Friday, Sept 26 | 9:00-10:50 am


Research-Creation, Practice-Led Methodologies, and Interdisciplinary Discourse

Natalie S. Loveless

How do the emergent categories of research-creation and practice-led research ask us to reconfigure how we understand our subjects and objects of study by opening us up to foreign methodologies and questions?  How do such reconfigurations offer new ways of developing and disseminating interdisciplinary knowledge that are crucial to the structure of the 21st century university as well as the university’s role in Canadian society? This paper argues that while research-creation in Canada is often, in the first instance, linked to artistic production, its real potential rests in its demand for a multi or poly-disciplinary perspective that, while marshaling the insights of emerging and developing arts research methodologies, exceeds the arts proper. 


Natalie S. Loveless is a Canadian conceptual artist, curator, writer, and assistant professor of contemporary art history and theory in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta.  She is currently working on a SSHRC funded research creation project, "Maternal Ecologies: An Autoethnographic and Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Motherhood," and a book on research-creation as interdisciplinary method.

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Whatever Works: Research/Creation in the Context of Concordia Laptop Orchestra

Eldad Tsabary and Jamie Woollard

Concordia Laptop Orchestra (CLOrk) is an ensemble of 20-25 laptop performers, which operates in the framework of a university course built around the production of laptop-orchestra performances. Interdisciplinary and networked presentations are created within a prolific performance schedule; every piece is developed democratically and considered as a distinct context demanding specialized mediation. This approach was built through cycles of problem identification, reflection, solution, and testing, with a particular emphasis on temporal multiplicity and flexibility. We have named this approach "Whatever Works" (WheW) to emphasize its focus on actions that solve problems and propel the process of creation forward. It has been implemented on all levels of research, creation, and mediation—synchronously during performances, asynchronously during preparations to performances, and in a longer-term asynchronous manner, using action research to unearth deeper problems and promote transformation. In this presentation, I will report the evolution and implementation of WheW in the context of CLOrk’s performances and in light of the research purposes driving CLOrk—expanding the boundaries of the ensemble’s creative output, enriching the skillset of its members, improving efficiency and effectiveness of the creative process, and developing a better understanding of CLOrk’s process of evolution. 


Dr. Eldad Tsabary is a professor of electroacoustic music at Concordia University (Montreal), founder and director of the Concordia Laptop Orchestra (CLOrk), and president of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC). In 9 years at Concordia, he has also been the primary developer of a new aural training method designed for electroacoustics, which is inspired by precepts from auditory scene analysis (ASA) studies and is based on a transformational, democratic educational model utilizing action research methodology. 

Jamie Woollard is an award-winning pianist, teacher and electroacoustic composer and has produced work in diverse areas including live performance, radio and film score. Her work has appeared in Montreal's Nuit Blanche, Mutek, and the Send & Receive International Festival of Sound. In addition to her artistic work, Woollard is the co-curator of the Objet Sonore inter-disciplinary lecture series and podcast. She completed a BFA in Electroacoustics and Music at Concordia University, where she assisted Dr. Eldad Tsabary in researching emergent practices in telematics and networked laptop ensembles. Jamie is curious about almost everything.

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Composition as Research: IRCAM and Spectralism

Jeff R. Warren

In 1977, a major initiative into music research opened in Paris: Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a centre dedicated to science and avant-garde music housed in a building adjacent to the Centre Pompidou and heavily funded by the French government. The two most discussed aspects of IRCAM – whose founding director was Pierre Boulez – are the technologies it has engendered and its social and political role as an institution. IRCAM’s appeal for funding was seemingly legitimized by the ‘scientization’ of music, wherein scientific language was adopted to describe the research outputs of the institute. IRCAM describes its mission as an interaction between ‘research’ and ‘music production’, ascribing the role of research to progress-driven technology development, and music production to the work of composers. Despite the language used to justify the work of the institute, composers often lead projects, and some composers viewed the ‘researchers’ primarily as technicians. Assigning the name ‘research’ to the work that fits into scientific models of technological  progress might help the cause of IRCAM, but it also de-emphasizes the research involved in creative work. If music is world-disclosive (Andrew Bowie) or a mode of truth (Alain Badiou), then at least as important as the technological outputs of IRCAM are the new truths and ways of imagining the world opened up by the music itself. In this presentation, I examine how in the 1980s the group of young French composers that came to be known as ‘spectralists’ – due to their interest in how musical timbre is formed by harmonic spectra – opened new ways of grappling with France’s post–68 culture through their research/compositional work at IRCAM. This examination leads to broader questions about how musical creation can contribute to political, cultural and philosophical discourses.   


Jeff R. Warren, PhD is Professor of Music and Humanities at Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia. His book, Music and Ethical Responsibility, is published by Cambridge University Press. Jeff’s research areas include music and ethics, improvisation, soundscape, and phenomenology. His creative work includes sound installations, jazz composition and performance on double bass. Jeff has a PhD in music and philosophy from Royal Holloway, University of London. Before moving to Quest in 2013, Jeff spent nine years at Trinity Western University, where he retains the title of Adjunct Professor of Music and Interdisciplinary Arts. More at

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