Contemporary performance practice of art music in South Africa : a practice-based research enquiry

Stolp, Mareli (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this dissertation, I examine contemporary South African art music performance practice and the social function it fulfils. Performance practice is understood in this study to mean an art practice or cultural item constituted by three types of 'role-players': performers of art music, composers of works in the art music genre and audiences that assimilate and respond to these works when performed. My own position as a performing artist in South Africa has suggested most of the research questions and problems dealt with in this dissertation, which was approached as a practice-based research study. Practice-based research, an emergent kind of research which aims at integrating practical and scholarly work, is becoming increasingly prevalent in academe internationally, although the present study is one of the first examples of such an approach in South Africa. Drawing on contemporary interpretations of the theories of phenomenology articulated by Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, my position as a performer of art music in South Africa and the personal experiences I have had as a practitioner within this art practice are interrogated. While I was involved in a variety of practical engagements during the course of this study, all of which have contributed on some level to the final research product, the research design comprised five 'performance projects' that were designed to interrogate specific issues in contemporary art music performance practice in South Africa. The knowledge gained through these performance projects are presented together with theoretical work in this dissertation. An attempt is made to explicate these subjective experiences gained through practice and interrogate them through the application of social theory, ultimately translating them into an objective research outcome which is presented discursively. In this sense, the research project is approached according to a two-pronged strategy: subjective experiences generated through practice are examined through the use of social theory, ultimately resulting in a discursively articulated research outcome. I suggest in this dissertation that art music practice in contemporary South Africa has been and has remained a cultural territory largely inhabited by white South Africans. I further argue that this practice has shown little transformation since the end of apartheid in South Africa, in spite of the political, social and cultural transformation that has characterized the country since the beginning of democracy in 1994. Drawing on the theories of Homi Bhabha and Regula Qureshi, I posit that contemporary art music performance practice is providing an ideological counter-environment to predominant socio-cultural realities in post-apartheid South Africa. Qureshi suggests that the art music practice of a society 'constitutes a meaningful, cultural world for those who inhabit it'(Qureshi 2000: 26). Such a 'world within a society' is here interpreted as providing a counter-environment within which white South African identity can be articulated, negotiated and propagated.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie proefskrif ondersoek ek die uitvoeringspraktyk van kontemporêre kunsmusiek in Suid-Afrika en die sosiale funksie wat dit vervul. Uitvoeringspraktyk word in hierdie studie geïnterpreteer as ‘n kunspraktyk of kulturele item wat uit drie 'rol-spelers' bestaan: uitvoerders van kunsmusiek, komponiste van werke in die kunsmusiek genre en gehore wat kunsmusiek assimileer en daarop reageer wanneer hierdie werke uitgevoer word. My eie posisie as uitvoerende kunstenaar het gelei tot die navorsingsvrae en navorsingsprobleme wat hierdie studie informeer. As sulks neem hierdie studie die vorm aan van ‘n praktyk-gebasseerde navorsingsstudie. Praktyk-gebasseerde navorsing is ‘n ontwikkelende soort navorsing wat internasionaal toenemend beoefen word. Hierdie studie is een van die eerste Suid-Afrikaanse voorbeelde van hierdie tipe navorsing in musiek. Die fenomenologiese teorieë van Edmund Husserl en Maurice Merleau-Ponty is gebruik om my persoonlike ervarings as uitvoerder van oorwegend kunsmusiek in Suid-Afrika te kontekstualiseer. My betrokkenheid by verskeie praktiese projekte gedurende die studietydperk, sowel as vyf praktiese projekte wat spesifiek vir die doeleindes van hierdie studie onderneem is, het deurgaans die studie geïnformeer. Hierdie projekte is aangepak om die bestudering van spesifieke aspekte van Suid-Afrikaanse uitvoeringspraktyk van kunsmusiek te fasiliteer. Die kennis wat deur middel van die praktiese werk ingewin is, is deurgaans in hierdie proefskrif met teoretiese werk versterk. Daar is gepoog om die subjektiewe ervarings van die uitvoerder aan te vul deur die toepassing van sosiale toerie, met die uiteindelike doel om hierdie ervarings in ‘n objektiewe en diskursief-artikuleerbare navorsingsresultaat te omskep. Die navorsing in hierdie proefskrif volg dus ‘n tweeledige benadering: subjektiewe, persoonlike ervarings wat deur praktyk gegenereer word, word deur middel van sosiale teorie benader, wat lei tot die uiteindelike navorsingsresultaat soos in die proefskrif aangebied. Ek stel dit in hierdie proefskrif dat kunsmusiekpraktyk in kontemporêre Suid-Afrika min bewyse van transformasie toon, ten spyte van die veranderende politiese- en sosio-kulturele omstandighede in Suid-Afrika sedert 1994. Dié praktyk word steeds gekenmerk deur deelname en ondersteuning vanuit die wit bevolkingsgroep. Die teorieë van Homi Bhabha en Regula Qureshi word gebruik om die argument te onderskryf dat kontemporêre kunsusiekpraktyk ‘n omgewing skep wat dien as ideologiese teenpool vir die sosio-kulturele realiteite van Suid-Afrika vandag. Qureshi is van mening dat ‘n gemeenskap se kunsmusiekpraktyk ‘n 'betekenisvolle, kulturele wereld skep vir die wat dit bewoon' (Qureshi 2000: 26). Hierdie 'wereld binne ‘n gemeenskap' word in hierdie proefskrif vertolk as ‘n 'ideologiese teen-omgewing' waarvandaan wit Suid-Afrikaanse identiteit geartikuleer, onderhandel en bevorder kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/99001
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