The composer's place in academia

Scheuregger, Martin and Leedham, Christopher (2018) The composer's place in academia. In: Autoethnography, Self-Reflexivity, and Personal Experience as Academic Research in Music Studies, 16–17 April 2018, Institute for Musical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper draws on an ongoing research project investigating the place of the composer within academia, focussing on the PhD by composition pathway common to many UK higher education institutions. Composer-practitioner Christopher Leedham and composer-analyst Martin Scheuregger will present an overview of the written requirements of composition PhDs in the UK - the de facto 'apprenticeship' for many aspiring composers - and suggest that the 'scholarisation' of composition presents a number of challenges to the legitimacy of composition as an academic discipline.

The requirement for PhD composers to write about their own work may have created unhelpful aesthetic expectations - whether institutionally specific or more widely - and even fetishised quantifiable compositional procedures. Composers may feel the need to explain their musical decisions too objectively and in doing so create teleological justifications that tacitly assert idealised notions of genius. The authors will discuss these issues and reflect on the limitations of the current PhD system, suggesting ways it could be made to reflect more truthfully the messy, unplanned realities of working as a composer. The current UK research climate - as reflected by governmental and institutional obsessions with REF - will provide a context for wider reflections on the place of, and future for, composition in academia.

Keywords:Music, Composition, Autoethnography, Artists, Writing
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:35178
Deposited On:04 Mar 2019 07:30

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