The study of creative processes as a method for composing—
This ongoing research aims to explore the ways in which the study of another composer’s creative process can inform and stimulate one’s own creative process. In order to answer this question, I will compose pieces based on my study of the creative processes of five distinct composers, and then produce a report relating the processes.
Due to its nature, this research draws from theories and models that involve both the study of the creative process a posteriori and in real-time. Thus, the working documents of the selected pieces are approached by: 1) understanding the chains of operations that unveil the singular musical logic of the creative process (Donin); 2) investigating the network of relations behind the compositional operations (Sallis); 3) accounting for the sonic reality of the documents, therefore producing audio files of excerpts whenever necessary (Chaves). Other considerations emerge with regard to my own creative process and its study in real-time: 1) the tacit knowledge of thought processes (be them audial, visual, verbal), that normally do not appear on manuscripts (Pohjannoro); 2) the influence of extra-musical elements which also may not appear on manuscripts (Katz); 3) the methods for data collection both via verbal protocols and through “save as” files in order to investigate the creative problem-solving and moments of insight (Collins). Finally, the double role of researcher-composer is supported by other studies that follow the same or similar endeavour (Leroux; Reynolds; Roels).
The idiosyncratic approach to music composition of the 20t h and 21s t century justifies a closer examination of individual works rather than forcing a general theory on how composers wrote/write their music. Considering the ever-growing research on the creative process in music, an inevitable question arises: how can composers benefit from this? This research proposes that composers take a didactical (also dialogical) approach to the study of creative processes. In this regard, the developed theories and models can also function as tools for composers to better develop and understand their own compositional activities.
The Richard Johnston Canadian Music Archive Collection at the University of Calgary holds a large number of materials by Canadian composers and serves as a valuable source for this research. Complementary materials will be added through personal contact whenever necessary. As a first stage, five pieces are selected based on the completeness of its working documents and, if possible, access to recordings of the published versions. The next stage is divided into three parts: 1) the study of a composer’s creative process; 2) the composition of a new piece based on the findings of the previous study; 3) the self-analytical report relating and discussing both creative processes. This cycle repeats for each piece.
The current results suggest that studying another composer’s creative process may facilitate one’s own creative process by: observing problem-solving situations; reducing self-criticism and the sense of isolation (often establishing an impression of a dialogical relation); experiencing another composer’s universe of possibilities through the evidence of her or his thought process (especially when compared with one’s own creative process).
University of Calgary, Canada
He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Music Composition at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul — UFRGS) under supervision of Dr. Celso Loureiro Chaves. In Brazil he participated as organizer, artistic director, and composer for the contempo- rary music group Música de PoA. He also participated in the organization of the IX ENCUn (Encontro Nacional de Compositores Universitários — National Encounter of University Composers) in Porto Alegre, 2010. He has composed mostly acoustic music for concert performance, and soundtracks for theatre. In 2016 he began his Ph.D. in Music Composition at the University of Calgary, under supervision of Dr. Laurie Radford. He is now a Ph.D. Candidate and is currently working on his research entitled “Back and Forth: five pieces for various instrumentation involving the study of creative processes as a method for composing”.