The Purpose of the Written Element in Composition PhDs

Scheuregger, Martin and Leedham, Christopher (2020) The Purpose of the Written Element in Composition PhDs. In: Researching and Writing on Contemporary Art and Artists. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 65-90. ISBN 9783030392321

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The Purpose of the Written Element in Composition PhDs
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This chapter addresses the variety of approaches taken in the written element of the modern PhD in composition in the UK. The background to this is established through reference to two distinct but related strands of argument: whether composition is research, and what role (if any) the written word should have for composers working in academia. This background is established through an overview of current practices, before discourse around the veracity of composition as research is explored. The intertwined histories of these debates form a context for understanding the variety of approaches to the written element of composition PhDs. A survey of those who have completed or are undertaking a PhD in composition in the UK provides qualitative and quantitative data. 102 survey responses are analysed and presented, as issues of methodology are highlighted in the context of established practice research (P-R) literature, primarily informed by other arts disciplines. The authors codify the array of approaches exposed by the survey respondents, proposing a model in which the emphasis may be on one of three areas—technical commentary, conceptual/aesthetic framework and reflexive account—or balanced between two or more of them. The relationship between this model and extant P-R methodologies is highlighted as the authors explore the varied approaches reflected in the survey responses. The authors conclude by reflecting on the two possible purposes of doctoral composition programmes: as training in or research through composition. The need for methodologies of composition research to be documented more thoroughly is highlighted alongside issues with the delivery of doctoral composition programmes, as the authors acknowledge the progress that has already been made in other P-R disciplines.

Keywords:composition, Practice Research, practice-as-research, practice-led research, practice-based research, Practice-based doctorates, artistic research, Higher Education
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:42878
Deposited On:09 Nov 2020 16:41

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