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  • Writer's pictureKim Myer

Through this creative inquiry I came to understand what music represents to me. By means of improvisation and experimentation, the track developed into a thing in and of itself, transcending the need for a first-person narrative. In this imaginary space I was able to establish that the fundamental nature of music is nature itself.

The experience of composition is the closest I can get to the source of creation. However, inorganic the technology may be, the essence is still the same. Music is a mediator, it reinterprets, imitates, and transcends. It flows through us purely by intention. As the creative process evolves, so too does the potential to draw upon its many forms and variations.

While we can never really identify one definitive source of origin, music is one of the closest representational forms there is. Not only can music mediate conscious and unconscious intention, it is inseparable from its underlying process in human creation. Through interpretation, the eclectic sounds of nature have informed human language and is the driving force behind ritualistic and communal activities.

My process of disruption to the structures of the creative experience involved improvisation and experimentation. With no defined structure, tempo, genre, or style in mind, the experience was purely intuitive. I reversed my workflow and built the piece through a process of elimination. Compiling all the samples first, which were sixty odd bird, insect, amphibian and mammal calls, interspersed with some wild drum solos, there was a definite sense of chaos, and potential for disaster. However, after finding my feet I was immediately enchanted. My experience being communal, tribal, festive, and playful.

In reflection I believe I have a better understanding of how my creative practise can be used within arts-based research. I had assumed that the logic rationale of academia would cancel out creative spontaneity. However, what I found in this investigation was quite the opposite. The essence of the experience does not change. The interconnection between them again relying on intuition, perception, and interpretation. Therefore, in my experience the fundamental essence of music is the natural world.

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  • Writer's pictureKim Myer

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

The idea of this week’s blog task is to visually articulate the process and line of inquiry which led to the proposed research question. Scrawling through pages upon pages of ideas, connections and resources can be quite chaotic and difficult to communicate. Thus, using a mind map serves as a visual articulation of the process.

Mind Map

Finding the right research question was indeed a lengthy and continual process, my line of inquiry changing numerous times. Lost in a never-ending portal of possibility, I kept coming back to my original interest, which was philosophical in scope. The capacity to engage in a more open-ended and ambiguous questioning appears to be the most engaging, and arousing line of inquiry, all the while being the most frustratingly ambiguous. While I may not be on the right path, “the major aim of arts-based research is not to have the correct answer to the question or the correct solution to the problem; it is to generator questions that stimulate problem formation.” (Barone, p, 171)

What is the fundamental nature of music? This long running question has led to more questions and inquiries than there are philosophers’ stones. Can the act of listening to music bring the participant closer to the core of its essential nature; the object in and of itself. How can we explain its very nature when you are participating in the act itself? Maybe I don’t really want to know its fundamental nature, or maybe there’s reprieve in knowing I won’t find it anyway. However, such exploration is a way to “diversify the pantry of methods that researchers can use to address the problems they care about.” (Barone, p. 170). While I have no idea of the outcome, what draws me to phenomenology, besides Toby’s power of suggestion, is the potential for a more meaningful engagement with the fundamental nature of music. What I do know though is, my intended disruption to the structures of the musical experience aims to highlight how prediction and assumption have a definitive effect on the phenomenological experience.

As a discipline rarely explored on its own, music is one of the least used practices in arts-based research. (Leavey, 2015; Daykin, 2004; Smith 1997). Researched mainly in combination with multi-disciplinary fields such as art, dance, performance and film, music’s transience and lack of form have prevented it from becoming any form of absolute knowledge. Sensibilities such as expression, intuition, perception and interpretation, all being very hard to quantify and impossible to replicate.

In this respect, music acts as an ageless and disembodied spirit which can take on multiple forms and tongues. It has many voices and many representational forms. As LaBelle explains, “sound is already mine and yet not mine- I cannot hold it for long, nor can I arrest all its itinerant energy. Sound is promiscuous. It exists as a network that teaches us how to belong, to find place, as well as how not to belong, to drift.” (2010, p.17). While music cannot communicate what a word can, its ability to suggest and signify can be both observed and interpreted.

Like alchemists in search of the fundamental nature of matter, phenomenology arose by bringing the metaphysical back from its place in the heavens. (Dura, 2006; Burger, 1999). The position I will take is quite simple. In the vein of Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology, I am the subject and the piece of music or sound is the object. Only through the subject, myself, can the object come into being. Like the Platonic notion of spirit which views “music as an imprint of the laws of nature in our spirit (….) a combination of sound and spirit” (Samama, 2015, p. 400), however transient or fleeting this occasion may be, engaging with its ethereal nature gives it form with which to communicate.

As sound is not a thing in itself, the phenomena can only be truly experienced through a certain level of prediction. In order to engage phenomenologically with music, my methodology will begin with an analogy.

After experiencing trees for 46 years, I am very familiar with their size, shape, sound, contours, and colour, so much so that there is no need to have conscious thought in regard to their being-ness. These assumptions hold together a set of beliefs and ideas in regard to what a tree is. However, if I was to one day look at a tree from a different angle and find them to be two dimensional, like a cardboard cut-out, I would not only be perplexed, I would immediately be aware of my assumptions and expectations regarding the depth and dimension of trees. In this respect you could conclude that this disruption to the flow of assumptive behaviour is what brought the trees being-ness back into consciousness. While I am aware that a tree is not music, clearly by the fact that it has form and makes sound independently of humans, my phenomenological investigation will follow this line of analogy, beginning with a disruption of the structures of the musical experience. In doing so, I aim to highlight how prediction and assumption have a definitive effect on the phenomenological experience.

On the whole this project examines the connection between phenomenology and music, the connection between music and research and the connection between research and phenomenology.

Disclaimer: ‘Music’ and ‘Sound’ are intermittently entangled within this proposal. While I acknowledge this to be problematic, at this stage its disentanglement requires more disentangling.


Barone, Tom, Jr., et al. (2011). Arts Based Research, SAGE Publications. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Bartleet, B., & Ellis, C. (2009). Introduction. In B. Bartleet & C. Ellis (Eds). Music autoethnographies: Making autoethnography sing/making music personal (pp. 1–20). Samford Valley, Queensland: Australian Academic Press.

Bassot, B. (2015). The Reflective Practice Guide: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Critical Reflection. Taylor and Francis Group

Benson, B, E. (2003). The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music,

Cambridge University Press. ProQuest eBook Central,

Berger, H. M. (1999). Metal, rock, and jazz: Perception and the phenomenology of musical experience. Wesleyan University Press.

Bourner, B. and Greener, S. (2016). The Research journey: Four Steps to Success. In T. Greener & S. Greener (Eds). Research Methods for Postgraduates. Third Ed. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Pro Quest eBook

Davis, C. S., & Ellis, C. (2008). Emergent methods in autoethnographic research: Autoethnographic narrative and the multiethnographic turn. In S. N. Hesse-Biber & P. Leavy (Eds). Handbook of emergent methods (pp. 283–302). New York: Guilford Press.

Daykin, N. (2004). The role of music in arts-based qualitative inquiry. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(2), Article 3, 36–44. Retrieved from

Dura, M, D. (2006). The Phenomenology of the Music-listening Experience. Arts Education Policy Review; Jan/Feb 2006; V. 107, p.3;

Graham, J. (2015). Anchorage: a phenomenology of outline

Higgins, K, M. (2011). Visual Music and Synaesthesia. In T. Gracyk & A. Kania. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music (Eds). Taylor & Francis Group. ProQuest Ebook

Ihde, D. (2007). Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound, Second Edition, State University of New York Press. ProQuest Ebook Central,

LaBelle, B. (2010). Acoustic territories: Sound culture and everyday life. Bloomsbury Academic & Professional.

Leavy, P. (2015). Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. (2nd ed) Guilford Publications. ProQuest eBook

Lochhead, J. (2011). Music Theory and Philosophy. In T. Gracyk, & A, Kania, (Eds). The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music. Taylor & Francis Group. ProQuest Ebook

Lyle Skains, R. (2018). Creative Practice as Research: Discourse on

Methodology, Media Practice and Education, 19:1, 82-97, DOI: 10.1080/14682753.2017.1362175

McClary, S. (1994). Of Patriarchs... and Matriarchs, Too. Susan McClary Assesses the Challenges and Contributions of Feminist Musicology. The Musical Times, 135(1816), 364–369.

Samama, L. (2015). The Meaning of Music, Amsterdam University Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Skains, R. L. (2018). Creative Practice as Research: Discourse on

Methodology, Media Practice and Education, 19:1, 82-97, DOI: 10.1080/14682753.2017.1362175

Small, C. (1998). Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, Wesleyan University Press,

Smith, S, J. (1997). Beyond geography’s visible worlds: A cultural politics of music. Uni of Edinburgh, UK.

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  • Writer's pictureKim Myer



This week’s blog task asks us to create a self-portrait of our practitioner self through a medium of choice. The purpose is to formulate a research question through the creative process. Drawing on homage, nostalgia and phenomenology, this inquiry interrogates the ambiguity surrounding art as knowledge.

The outcome was an audio collage reflecting the ambiguity surrounding creativity as research! The piece mirrors my internal questioning process and portrays the complexity in expressing musical experience in words.

Positioning art within an academic framework requires both practise and inquiry to come together with intention. As Borgdorff claims, “Art practise qualifies as research if its purpose is to expand our knowledge and understanding by conducting an original investigation in and through art objects and creative processes.” (p.2, 2007). While I agree and understand art can be research, in the context of my own practise, applying intellectualism and self-critique is something new. It’s not necessarily a case of unlearning but more of rethinking and building upon.

To pursue academic research though artistic practise one must pose a question and go on a journey of discovery. According to McNiff, during the process of discovery other questions may formulate and the inquiry might take unexpected twists and turns. Some may even arrive at a position which invalidates an original theory or reveals no definitive answer at all. (2008)

Using descriptive language to understand subjective experience is a challenge in and of itself, let alone designing a research question that is unique, comprehensive, not too personal, and contributes to knowledge. This process, as McNiff describes is “characterised by a crucible of tensions, struggles, and a certain degree of chaos.” (p.39) This idea of chaos and discursive deconstruction drew me back to John Cage, and his album ‘Darmstadt Aural Document.’

Cages dialogical and deconstructive approach to music creation questions the very essence of the process of composition. Favouring himself to be more of an inventor than composer, Cage’s “experiments with chance, silence, and ‘discreet’ music in his compositions were a means to radically question and upend the received classical music tradition.” (Perloff, 2002. p. 64) Inspired by Cage’s deconstructive style, I depart theory and look to my creative practice. Can I make an audio piece reflecting the ambiguities surrounding creativity as research?


Pro Tools Session

Import Audio

Cut up material

Reposition randomly along time line

Edit, cut, mix and refine

I remixed instrumental parts of some of my songs and overlayed them with dialogues from John Cage, Rudolph Steiner, Alan Watts, J. Krishamurti, and special guest John. F. Kennedy. The excerpts drawn from an array of my recorded tracks in the key of AM. The idea was to have a blank canvas to throw around ideas, Pollock style. I wasn’t sure of the outcome but I did trust the workflow and the tools at hand would move me in the right direction. I used other people’s theories to build a bridge between what I wanted to say and what others have said before.


The outcome was an audio collage reflecting the ambiguity surrounding creativity as research! The piece mirrors my internal questioning process and portrays the complexity in expressing musical experience in words.

Can I create a piece of music that reflects the challenges of designing a research question? I think the results are open ended. The deconstructive nature perhaps opening more lines of inquiry than expected.

Some questions that developed through the process were: What is the essence of music? How can you look at creativity in a new way? Is it possible to create a system of artistic inquiry through remixing and refining old ideas?


Borgdorff, H. (2007). The debate on research in the arts. Dutch Journal of Music Theory, 12 910, pp. 1-17

Cage, J. Composition as process: Darmstadt Aural Document

Chem is Try. (2020, January, 11). Reality, Art and Illusion Part 1. Chem is Try. [Video}. YouTube.

McNiff, S. (2008). Art-based research. In J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole Eds. Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 29-40). Los Angeles: Sage

Perloff, N. (2002). “The right to be myself, as long as I Live! As if I were a sound.” Postmodernism and the Music of John Cage. In: H. Bertens and J. Natoli, ed Postmodernism: The Key Figures, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 62-69.

Rudolph Steiner Press. (2019, April 14). The Lemurian Race. [Video]. YouTube.

Rudolph Steiner Press. (2021, November 7). Mineral consciousness and Plant Consciousness. [Video]. YouTube.

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