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Title: Decomposition theory : a practice-based study of popular music composition strategies
Author: Wolinski, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0005 0287 3662
Awarding Body: University of Huddersfield
Current Institution: University of Huddersfield
Date of Award: 2019
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Bands as social and cultural forces primarily release albums and go on tour. These well established, popular forms for recording, presenting and performing music seem somewhat antiquated, similar now to how bands acted fifty years ago. This means that bands are not necessarily able to properly embrace new musical potentials that open up as technology evolves. The goal of this study is to establish how new forms of expression and alternative modes of composition can be utilised by bands and solo artists working in the commercial popular music industry. It aims to do this through a practice-based exploration that specifically embraces unique or unconventional approaches to composition in the context of popular music. The algorithmic and interactive strategies for music making that are focussed on in this study have been well covered in the academic literature, as have critical histories surrounding the evolution of popular music over the last century, up to and including its current moment. However, so far nobody has explored how emerging technologies might be applied to popular music forms from the perspective of an active participant working at a professional level in the music industry. This is what makes this study unique and significant. To answer these questions, this study describes a new methodology. Decomposition Theory is a critically aware approach to music-making that sees composition as a dialectical process based around constructing musical and audio-visual systems that have the ability to generate endless musical potentialities. Established forms for popular music, such as songs, albums or live performances, can then be 'decomposed' from these systems. This is demonstrated through a collection of practice-based research at differing scales, from custom algorithmic functions generating individual phrases and rhythms at the micro scale, to large, audio-visual live performances, infinitely-long generative video game soundtracks, and new means of disseminating musical and audio-visual projects digitally at the macro scale. A theoretical grounding for the methodology is included in this accompanying written commentary. This study finds that by bands putting Decomposition Theory into practice - that is by developing a new critical awareness to their own working practice, and viewing composition as a dialectical process rather than measuring it through completed musical productions - they need not be tied to established popular musical forms, but can discover new modes of reflection, composition, and alternative means for disseminating their work.
Supervisor: Till, Rupert ; Cox, Geoffrey ; Herbst, Jan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: M Music ; MT Musical instruction and study