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20th MAY 2023

Composition & Songwriting Panel


How have composition, song writing and arranging changed since the proliferation of technological tools in recording, and writing music? What are the tensions between originality and external influences (genre, commerciality etc) in contemporary song writing and composition?

More on the Research Network: 21st Century Music Practice

This presentation poses as an experiment, a prompt to expand the field of songwriting. My focus rests on process within my own ongoing artistic and research practice. Multimodal experience calls for multimodal articulation, therefore I employ multidisciplinary forms of autoethnographic documentation of my iterative practice, highlighting elements typically regarded as extrinsic to songwriting and placing them at the heart of attention. Themes in the spotlight will include embodiment, scale, slowness, unfinishedness, and the everyday.

My presentation is grounded in my Practice Research PhD (titled Songs as Process – Collapsing the Commercial Product through Embodiment), which disrupts normative epistemologies of popular song in response to a dominant discourse that understands popular music as commercial product – the recording. My antidote, and catalyst, is a radical foregrounding of process and an active decentring of product. In popular music making (as framed in my research), the recording is artefact (albeit a very important artefact), and the practice is the work – ongoing, seeping, changeable, multi- directional, multimodal, and non-linear. In other words, practice is process.

Calling the primacy of the commercial product into question, my investigations of songwriting process actively embrace this understanding of a practice as multimodal, discovery-led, and ultimately transdisciplinary. Performing, re-instantiating, and documenting my own process, I lean on experimentation and repetition, drawing on filmmaking, installation, writing, and performance art, bringing these disciplines right into songwriting and treating them as reciprocities.In this presentation I will expressly reference my ongoing project of generating process films, which turn songwriting inside-out and cleave a space for contemplating the tentative, the speculative, the flawed, and the repetitive – exploring what artistic consequences may follow a collapse of the commercial product in songwriting?

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