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Title: Creative performer agency in the collaborative compositional process
Author: Buckley, Morgan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 5116
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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The early-twentieth-century culture in western art music of idolizing the composer as the autonomous creative genius has been challenged by recent developments across musicology and creativity research literature. The composer’s music is now regarded as the product of a collaborative network, influenced by all who come into contact with it—first and foremost the performer. Yet, the nature of the performer’s creative impact on the compositional process remains under-explored. This thesis is centred on a qualitative artistic research project, designed to identify and critically evaluate the prospective extent and scope of creative performer agency; it aims to ascertain how a typical lack of familiarity with the instrument may affect the composer’s creative practice, and to reveal key factors that shape the nature and the consequences of composer-performer interaction and collaboration. It proceeds by commissioning new works for guitar from a range of composers for different performers, and by documenting and analysing the processes of collaboration that result. This research agenda challenges the perception of distinct creative roles that remains resilient in present-day cultural understandings and discourse. The findings are intended to broaden understanding of contemporary collaborative practices in the compositional process for the guitar and generalize to the guitar repertoire of the long twentieth century, during which the majority of substantial works were composed in collaboration. The thesis also contributes to a developing and generalizable framework of practice-led research literature that analyses music-making by recognizing the multiple loci and their interactions that underpin all aspects of the creative processes. Chapter 1 discusses the establishment of the creative hegemony of the composer and its opposing currents across disciplines from the late romantic period to the late twentieth century. Chapter 2 comprises an indicative chronology of select collaborations in the long twentieth-century guitar repertoire and an overview of relevant practice-led research projects in performance studies. Ethnographic methodologies are reviewed in Chapter 3 and the fieldwork commissions are analysed in Chapters 4 and 5. Finally, Chapter 6 comprises an evaluation of the performer’s creative agency and its significance when placed in broader frameworks of contemporary guitar practices, contemporary composition across instrumentations, generalizing to historical guitar collaboration and its implications for creativity research.
Supervisor: Cross, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Music ; Creativity ; Collaboration ; Contemporary Music ; Performer Creativity ; Composition ; contemporary ; Performance Studies ; Creativity Research ; Commission ; Morgan Buckley ; Edwin Roxburgh ; David Knotts ; Gary Ryan ; Craig Ogden ; Kate Honey ; Eoin Flood ; Grainne Mulvey ; Stephen Goss ; Richard Causton ; Ian Cross