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Innovation within Tradition: a Case Study of Composer and Performer Creativity

Armstrong, T (2012) Innovation within Tradition: a Case Study of Composer and Performer Creativity In: Third International Symposium on Music and Sonic Art: Practices and Theories (MuSA) 2012, 2012-07-07 - 2012-07-08, Karlsruhe, Germany. (Unpublished)

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Although heavily critiqued in scholarly literature for at least the last thirty years, and despite a growing interest in practice and research into collaborative approaches to composition, the (Western art music) notion of a hierarchical distinction between the creative composer and the interpretative performer can still exert a powerful influence on contemporary practice. This paper traces such an influence at work in the creative process behind the composition of Capriccio (2008) for solo piano and the development of strategies in subsequent works by the composer that resist certain aspects of an otherwise traditional aesthetic. Written by the composer, the paper employs a methodology of reflective practice drawing on sketch material, journal entries and records of conversations with the work’s dedicatee, Emilie Capulet. Writings on collaboration, creative process and composer/performer relationships, in particular by John-Steiner, Pritchett and Frisk and Österjö, underpin the author’s observations and conclusions. Collaboration is a central theme of the paper: mutual appropriation (John-Steiner’s description of the way collaboration enlarges human capabilities through a process of sharing and exchange) provided the initial springboard for important changes in compositional practice and these have had as their goal a loosening of the composer’s autonomous approach to authorship. Notation emerges as the second major theme: Capulet’s interpretation of the composer’s notation was the locus of their initial discussions and the subsequent changes to the composer’s practice have mostly been focussed in this area. Notation is arguably the strongest anchor to tradition in the composer’s output to date and its modification in later works can, it will be argued, have far-reaching aesthetic implications. The paper attempts to show how innovation can reconstitute and revivify a traditional creative practice, in particular through opening a space for collaboration. This is a more subtle approach than advocated by some creativity theorists but, nevertheless, a valuable one. With compositional practice as its focus, drawing on theories of collaboration, investigating the role of the performer and the status of the score, this paper includes elements of two of the three symposium themes.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Arts > Music
Authors :
Date : 2012
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 04 Feb 2014 14:04
Last Modified : 09 Jun 2014 13:56

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