Composer-composer collaboration and the difficulty of intradisciplinarity
Research and practice involving parties from different disciplines is of increasing importance in many fields. In the arts, this has manifested itself in both increasing attention on established collaborative partnerships – composers, for example, collaborating with writers, choreographers and directors – and a move towards more overtly cross-, multi-, inter- and/or trans-disciplinary forms of working – a composer working with a physicist, philosopher or psychologist. Composer-composer partnerships are far less common, meaning intradisciplinary collaboration is little explored in relation to practice research in music.
This article takes the collaborative music theatre composition I only know I am (2019) created by the authors – Litha Efthymiou and Martin Scheuregger – as a case study, outlining the issues and opportunities that arise through combining two compositional practices in an effort to create a single artistic output. Ways in which the composers managed this process are detailed in the context of communication, technology, and the issue of tacit knowledge (of both individual compositional process and the working of intradisciplinary collaboration). In particular, reflections on their experience during a week-long residency, in which they collaborated on a single musical work, is discussed in order to understand to what extent two aesthetic approaches can be reconciled to create work satisfactory to both parties.
Notions of composition as an inherently collaborative process are used to contextualise the means by which composer-composer collaborations might be understood. The authors reflect on an understanding of intradisciplinarity in the context of their practice as composers in order to draw conclusions that will allow them, and others, to approach composer-composer collaboration in an informed manner.
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