the rhythm and harmony of the music playing on old gramophone;
I would tinker on the piano’s ivories, listening to the notes as they rose out of the wooden cabinet:
I noted how these notes varied, depending on how hard I struck each of the keys;
I noted how these notes varied, depending on which foot pedal on the piano I was holding down;
I listened to the resonance of the notes as they sang out, bouncing off and out of the rosewood wooden cabinet, after the piano key hammer had come to rest on a particular string;
I immersed myself listening to a range of productions via the radio, albums, or 45rpm singles. I was in awe – full of wonder, joy and intrigue – listening to the cacophony of music and sonic textures that played out of the speakers;
With every song, I tried to strum out chords on my acoustic guitar along to it; or
I would mimic a live performance, guitar around my neck, standing behind my father’s camera tripod, mounted with a bicycle horn on top as my pretend microphone, strumming away to songs playing on the radio gramophone.
Yes, I could see my audience, I could hear the audience, I could feel the audience.
These are the earliest recollections I have of my creative activities.
The next step of my creative practice…..
However, at some point, I did work out that I was not born intomusic. My mother didn’t play an instrument, my father didn’t play an instrument – they were fans. Our house was not filled with our music – it was filled with the music of others. We listened to others perform.
A few short years later, a significant event occurred that led me to put down the guitar for about 9-10 years. This event had a profound impact on my confidence and belief in my worthiness to play music.
Some years later at University, after meeting some musical souls, I picked up the guitar again. But this time it was to be an electric guitar. Over the next few years I progressed into writing, singing, performing, arranging, recording, and playing bass. I also taught music, delved into project management and became an industry advisor.
I spent 3 years in Japan, where I fortunate enough to establish a platform across so many of these areas. I am so blessed for my Japan experience. Japan was so influential in my reconnecting and implanting a music practice flame within me that I still carry to this day. It was one of the most productive periods I have had in terms of my performing and writing, including recording and experimenting in production. It was a wonderful period for me – one that I hoped would never end. But like everything in life, at some point there were enough taps on my shoulder that indicated it was time for me to return to Australia.
I arrived back into Australia and evaluated my options. I moved city, up to Brisbane, and made an effort to connect to players in that scene. I chose to refuse to play in the pub scene – blue jean, intoxicated punters, nicotine-filled live scene that contrasted significantly to the clubs and festivals I had played in Japan. Instead, as part of my tithing value to give back to society, I invested what spare time I had to assisting a range of community music programs. What resonated to me here was donating my breadth of experience as a player, teacher, coach & mentor, providing guidance and assistance to social groups that had mostly not had the opportunity of music practice due to lack of opportunity because of either economics, social situation or just the busyness of life.
I have always found ways in my life to generate income streams from a variety of sources . My father always (somewhat condescendingly) referred to my creative industry activities as a hobby. Whilst I have been sponsored by the Australian Government at numerous times in my Creative Industries career, I have been fortunate enough to maintain a professional career to develop my music practice, often overlapping into education, project management, and educational management here in Australia and overseas. After a study period at the Guitar Institute in California’s Musicians Institute in 2006, I returned home to accept an Executive Management role to manage an overseas multi-site educational organisation. Whilst it was going to disrupt my local live playing, it was an opportunity to lead what had previously been a multi-million dollar organisation (now facing closure due to non-compliance and financial adversity) in all aspects of governance and general management (including , stakeholder negotiation, change management, educational teaching practice, staff development and management). Whilst I played a few live gigs during that 3 year overseas posting, I focussed on alternative mediums to be creative musically. This opened the opportunity for the development of my music production skills within the virtual world of a DAW – both in Pro Tools and Logic Pro.
Somewhat ironic, this juncture in my music practice is at the core of my current doctoral studies: Contemporary DIY music practice and the practitioner self.
This blog series is planned to continue with Life is About the Moment. It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Australian Boxing Kangaroo Flag Image courtesy of: Boxing Kangaroo Accessed 8th March, 2014.