Compositional activity as exploitation and construction of situations. A cognitive anthropological approach to the composition of a musical work by Philippe Leroux

Donin Nicolas
Theureau Jacques
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2008.1245
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Expert musical composition has been poorly studied as a cognitive phenomenon. In this paper we reconstruct the dynamics of a composer’s situated cognition during his current interaction with his environment when composing a new work for ensemble, voice and live electronics: Apocalypsis (2006). Data were collected in the course of 14 ‘interviews within situation simulation through material
traces’ with the composer, Philippe Leroux, all along the genesis of the piece. By using numerous traces – at hand during the interviews – of his composition activity (drafts, sketches, manuscript score, computer data, diary, etc.), Leroux was able to retrieve the course of his different compositional operations. We stress upon the relationship between writing, re-reading and inner listening during preparation and score writing. Different kinds of re-reading activity were observed: local re-reading, re-reading at a prefined and strategic moment, re-reading at a predefined but difficultuous moment, re-reading resulting from an artistic crisis. These categories and the characteristics of their fulfillment emerge from an in-depth analysis of the composition of a formal articulation between two contrasted parts of a movement. This approach to music cognition strives at both taking into account the singularity and irreproducibility of the composer’s cognition, and managing scientific standards of discussion and generalization procedures. The paper finally opens to a future extension of this method and results toward others compositional and artistic activities.

Pour citer cet article :

Donin Nicolas, Theureau Jacques (2008/1). Compositional activity as exploitation and construction of situations. In Sedes Anne (Eds), Music and Cognition, Intellectica, 48-49, (pp.175-206), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2008.1245.