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Autoethnography as Critically Engaged Practice: Methodological Concerns and Case Studies relating to Notation, Genre, and Aesthetic

Pace, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-0047-9379 (2021). Autoethnography as Critically Engaged Practice: Methodological Concerns and Case Studies relating to Notation, Genre, and Aesthetic. presented at the Music Diaries Conference, 7 Jul 2021, Thessaloniki, Greece.


In this paper, I will outline my own definitions and understandings of autoethnography for musicians, involving above all an eschewal of method, in the sense of any prescribed strategy (though without precluding the flexible adoption of techniques which have an existing provenance), as a defining factor, in favour of this being a critical attitude taken by artistic researchers towards their own practice and those of others. I present this in the context of a somewhat sceptical attitude towards some varieties of ethnography in general, mentioning briefly some of its limitations and some of the more exalted claims made by its proponents. Included within this is a brief consideration of the conflicting claims placed upon artistic researchers who also compete within cultural economies external to academia.

In the second half of the paper, I relate these perspectives to case studies from my own work, with demonstrations at the piano, including of music of Debussy, Ives, Feldman and Finnissy. I elaborate on a model of musical notation (first set out in a 2009 article published in the Orpheus Institute collection Unfolding Time) and the role of the score (in distinction to the work-concept) as negation of habit and stimulus for interpretation as creative practice. I also consider briefly the role of musical genre for performers of contemporary music, as an unavoidable component of performing and listening, and discuss how one might navigate both generic context and the mediating actions of individual composers between such a context and the score encountered by the performer, drawing upon a forthcoming article on Finnissy. Finally, I draw these concerns together to draw some conclusions about the often quite fundamentally aesthetic nature of artistic research questions.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music
[thumbnail of Autoethnography as Critically Engaged Practice - Paper for Music Diaries, July 2021.pdf]
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[thumbnail of Music Diaries Presentation 070721.pdf]
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