Unprotected Practice: Including Process as Compositional Material

Norman, Paul (2018) Unprotected Practice: Including Process as Compositional Material. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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3.6_PhD Commentary_Text Composition (Corrected - 121217).pdf

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2.1.1.1_Definition Songs_Full Score .pdf

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Abstract

Composition as an art form often struggles with effectively communicating the initial idea that triggered the creation of the work via performance. The works included in this PhD submission and the reflection of my approach to composition included in this commentary, outline the various ways that I have attempted to address this issue by engaging with the main research question: How can the concept and composition process of the artistic work be communicated to the audience and what creative compositional opportunities does this offer?
This PhD contains 13 works that share an expanded view of composition that considers not only sound but also visual and performative elements, where the whole process from initial idea to the performance forms the artistic work. This suggests a more holistic approach to composition where the audience members are given access to the whole artistic work via the performance.
The works produced are extremely diverse, due to the direct relation of the whole composition process to a concept. By considering how I make decisions and what those decisions communicate, I have found that when all decisions in the composition process are informed by the concept, the concept becomes embodied in the performance and thus communicates the idea that triggered the creation of the work to the audience.
Communicating the idea thus becomes a compositional concern and forms additional material for the work. Composing the communication of the idea and making it inherent in the performance offers huge artistic potential. It need not be restricted by traditional formats, such as programme notes or pre-concert talks, but can be much more playful, directly relevant and integrated within the artistic work.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: To my parents, Roger Gordon Norman and Sheila Norman, for their unending support and trust from the earliest age, from taking me to my first keyboard and guitar lesson to their open engagement with performative works that often challenge their own perceptions of what constitutes music and art. Their warmth and willingness to engage and never be afraid to ask questions and allow me the space to share my ideas with them has been more than I could ever ask for. To my wife Mira, who is my best friend, my first and most important mentor, expert dramaturge, fierce critic and artist in her own right. From my first research proposal to this PhD submission, she has been unwaveringly supportive, critical, constructive and positive. To my Director of Studies, Michael Wolters, who throughout this PhD has become a good friend, my severest critic, my councillor, artistic collaborator and mentor. Together we have celebrated my biggest successes and investigated and moved on from my most emotionally damaging failures. Without his support I couldn't have made it through the first tough year where I would surely have come to the conclusion that PhD study was not for me. His support has not only helped me to completion, but to the sensation that I deserve my place in academia, that I have something to offer and that my own expertise is grounded in terms that are unique to me and no more or less valuable than that of any student of any subject. His dedication to his students and to Birmingham Conservatoire is a source of constant inspiration and I only hope that in the future I will be as strong a force for good with my own students. I would also like to thank my Second Supervisor, Howard Skempton, for his careful thought and critique of my artistic work, and for his personal and engaging stories that have provided such a rich context to this PhD study. To my Academic Supervisor, Ron Woodley, for his strong criticism and for pushing me to carve my place in academia, learning to develop a language by which I can express my ideas in the format of academic writing and to defend my work to panels of experts. 6 Cutler and Johnson, p. 1. 6 Commentary 8 In addition I would like to mention Chris Dingle, for his tireless support for practice-based researchers to be represented within the university. I would like to give an extra thank you to dramaturge Marcus Dross. His support for my work over the last three years has been exceptionally warming, from the moment of helping me with my first research proposal to using his free time to be dramaturge on my work Pointing at Things: It started when you read this. I am very grateful for all the exceptionally useful talks we have had. On so many occasions he has found the words to give me the confidence and ability to persevere with an idea, and to trust that the right decisions will be made when I need them to be. I would like to give a special mention to my colleague and friend Andy Ingamells. We have been through this PhD journey together and we have both complained, worried and celebrated together throughout. It truly wouldn't have been the same without him. To all my collaborators and performers, for all the challenges that we were forced to overcome. For good or bad, they have progressed my thinking in a way I couldn't have done alone. Lastly I would like to thank all my friends who are spread all over the world. Their supportive words over the last three years have kept me going.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Composition; Concept; Process; Interdisciplinary; Performance
Subjects: W300 Music
Divisions: REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2019 17:12
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 17:08
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/7083

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