Theory, practice and the in-between: Some thoughts concerning music, technology and education

Ferreira, G. M. d. S. (2005). Theory, practice and the in-between: Some thoughts concerning music, technology and education. International Journal of Learning, 11



‘Music technology’ has been progressively gaining strength as an umbrella term for a number of professional and academic practices carried out within a context in which new media for the production, storage and distribution of music, as well as the relative decrease in the cost of electronic musical equipment – possibly amongst a plethora of other aspects – have enabled an unprecedented dissemination of both music as a product and music-making as an activity. Examining the potential of ‘music technology’ construed as a subject area in its own right, this paper examines two areas of crucial import to ‘music technology’ education: (a) the tension between academic concerns with curriculum content in respect to academic legitimacy and credibility, on the one hand, and practical considerations of placement within the job market, on the other hand; (b) the tension between conceptions of ‘music’ embodied in specific curricula and those anticipated by the student construed (often self-construed) as ‘client’. Adopting a post-structuralist stance, the paper argues that these areas of concern are characterised by dilemmas associated with the polarisation between theory and practice that characterises predominant discourses on music. It is proposed that this polarisation has traditionally infused musical scholarship (by opposing scholarly to performance practices, for example) and music making (by opposing ‘professional’ to ‘amateur’ practices, for example). In deconstructing this dichotomy, this paper suggests a conception of ‘music technology’ neither as opposed to a ‘hard’ ‘technology of music’ nor as a collection of techniques and tools taught alongside more traditional subjects within music programmes, but as an ‘in between’ site that promotes the emergence of new discourses, new technologies, and, hopefully, new musics.

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