Different performance modes: live performing and recording contemporary classical Australian chamber music

Diana Blom, Western Sydney University and Dawn Bennett, Curtin University

Notions of authenticity are often raised when taking a piece of music into the recording studio, and yet performers encounter two distinct performance modes and two distinct experiences in the performance environment and the recording studio. This presentation discusses the authors’ experience of performing and then recording two newly composed Australian works for viola and piano[1]. To do this we draw on a practice-led reflective documentation and dialogue approach to compare and discuss the two performance modes. We found that while we wanted both performance modes to capture the feeling and essence of each piece, we entered the live performance arena with a whole-of-work conceptual frame. In the recording studio, however, after discussion between ourselves and the sound engineer, we entered with an understanding of being in separate recording booths, of sections and sub-sections carefully marked off in the score, and of a series of approaches to handle difficult parts of the score which needed more accuracy and speed than a live performance could reliably offer. In taking this approach, and as an integral part of both the performance and recording experience, we retained control of both performance modes. This experience was very different from that reported by orchestral musicians[2], who expressed concern about the expectation of perfection created by editing of recordings, and subsequent audience expectations of perfection in live performance. Glenn Gould[3] has suggested that the recording session requires a separate aesthetic, and we agree, finding that each mode demands of performers a different approach and a different attitude, one of which features a strong visual component (and distraction from the listening), the other with no visual component resulting in a heightened and focused (undistracted) listening environment.

Contact author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[1]Blom, D. (2013) Into the Sun (viola and piano), Wirripang Pty. Ltd. ; Encarnacao, J. (2013) Tarantula Variations unpublished

[2] Blier-Carruthers, A. (2013) ‘The performer’s place in the process and product of recording’, CMPCP Performance Studies Network International Conference, University of Cambridge, 2013

[3] Gould, G. (1987) in Page, T. (ed) The Glenn Gould Reader, London: Faber and Faber.

Artistic Practice as Music Research: Towards a Generative Theory of Musical Meaning and Expression

Dillon Parmer (University of Ottowa)

This paper develops a new theory of musical meaning. Conventional hermeneutic practice attributes meaning to music, either by teasing suggestive metaphors out of analytic descriptions of musical structure, or by reading them from textual adjuncts, or the circumstances of composition or reception, into such structure. Both approaches delimit meaning to transactions between composers and listeners (Taruskin2005) whilst relegating performance to the presentation of structural relationships (Schenker2000). Such outcomes are exacerbated by how cultural theory reduces musicians into “studied” objects (Cook2012). To counter these tendencies, I adopt a methodological perspective that reflects critically from actual music making (LeGuin2006). This methodology—what might be called Artistic Practice as Research or Research Creation—allows for theories latent in contexts of real-world artistic production to become explicit. In operatic practice, such reflection reveals a non-textual component, identical with neither score nor libretto, to be in play. This component—what I term infrastructural urtext—consists of the lived-through intentions motivating music, word, and gesture in the performing moment. Generalizing outwards, I argue that it is this infrastructural urtext—and not the proverbial close, hermeneutic reading—that infuses music with expressive content: musical works become meaningful when performed as outcomes of its enactment. Two cases drawn from Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte will illustrate. The cases not only suggest that theories derived from reflective practice more accurately model the processes by which music acquires communicative content in actuality. They also point to a putative mechanism through which a musical work, both vocal and instrumental, generates multiple and divergent meanings.

Cook, Nicolas. 2012. “Music as Performance.” In The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction. 2nd edition. Edited by Martin Clayton, Trevor Herbert, and Richard Middleton. New York: Routledge.

Le Guin, Elisabeth. 2006. Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schenker, Heinrich. 2000. The Art of Performance. Edited by Heribert Esser. Translated by Irene Schreier Scott. New York: Oxford University Press.

Taruskin, Richard. 2005. The Oxford History of Western Music. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Fickleness of Fidelity

Andrew Hallifax


Recent transformations in the ways we listen to recorded music suggest that we are perhaps moving into a post - high-fidelity era where the audiophile's prized hi-fi separates and ostentatious floor-standing loudspeakers have been superseded by handy pocketable devices and ear buds. But this transformation is only the latest shift in a century-long evolution of audio hardware that has cajoled and deluded us into believing, at each stage, that we have all but attained our ostensible ideal; perfect sound reproduction. Simple dereliction of the term high-fidelity and all it implies does nothing to discredit this claim. On the contrary, more likely it indicates that fidelity or sonic realism is no longer a goal for which we need strive.

In charting the development of hi-fi sound this paper seeks to illustrate the manner in which our powerlessness to resist the thrall of technology has led, not so much to the audio perfection we tend to presume, but to our seduction by particular stylisations to which changing technologies give rise.


Creative Practice as Research: ‘Testing Out’ the Systems Model of Creativity through Practitioner Based Enquiry.

Phillip McIntyre

School of Design, Communication and Information Technology

University of Newcastle, Australia


The question: ‘how are messages created?’ is only one of a number that have motivated research into communication (see Fiske 1994, Schirato & Yell 1996, Carey 1989, Cobley 1996, McQuail 1994, Mattelart 1998, Griffin 2000). It is, nonetheless, a fundamental one (Berger 1995). Using this question as a general focus, this paper will attempt to argue that without an insider/practitioner perspective on creative activity being added to the stock of knowledge available to all then that accumulated knowledge cannot be considered to be complete. Furthermore, to begin putting a framework together to allow this task to occur one should firstly be aware that academic research needs to be undertaken systematically. If it truly seeks to remedy the ignorance that exists about something and wants to have this knowledge available in a form that allows it to be readily disseminated, it needs to be exposed and tested, (DEST, 2001 & 2005). It is only then, as the arguments are presented (Popper 1959, Kuhn 1970, Feyerabend 1975, Chalmers 1982 & 1999), that it can be tested and argued and valid attempts made at explaining the truth of the matter being researched.