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Rethinking the musical ensemble: A model for collaborative learning in higher education music technology

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Kudac (Kingston University Digital Arts Collective) is an electronic improvisation ensemble that brings staff and students together for weekly musicking with technology – incorporating resources ranging from conventional instruments, to computers, to hacked circuit boards. A central element of the ensemble from its inception has been its democratic approach – staff and students explore the musical possibilities and challenges together and gradually mould their practice through a free exchange. In this article we consider the contribution of this ensemble in several overlapping domains: in relation to the individual students, in the context of a higher education music department, and at the intersection of research and teaching. We first survey the structure and activities of the ensemble, contextualizing this with reference to existing research in the fields of laptop performance, free improvisation and musical identity formation. We use this as a platform for tracing how such an ensemble may aid the social construction and shaping of creative identities at both an individual and collective level. We then examine the opportunities and challenges for a music department hosting such an ensemble before highlighting areas for future study.
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Keywords: creative collaboration; creativity; free improvisation; higher education; laptop ensembles; laptop performance; music technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Kingston University London 2: City University London

Publication date: December 1, 2014

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  • The Journal of Music, Technology and Education (JMTE) explores the issues concerning the use of technology in music education. It examines pedagogy at all levels and across genres such as composition, musicology, performance and music production. It is the only journal specifically dedicated to the educational aspects of music technology and the technological aspects of music. Peer-reviewed, with an international editorial board, JMTE aims to draw its contributions from a broad community of educators, researchers and practitioners who are working closely with new technologies in the fields of music education and music technology education.
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