The Extended Flautist: Techniques, Technologies and Performer Perceptions in Music for Flute and Electronics

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Tomlinson, Vanessa

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Draper, Paul

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As musical and performance practices have evolved over the last half-century, the realm of the solo flautist has expanded to encompass an extensive array of emerging techniques and technologies. This research examines the impact of electronics on the flautist. It explores and confronts this expanding musicological nexus through forwarding the voice of the performer: defining the search for knowledge through the actuality of performance, reflection and narrative. The investigation is based around two recitals of music for flute with electronics, incorporating ideas of spatialisation and interactive live electronics. These recitals presented music by Jean-Claude Risset, Mario Lavista, Thea Musgrave, Marco Stroppa, Kaija Saariaho, Russell Pinkston, Warren Burt and Georg Hajdu. The structure for the research is based on the model of this experience, a journey of evolving understanding corresponding to the processes of performance: conception, preparation, presentation and reflection. This model proposes a framework for musicological investigation incorporating a comprehensive survey of repertoire and literature, considerations of technological functionality, and personal engagement with specific music, techniques and performance. The use of electronics to reveal elements of electroacoustic performance informs and positions the research, and raises questions for analysis and further explorations and understanding. The ‘site of discovery’ here is the performance; the goal is to demystify, renew, and re-evaluate the performer’s world. Building on and finding support in research from an emerging body of discourse in the wider field, the discussion and findings are primarily addressed through self-observation, based on the author’s experience as performer, as flautist. Thus these findings display significant partiality, as they aim to expand understandings of performance with electronics from within; to articulate knowledge revealed only through engagement with performance itself, and to provide a platform for the performer as writer. The focus on the self in this research approach promotes further understanding of how a performer or listener engages with the sonic, emotional, conceptual and connective capacities of the music. The project draws together historical perspectives, performance and reflective The Extended Flautist critiques, documentation of the processes of performance, the connections to technology, to others and the self. The embodiment of music through learning, rehearsal and performance is a journey that leads to the revelation of otherwise inaccessible performance knowledge. This revelation is approached here through centering the research on this very act. It is the doing, the experience, and the observation of performance with electronics that creates the responses and material of this discourse. The instrumentalist, electronics and space become an entity, a meta-instrument, incited by the microphone to construct new sounds, new expression and new identities. Renewed playing perspectives and actions, the disclosure of intuitive responses and newly evolving partnerships emerge with the knowledge of process and defined approaches. New representations of the self in sound, new awareness and perception of the performative body, connections and exchange, unveil a relocated, reshaped performing persona. The Extended Flautist traces this performative journey through a discursive musicology, an embodied scholarly encounter of narrative, analysis and performance. An enactive performance practice is revealed, a transformative musicality teeming with renewed approaches to sonority, physicality, performance space, partnerships, self-perception and expression.

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Thesis (Professional Doctorate)

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Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Queensland Conservatorium of Music

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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The request for restricted paper and digital access for a period of 12 months has been approved, with effect from 19 November 2009.

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