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21st Century Music Practice series of Elements by Cambridge University Press

Posted: May 3rd, 2019 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Announcing the launch of the 21st Century Music Practice series of Elements by Cambridge University Press.

Elements are a new publishing format that CUP are promoting that consists of a 20,000 word text – somewhere in between a standard journal article and a book – and which can also involve extensive multi-media content. The series has developed out of the 21st Century Music Practice Research Network which currently has around 250 members in 30 countries and is dedicated to the study of what Christopher Small termed Musicking – the process of making and sharing music rather than the output itself. Obviously this exists at the intersection of ethnomusicology, performance studies, and practice pedagogy / practice-led-research in composition, performance, recording, production, musical theatre, music for screen and other forms of multi-media musicking. The generic nature of the term ‘21st Century Music Practice’ reflects the aim of the series to bring together all forms of music into a larger discussion of current practice and to provide a platform for research about any musical tradition or style. It embraces everything from hip hop to historically informed performance and K-Pop to Inuk Throat Singing.

The series, like any journal or book series, will be based on an ongoing call for contributions and this email marks the formal start of that process. The main bulk of this email below is comprised of a detailed description of the five themes at the heart of this series: Scripts, Tools, Tacit Knowledge, Contexts and Methodologies. Information for contributors can be found at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/what-we-publish/elements/elements-information-for-authors

The initial starting point for any commission is to send a 2 or 3 page proposal to [email protected] for initial consideration by the series editor and the CUP commissioning editor. You are also welcome to email me on this address to discuss any questions you may have about the series. Before publication, the full manuscript of all submissions will be subject to peer review. Details of copyright conditions and remuneration for both authors and peer reviewers can be found on the CUP website via the above link.

Please submit a proposal under one of the following five themes:

  1. Scripts – looking at the nature of the ‘things’ that get performed. This draws on Nick Cook’s idea of scores as scripts as well as the notion of cognitive scripts as forms of knowledge. It could involve: Compositions and notation; Computer code as a composition; Unwritten ideas and arrangements; Frameworks for improvisation.

Some ideas to explore might be:

Agency and interpretation: how does the design and creation of the scripts for musical activity relate to the notion of artistic freedom and choice? Can examples of choice and constraint help us to explore the notion of artistic freedom.

Creating a script as ownership or as exercising power: was Barthes’ report of the death of the author greatly exaggerated? For example, using examples from the rehearsal of new works to explore the creative contribution of performers.

What do the rules of music from different styles and traditions have in common? This could involve both comparisons and examples of fusion forms.

The invisible hand: how transparent should the script be? What difference does it make to be able to understand the rules being followed (or broken) when listening to music making? As above, this could involve both comparisons and examples of fusion forms

Scripts as narratives: can we understand music as a journey and, if so, what kind of relationship does it have with space and time? This could be particularly open to demonstrations of metaphorical mechanisms by practitioners.

  1. Tools – what technologies do musicians use to make music and how do they influence practice? Or how does the development of musical tools get influenced by practice and practitioners? It could involve: Instruments and techniques; Synthesis and sampling; Sound reinforcement and acoustics; Recording; Audio processing.

Some ideas to explore might be:

Social construction of technology: how and why have particular tools and technologies emerged and become important? The process of historical reconstruction can be used to expose the particular affordances of technologies in context and the tacit knowledge that they generate.

How do tools and technologies get chosen in a given situation? Once again, this would be particularly open to the creation of structured demonstrations by practitioners.

How tools influence practice: are there particular tools or technologies that reflect or even influence a particular zeitgeist? (As above)

Tools and technologies as metaphors: what do the ways in which we engage in musical practice say about the way we think about the world? Examples of the metaphors in practice would form a key part of the narrative.

Spaces as tools: where is the boundary between the idea of the space where an activity occurs as being its context and as it being a tool or technology that can be manipulated as part of the activity? Performers, composers and recordists could demonstrate site specific activities.

  1. Tacit Knowledge – what does a practitioner need to know and internalise? There is obviously some overlap here with the first theme but this theme is more about general rules and conventions about practice rather than specific pieces of music. It could involve: Traditions and cultures; Forms of expression; Technical knowledge and understanding; Learning and pedagogy

Some ideas to explore might be:

Doing as knowing: are all forms of knowledge ultimately based on knowing how to do something rather than being object oriented? Practical explorations of knowledge creation would help to shed light on this discussion.

Types of creative processes: can we distinguish between forms of creativity based on the metaphor of compounds and mixtures in chemistry? Contributors could demonstrate one type being about creating something distinctively new from existing materials and the other being about putting things together in novel ways without changing their nature.

Performing as persona: is the notion of identity based on activity? Should performance studies be based on Goffman’s dramaturgical approach? Case studies could be deconstructed to isolate moments that illuminate particular ideas.

Understanding and collaboration: how much is our desire and ability to work in communities related to the cognitive mechanisms of recognizing sameness and feelings of empathy? Performance research opens up a new potential point of nexus with psychology / sociology through creating multimedia documentation of experiments and demonstrations based around single case studies rather than larger samples.

Learning environments and cultures: what are the mechanisms for acquiring tacit knowledge and understanding how it can be applied in a range of different contexts? Multimedia documentation of experiments and demonstrations of pedagogical practice should be an important element in the series.

  1. Contexts – where and when do musical practices take place and how do these contexts influence practice? And, likewise, how have practice and practitioners influenced the development of the contexts in which they take place? It could involve: Concert settings; Recordings; Performance multi-media (musical theatre, theatre, circus etc); Recorded multi-media (music for film, games etc); Educational establishments; Business constraints

Some ideas to explore might be:

Special-ness: if singing involves saying something in a ‘special voice’, should all musical activity be explored from the perspective of placing some social activity in a special context? Husserl / Tagg’s methodology of hypothetical substitution of certain features to explore their influence on interpretation could become a process of ‘real’ substitution in multimedia examples.

The influence of practitioners on context or place: should we explore context not as a place or situation where something occurs but as a socially constructed consequence of musical activity? Once again, the process of systematic and structured substitution in multimedia examples provides a relevant methodology here.

Media as cartoons: if all media represent activity in a reduced or schematic fashion, how do those simplifications and exaggerations create a new context for that activity? (As above)

Distance and liveness: is our sense of liveness not so much to do with co-presence in time and space as to do with a more metaphorical sense of distance and proximity? The exploration of liveness through recording provides many fascinating opportunities.

The influence of context on practice: does the same activity mean something different in two different contexts or does the simple act of doing something in a different context change the nature of the activity itself?

Rightness and wrongness: if our understanding of musical texts can be explored in terms of fulfilling or frustrating our expectations, can we explore musical contexts in the same manner? This, as with many of the themes, provides opportunities for using the techniques of aural and visual manipulation of subject-position to demonstrate their influence on perception and interpretation.

  1. Methodologies – how should we be studying musical practice? It could involve: Ethnography and autoethnography; Psychology of musical practice and creativity; Practice As Research; Sociology / Actor Network Theory

Some ideas to explore might be:

Creativity: does the move towards systems and networks as the metaphorical mechanisms for analyzing creativity mean that we have lost anything in our efforts to understand it? Annotated and narrated demonstrations of practice-as-research would be relevant here.

Communication and collaborations: are static forms of representation the best ways to understand the dynamic processes of human interaction? This could involve demonstrations of dynamic / animated representational systems as forms of data analysis.

Ecology and physical constraints: what are the ways in which we can understand how our environment constrains us from and encourages us into particular forms of activity? Obviously, multimedia content of the various forms outlined above could be used to explore this.

Networks, connections and influence: how does one person’s action affect another’s intention? And more complexly, how do multiple people’s activity affect others’ intentions? Experimentation that records multiple perspectives and levels of detail of an activity can also be used in a richer, more nuanced version of stimulated recall to interrogate subjective phenomena such as intentions.

The study of change: how should we represent time in a description or an analysis of activity? How do we make decisions about sameness and difference? Once again, techniques such as feature substitution/variation in repeated experiments or animated representational systems are useful here.

How useful would it be to explore alternative notions of data, research questions, literature, reflections, analysis and logic in relation to the study of musical practice? One of the key contributions of this series could be the development and refinement of multimedia forms of research output that can be assessed with parity against ‘traditional’ text-based forms.

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