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What do composers (and other artists) do all day? (part of Doing Together 2023)

What do composers (and other artists) do all day?

Workshop with James Saunders and Mathew Sergeant as part of doing together 2023

Tuesday 4 April 2023

doing together is a yearly two-day making and sharing practice symposium at Locksbrook Campus, hosted by Bath Spa University’s Centre of Cultural and Creative Industries and Art Research Centre. Workshops, delivered by staff and PGR students from across the University, share practice-based research methods and a broad range of approaches to practice. doing together is proposed as a generous space to make/do/share and discuss practice with colleagues from a range of different Schools. Throughout the symposium, facilitators - alongside participants - test out ways of doing together in an effort to make their practice-based research explicit, rather than simply describe it.

Following on from our recent articles in MusikTexte (May 2022 and May 2023), this session explored how our working routines enmesh with the work we make. We clean our teeth, watch someone walk past, write something in a notebook, ring a friend. We can use a working routine carefully planned and honed through experience, each element determined for its contribution to the process of making: walking the dog, going for a run, preparing and drinking coffee, tidying up, turning on a device, turning off a device, reading. Rituals. Or we follow the inverse of routine: spontaneous decisions, or unconscious routines that have a bearing on our practice without us realising it. Somehow, we fill our days and somehow things get made.

The way in which we make our work is in a discursive relationship with the way we live our lives. The nature of that which we make is in part a product of this same discursive relationship. However, we probably spend more time thinking about what we make and how we make it than the way we work itself. We talk a great deal, as composers, about sound, ideas, notation, technique, and aesthetic, but less about pens, rulers, notebooks, desks, light, aspect, location and routine - the where, when, who, and what of our working.

In this workshop, we presented some of the initial dialogues we have had with composers around the way they work, and extend this to open a discussion with makers from different disciplines present in the session with a view to exploring how working practices differ across the arts.

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