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Beyond an acoustical understanding of the impact of environment on musical performance.

Armstrong, James E. (2020) Beyond an acoustical understanding of the impact of environment on musical performance. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

J E ARMSTRONG - PhD Thesis.pdf - Version of Record
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This thesis presents an investigation towards the impact of environment on a musical performance. Drawing from the fields of music performance studies and environmental psychology, this research develops an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how a musical performance is experienced by the performer in different locations. Building on studies towards the effects of acoustical characteristics on musical playing, this research includes real-world environments within the performance research where existing studies have often relied upon simulated acoustical environments. Although some research has acknowledged the psychological influences of environment affecting a performance that cannot be replicated through acoustic simulation, a dedicated study is yet to have been conducted. Adapting theories and methods of environmental psychology, the emotional and psychological influences attached to surrounding environments that are affective in shaping a musical performance are investigated. These include: behaviour settings and socio-normative expectation, cultural significance, and attachment through personal meaning. Theories of interaction are also introduced, demonstrating the intricate person-environment relationship that can occur between a musician and their surroundings. In order to investigate the holistic impact of environment on a musical performance, an experimental test method has been designed to further related studies. Practical testing consists of three main performance and recording stages, titled the ‘Three-Stage Method’. Stage 1 invites eight participating musicians to play three short excerpts of instrumental music of their choosing in a real-world environment. Stage 2 requires repeat performances in a recording studio environment with an acoustic simulation of the previous environment responding in real-time. Stage 3 repeats the performances a third and final time in an unmediated recording studio setting. This method meets the request for real-world environments to be included in music performance research. Comparative analysis suggests that musicians do not necessarily play the same in a real-world environment as they do in an accurate simulation of the same location. Following practical testing, participants complete a post-experiment interview about their experiences throughout the entirety of the experiment. Interviews were semi-structured, allowing the interviewee to expand freely upon the questions asked. The interviews aim to achieve qualitative data regarding the individualistic experiences of each musician involved in the experiment in response to the surrounding environment, revealing aspects of personal meaning and significance otherwise unavailable. This research attends to gaps in both fields of music performance studies and environmental psychology; the need to include real-world environments in addition to acoustic simulations in performance-based experiments, and also to draw attention the importance of sound and acoustics in environmental perception that is relevant beyond music performance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Armstrong, James E.
Date : 31 January 2020
Funders : Self-funded
DOI : 10.15126/thesis.00853306
Contributors :
Depositing User : James Edward Armstrong
Date Deposited : 07 Feb 2020 12:47
Last Modified : 07 Feb 2020 12:48

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