Conceptualising choral play: the creative experience of aleatory choral music

Galbreath, Daniel Johnston (2019) Conceptualising choral play: the creative experience of aleatory choral music. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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This doctoral thesis aims to answer the question: How do performers undertake and experience choral aleatorism, and how might these processes suggest an emergent practice that can inform the efforts of singers, conductors, and composers? While the choral ensemble has historically been regarded as expressively unanimous (Hillier 2012), aleatorism problematises this notion through a postmodern ‘dismantling’ of a unified voice (Connor 2014). The etymology of ‘aleatory’ encapsulates both play and players; this project investigates inductively the creative contributions of singers as ‘players’ in the dismantled, fractured texture of aleatorism. After setting out the philosophical parameters and catalysts for this line of practical examination (Introduction), choral aleatory practice is contextualised according to a performercentric view of indeterminacy and improvisation, drawing on the field of performance studies to argue for the need to interrogate the actions and decisions of those performers (Chapter 2). Complexity Thinking (Davis and Sumara 2006) and embodiment theory (Sheets-Johnstone 2009) are discussed as concepts that usefully frame and contribute to the findings of this interrogation (Chapter 3). A two-pronged methodology is employed (Chapter 4) in order to gather qualitative, narrative data from singers involved in two iterative case studies and from analyses of the performed outcomes of select aleatory performances. This methodology enables a conceptualisation of singers’ experiences of performing works by new and established composers via Grounded Theory Method analysis (Charmaz 2014); meanwhile, analyses of recorded performances offer a critically distanced view of musical outcomes. Findings of these two case studies (Chapters 5 and 6) are discussed and brought into circumscribed dialogue with the concepts of Complexity Theory and embodiment. Performance analyses (Chapter 7) develop and inflect the results of these findings by examining the outcomes of aleatory techniques and singers’ improvisatory decisions. This multi-methodological enquiry reveals how singers actively formulate aleatory processes, governed by a complex system of individually and socially constructed influences, the creation of which has a significant embodied dimension. The thesis concludes (Chapter 8) by showing how this music provides a site of shared creativity that may be expanded upon in future practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
24 January 2019Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Choral, Aleatory, Complexity, Embodiment, Performance
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-05 - others in creative arts and design
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Doris Riou
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2020 12:02
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:20

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