Communication, collaboration and creativity: how musicians negotiate a collective ‘sound’

Littleton, Karen and Mercer, Neil (2012). Communication, collaboration and creativity: how musicians negotiate a collective ‘sound’. In: Hargreaves, David; Miell, Dorothy and Macdonald, Ray eds. Musical Imaginations: Multidisciplinary perspectives on creativity, performance and perception. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 233–241.

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Abstract

Studies of collective rehearsal for musical performance are relatively scarce; reflecting both the paucity of interest within music education research, in creative rather reproductive musical activities and the enduring emphasis on composition as a solitary rather than a collective, community-based process Furthermore, as Sawyer and DeZutter (2009) have noted, even though there has been a wave of research that has recognised how creativity is embedded in social groups (e.g. Sawyer, 2006) and how creative products emerge from collaboration (p. 81) we still have very little understanding of the processes whereby creative products emerge from groups:

‘The most substantial studies of group creativity have been social psychological studies of brainstorming groups…but these studies have not analysed the interactional processes that occur within groups. This failure to analyse collaborative processes is a significant lacuna in creativity research because a wide range of empirical studies has revealed that significant creations are almost always the result of complex collaborations’ (Sawyer and DeZutter, 2009, p.81).

One of our aims in this chapter is therefore to underscore the case that we should be studying these processes - both to advance our understanding of the nature of collaborative music making and ‘imagining’ and collaborative creativity more generally.

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