This exposition presents, unpacks and discusses the effects of intercultural dialogue and collaboration on the formation of an individual personal artistic identity, through the lens of two musical duets. These musical case studies are centred around the author in dialogue with a Brazilian berimbau player and a Sámi singer. The author is an Australian double bass player and composer with broad experience of living and working as a musician in culturally diverse environments, who commonly uses improvisation, collaboration and co-creation as working methods. 


My own practice, creation processes and musical outcomes are considered as both materials and outcomes in this research, as well as employing aspects of autoethnography (Ellis and Bochner, 2000) as a method, utilizing rehearsal process journals, discussion transcriptions and personal reflections. I position myself within the community of artist researchers commonly using the terminology of practice-based research, artistic research or research-creation, depending on the region of the world.  It is important to note that these three terms may currently all be used interchangeably in different geographical locations and that they essentially all strive to communicate their own unique arts based research approaches, whereby the act of artistic creation and research intertwine in a mutually beneficial dialogue. The musical creations contained in this research therefore act equally as methods, data and results of the ongoing research.  From this stand-point, I engage in discussion with other artist / researchers, as well as researchers from the fields of education and sociology. 


Writing on the subject of artistic research, philosopher and music theorist Henk Borgdorff offers a succinct description stating ‘I have mainly used the term artistic research to denote that domain of research and development in which the practice of art – that is, the making and the playing, the creation and the performance, and the works of art that result – play a constitutive role in a methodological sense’ (Borgdorff, 2009, p.21). Philosopher Juha Varto adds further perspectives on the subject pointing out that artistic research has the same goals as any research on science, arts, or ethnology: to produce information, develop skills, and add understanding about the world and the human being as part of it’ (Varto, 2018, p.10). 

My research strives to examine the creative processes undertaken in this project both inquisitively and critically. In doing so, I search for greater understanding and knowledge building that is perhaps uniquely accessible through the act of engaging in research through artistic practice, intertwined with audio, image and text.  Australian musicians and researchers Vanessa Tomlinson and Toby Wren articulate this concept clearly stating that ‘new knowledge…in the case of much Artistic Research generally, is twice constructed: embodied in performances, recordings, or scores; and deconstructed, or reconstructed, through text. This requires a particular kind of interdisciplinary expertise of the artistic researcher: a mastery of creative practice, of critical reflexivity, and of text’ (Tomlinson and Wren 2017, pp. 8-9). 

Through this lens, the two musical case studies contained in this exposition act as focal points to examine the process and effects of intercultural dialogue, collaboration, transculturalism, hybridity and identity formation, considering two core research questions:


How can intercultural dialogue and collaboration impact on the formation of a personal artistic identity?


How can the third space emerging from a transcultural dialogue be a catalyst for new musical discoveries?


As a further sub-question I consider: What kinds of musical and communication skills are needed to co-create music in a transcultural context and which kinds of ethical issues arise? 


Key areas of investigation include Third Space Theory (Bhabha, 1996),  the concept of Resonance, which speaks of our relationship to the world (Rosa, 2019) and the effects of intercultural collaboration, transculturalism and hybridity on artistic identity. The core thread of discussion and argumentation is centred firstly around the idea that by placing oneself in diverse and unknown musical environments and engaging in dialogue, a dynamic third space emerges, which holds within it the opportunity for new elements and approaches to surface and take shape in unexpected ways. And secondly, I propose that searching for points of resonance with the world around us may be crucial in the creation of meaning and the formation of a personal artistic identity.


However, these processes do not necessarily take place automatically and require the careful crafting of certain musical and non-musical skills. These aspects will be discussed and unpacked at various stages of the exposition. Although the practice of music making is at the core of this research, the work is viewed with a wide-angle lens, acknowledging findings that point to the importance and potential benefits of increasing intercultural dialogue, understanding, collaboration and resonance at all levels of society. Discoveries also emerge within the areas of extended instrumental techniques and an expanded sonic palette for the double bass, as well as the creation of new music.  


The words intercultural and transcultural are both employed in this research as descriptive terms. Intercultural is used in this context to describe the initial meeting of musicians from different cultural backgrounds who enter into mutual dialogue with the aim of creating new work that is  transcultural or hybrid in nature. Transcultural refers to an ‘in-depth exchange of approaches and ideas’ (Schippers, 2010, p.31). Furthermore, transculturalismthird space and hybridity (Bhabha, 1996) are also used as terms to describe the long-term effects of immersion into other cultural contexts on an artistic identity. However, this research acknowledges the fact that the musicians entering into dialogue in this project already represent various forms of hybridity and the focal point rests firmly on examining the effects of collaboration and the possibilities presented by the emerging third space, rather than focussing on the meeting of cultures themselves.      


The live musical outcomes used as video examples are derived from my doctoral concerts in 2017 and 2018. The studio recordings of the duet for berimbau and double bass titled Ode to Nana and the duet for double bass and Sámi joik titled Oaidnemeahttun / Invisible are taken from my album Resonance, released by Sibarecords in 2019, which also forms one part of my doctoral work. 


My entire artistic doctoral project is made up of a series of interconnected parts, including this exposition, another peer reviewed published article, an integrative introductory chapter and five artistic components.  This exposition connects to a larger exposition, which houses the complete framework and scope of my doctoral project at Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki. 


My complete doctoral project can be found here

(please note that this link will only be active when the final work has been published, which is anticipated to be during 2021).


The exposition viewed on the following pages zooms in on two examples from this larger process, namely the two sonic conversations for double bass and berimbau, and double bass and Sámi joik.  

Figure 1.0. (Culebro, Thomson, 2018). Close up image of liquid resonating in response to bass frequencies.

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