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Title: Observing and Theorising the Learning of Songwriting through Autoethnography
Authors: Whiting, Christopher James
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis contributes to the growing body of work on popular music songwriting pedagogy by developing a theory of songwriting praxis, from the position of practitioner-as-researcher. The literature review draws primarily from scholarly material on creativity, and on popular music, which are discussed from within their respective domains to explore the scope of our current understanding of songwriting. I apply these works through the following thematic lenses: • Authorship • Imagined Audience • Style • Valuing in Songwriting The methodology proposes a Merleau-Pontian phenomenological ontology of songwriting as a lived experience. This process is then developed through autoethnographic and reflective practice applied across a data collection, observation, and interview participant selection. The five core chapters discuss the observation and theorisation, through the four lenses outlined above. In ‘Observations,’ autoethnographic reflections are presented as a naturally occurring narrative of developing a songwriting style. In the proceeding four chapters, these observations are then theorised in the context of the literature and triangulated with interviews from other songwriting practitioners. The theorising chapters are as follows: ‘Models of Authorship in Songwriting’, in which a model is constructed to depict the flow of authorship; ‘Identifying the Imagined Audience’, which describes how songs are written with an audience in mind using the songwriter’s ‘structuring knowledge’ – knowledge acquired from immersion in the domain, elsewhere referred to as Domain Acquired Knowledge; ‘Style and Voice’, balances the previous structuring knowledge with the songwriter’s creative agency; lastly, ‘Valuing in Songwriting’ focuses on how the previous concepts are applied in the context of the songwriter’s intentions. In the conclusion, the theories are contextualised within a systems model. The outcome is a critical lens through which to observe and theorise how songwriting is learned rather than an epistemology of how to write songs. It is hoped that this approach will contribute to the pedagogy of songwriting.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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