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Problem-solving strategies and processes in musical composition: Observations in real time

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This article draws on previous empirical studies that have used methodological strategies such as think-alouds (verbal protocol analysis), computer-based digital data collection and video observations to explore the process of music composition in real-time. A paradigm of music composition as a form of problem solving was assumed. Three higher education students composed short pieces and, using the above data collection methods, outputs were mapped against theoretical models of creative thinking and a hypothetical model deriving from a previous longitudinal, four-year single-case study. The real-time tracking of the music composition process in the present study observed a linear cycle of problem-solving strategies and nonlinear, recursive musical structuring. The study indicates that the real-time data collection tools were useful in eliciting added understandings of cognition in music composition and further insight into the act of musical structuring at a macro and micro level.
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Keywords: compositional structuring; music composition; problem solving; real-time; recursive thinking; verbal protocol

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University Centre, Doncaster College

Publication date: August 26, 2011

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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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