1. Outline of the Project:
The proposed title of my project is ‘From Nought to Thirty’. It falls into three crossover categories:
- curation; a written work of autoethnography
- performance; creating songs themed on autobiographical events
- production; the act of recording, distributing the music
The first form of the project will be to produce written works to be posted on a specific website in blog format. The second will be to produce musical works to be delivered digitally through Soundcloud. Each individual track will be incorporated into the relevant written work on the website.
The overall project may take years to complete in detail. As such the intention for the university project is to produce a small but significant number of snapshots based on certain periods of my life to indicate the direction of the overall project. A timeline will be produced to indicate the periods covered by the university project.
The concept of the project is to explore my relationship with genres of music from youth to adulthood including my involvement with subcultures, investigate my curatorial practices as music ‘collector’, and assess the relationship with identity. The musical works produced for life events will reflect my involvement with genres and subcultures.
Texts on autoethnography, subcultures, curation, and identity are being sourced to create the academic underpinning for the project. I am producing a chart that links age to the musical genres / subcultural involvement, significant life events, and personally significant or important musical works. A website is being developed to be used for the project.
2. Outline of Theoretical Underpinning:
It is my intention to underpin the creative process in three stages, the first of which is to investigate the creative practice of autoenthnographic works and their links to performance arts. I will investigate my perspective on identity, genre, and subcultures in relation to the age at which I was experiencing them, whilst taking into account the constant considerations of gender and race. It is through these processes I intend on producing works that relate life events with subculture and genre.
“Autobiographical performances strategically work with life experiences, but rather than rendering them self-evident the politcal task is to discern the sub-text.” (Heddon, 2008).
The second stage is to research curation and values attributed to music. Reynolds (2011) discusses changing curatorial behaviours of the record collector whilst acknowledging that music memory is now almost infinite because of the digital distribution, using YouTube as an example. Curatorial behaviours are discussed by Shuker (2013), specifically consumption of music by audiences related to signifiers of identity; ethnicity, age, and environment. Understanding evironmental context will be important to relate shared cultural experiences with my own, achieved through analysis of secondary research, and by conducting primary research with other subcultural participants.
Finally, I will be investigating identity and its relationship with both curation and creativity. Wikstrom’s (2013) looks at participatory culture from the perspective of the participant and their relationship with music and the desire to “… share feelings and experiences with their peers and the world.”. It is my interpretation that this is particularly relevant to my autoethnographical project.
Further to this thread I will investigate the aspect of myself that continually wants to learn and improve my creative output, acts of self-surpassing (Sartre, 1948), and also the view of this project as a product of environment and human subjectivity (ibid).
Similar Creative Works
Although I could not find precedent project in both written and musical form together, I have found practical references that set precedent for exclusively written or musical works.
Alan McGhee’s autobiography is the written story of his relationship with music from childhood, and ‘Simple Music for a Simple Public’ by RWM (Bobby Mullarkey) is an example of an autobiographical/autoethnographical musical work discussed in more detail in the references section.
3. Reading List:
“Autobiography and Performance” (Heddon, 2008) looks at the act of translating autobiographical works into performance pieces. It discusses the sense of self and place, but importantly it will serve to underpin the ethical considerations of the project by providing an academic insight into the representation of third parties within the narrative of the biographical work.
“Creating Autoethnographies” (Muncey, 2010) is a work that breaks down and describes the process of producing an autobiographical or autoethnographical work from inception to delivery. The chapters on generating “Personal Worlds” as contextual background and “What is autoethnography” will form an important foundation for developing a sense of the individual experience and identity.
“Retromania” and “Rip It Up” by Simon Reynolds, 2011 and 2005 respectively, look at the relationship between the curator/fan and music collection and experience, with the latter revolving around the post-punk subculture of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Reynolds often describes his own experience within the contextual analysis of his works, giving the books an almost autobiographical/autoethnographica feel in places. These works bear relevance to the project because they not only cover the category of curation but also provide a sense of the author’s self-involvement in subculture.
“Club Cultures” (Thornton, 1995) is not directly related to my subcultural cultural involvement by genre, but it does discuss authenticity of genre in relation to race and the concept of cool; sub-cultural capital. These will bear relevance to my investigation of genre and my subcultural involvement.
“Subculture: The Fragmentation of the Social” (Jenks, 2005) concludes that subcultures “…speak for themselves, without the constraints of collective inclusion…” within the confines of society instead of attempting to include “…the emergent identities and differences.”. This work, albeit from a purely sociological standpoint, will serve to underpin the context of the project in relation to subcultures and subcultural involvement.
“The Music Industry” (Wikstrom, 2013) dedicates a chapter to the discussion of the ‘Social and Creative Music Fan’, the act of being a member of an active audience as opposed to being a passive consumer. Wikstrom’s work will help to set the context of my identity within subculture as both a fan and an active participant and creator.
“Understanding Popular Music Culture” (Shuker, 2013) discusses two important areas of my project; authenticity in relation to genre, and identity in relation to music consumption and fanaticism. Both will be used to generate context in my efforts to investigate my relationship with music curation and identity.
“Creation Stories: Riots, Raves and Running a Label” is Alan McGhee’s (2013) autobiography. It outlines his journey with music from childhood to adulthood, incorporating experiences and life events that shaped his identity and career path within the creative industries. This is an important text because it is delivered in a similar
‘Simple Music for a Simple Public’ by RWM (Bobby Mullarkey) is an example of an autobiographical/autoethnographical musical work. The record tells the story of the artist’s experiences and emotional journey during the final years of his father’s life. The songs on the record follow a chronological path of events that affected the protagonist, developing the narrative of the work. The use of tempo and melody as signifiers of mood and emotion are key to the consumer connecting with the subject and the artist. I am in the fortunate position of knowing the artist, so I may be able to both interview him about his experience with autobiographical creative process and possibly involve him in my project.