Friday, July 25, 2014

Day 18 - Research lifecycles

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Actually I don't believe that.
Actually I do, sort of. In that by the time that you've listened to the story, the way that you remember it, irrespective of how it has been told, is as having a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think it's how our brains are wired up, or how we are culturally programmed to remember our experiences of the world.

So, every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Every research project similarly has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
You may feel like you didn't know that the beginning was truly the beginning until you were in the middle of the middle (or the middle of the end), but in retrospect, you can begin to diagnose what happened.

Something that I have noticed happen within my own practice a lot as a creative researcher, is that I tend to view my compositional activities as a block - I am composing, and it doesn't matter what I am composing - rather than as individual projects. This is something which I am beginning to recognise could change, and could change things within what I do for the better.

Just as I have a sort of plan in my head for how my articles and my book proposal pan out over the next few years, I am beginning to scramble together ideas for my compositional projects. So rather than just thinking about writing, I'm thinking about the entire life-cycle of the process. This includes the conception of the piece and the initial research to develop a methodology, contacting performers who may be interested in playing it, or in collaborating, carrying out the methodology, and then editing the notation, and producing a final score (if applicable). Of course, then the interesting stuff begins as you can incorporate the performance into your research process, especially if the performer(s) is/are going to do it more than once. Is the 'new knowledge' that you have 'effectively shared' through the medium of a score artefact and a live performance artefact appropriate for another medium, for example an article?

In this way, I am hoping to transform my experience of plugging away at composition, enlivened by the occasional performance, into something a bit more dynamic. It may sound a little corporate, but I think that it is what I need (and connects to what I was talking about yesterday). I'm also slightly interested in looking at this from the angle of the Research Development Framework which my institution has adopted. I'd be very interested to see any comments from anyone who has experience of this framework.

Every story has a beginning, a middle, or an end, but a story is always a tracing, not a map. It doesn't describe the larger narrative of your compositional/musicological/performative trajectory, with its many interpenetrating variables, but it's a useful way of organising what you do in a way that can fit into a workload allocation, and in a way that is in a language that any academic should be able to recognise, no matter what their discipline.

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