Research Seminar: Paul McMahon

This is a virtual seminar only. You can join the Zoom meeting here.


Artistic Practice Research: Blending non-traditional and traditional approaches

This presentation offers the practitioner-researcher multi-faceted pathways moving
beyond the purely artistic realm to delve within the broad academic context, drawing
together the dissemination of new knowledge through non-traditional research
processes and an orthodox scholarly publication.

Artists contribute to music's rich performative tradition through the presentation of art
songs—the lyrical merging of text and music composed for voice and piano. While
audio recordings offer a vehicle for performers to document their work through
sounds across time, singers' preparatory processes and the creative realization of art
songs within the environs of the recording studio are seldom discussed. Through an
approach grounded in personal experiences, this presentation offers an
autoethnographic narrative reflecting upon the author's artistic practice as a
professional singer.

Incorporating self-reflection, description and action, the presentation reveals some of
the complexities underpinning the phases of research, score study, rehearsal and
recording as the foundation of a 2017 artistic project chronicling selected art songs
by composer Calvin Bowman (b. 1972). The author discusses the subtleties of
preparing comparatively new works for their premiere recording, the vocalist's
responses to nuances within the poetry and challenges in building commonality of
interpretive purpose and intricate musical bonds between singer and composer
accompanist, while reflecting upon the significance of the producer's role in
appraising and supporting the musicians, as well as broader issues concerning the
practice of music-making.

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