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Sensational Diaries, Creative Confessionals or Synthetic Exegeses? How 'Academic' Composers and Performers tell their Stories

Pace, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-0047-9379 (2019). Sensational Diaries, Creative Confessionals or Synthetic Exegeses? How 'Academic' Composers and Performers tell their Stories. Paper presented at the Royal Musical Association 2019 Conference, 12 Sep 2019, Manchester UK.


In the UK higher-education sector, composers and fine artists traditionally enjoyed a respected and relatively uncontested position in many institutions, expected for the most part simply to pursue their own practice. However, following reforms effective from the 1996 Research Assessment Exercise onwards, to allow submissions from other types of artistic practitioners, new criteria were applied to evaluate when practice can be considered as ‘research’. These criteria were also applied to these long-established practitioners. Commentators upon Practice-as-Research such as Robin Nelson have asserted the necessity of a written component, in the form of some type of contextual commentary upon the practice. This has also become a standard requirement for practice-based PhDs (although a few institutions do not require it), and in my view should be considered within the purview of autoethnographic documentation. While sceptical about any assumed primacy of written discourse over other outputs, I consider how and when writing about musical practice, whether self-standing or to be read alongside listening to the practical work, should be considered to achieve parity with other forms of scholarly writing. In particular, I consider critically some now-common approaches – compositional or performance diaries, descriptions of collaborations, poietic exegeses or statements of intention – and argue for the necessity of more incisive forms of analysis and contextualisation.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Royal Musical Association 2019 Conference, University of Manchester/RNCM, 12 September 2019.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts
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