Paul Draper

         Toward a personal understanding of 'artistic research'

                     through musical improvisation, performance,

and the production of sound recordings


The above image depicts a ‘home recording studio’ not uncommon for many musicians around the world now, and where collaborative aspects have become increasingly virtual, enhanced as they are by the Internet and its social networking ecologies. I have recently been on study leave from my university in Australia with a view to producing new music under these conditions while at the same time, beginning with the intent to track the project’s elements in mind of research outcomes. As part of this trajectory, I spent time travelling in the UK and Europe working with colleagues in various universities and conferences, meeting new musicians, and testing some of my understandings in relation to the work of artists in the academy.

I became attracted to synergies around the notion of ‘artistic research’ (AR) in Europe. In Australia many academics have been working at similar ideas since the amalgamation of arts institutions within universities from the late 80s (Draper, 2009a). Variously offered as ‘practice-based’, ‘-led’, ‘-though’, ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘as’ (etc.) it would seem that some clarity (or at least, greater confidence) may be emerging. While in the past I have published in a range of associated areas through traditional academic means, responding to the rhetoric and the claims for AR ‘head on’ as it were, was something I thought overdue for my own research endeavours. In this piece therefore I will examine my project in terms of recent theoretical scholarship in the field of AR, in particular, that of Henk Borgdorff whom I had the great pleasure to meet in The Hague (and while examining Master of Music vivas at the Royal Conservatoire’s Research Festival week, also of much simulation re. these matters).

Here then I wish to explore the various suggestions for what AR might ‘look like’, to more deeply understand how AR functions at a personal level, and to seek to offer two forms of knowledge production though this process: i) in terms of my own disciplinary specializations; and ii) in terms of more generalised propositional knowledge given on-going professional relationships with academics and students. Some of this follows my earlier experiences in higher education research where the ‘messiness’ of reflecting in- /on- practice is well documented (for example, Schön, 1983) and where some of the most significant findings may often be revealed in terms of such matters as emergent methodologies and indeed, to devise ‘better questions’ (McWilliam, 2011).



The entries for this exposition are designed to interrogate and better understand a central artistic portfolio, where each component may be used ‘standalone’, and/or via multiple access points and hyperlinking between them. I have borrowed from musical terminology to indicate the approach and content of each of six components as shown:

1. The Overture section serves as an introduction to an extended work, a proposal.


2. Arrangement discusses the musical issues at hand while delimiting the overall scope of the project in terms of the AR literature.


3. Jamming is a time-based portfolio comprising multi-voice narrative and digital representations of creative artefacts to (re) perform the processes involved in the emergence of new musical works.

4. The Coda presents an echo of the Overture to provide insights about the project and its relationship to the AR literature while positing future research possibilities.


5. Fade presents a self-review in relation to the presentation of the exposition.


6. Sources provides a bibliography together with hyperlinks to the Works  and Artists discussed in this exposition.