Songwriting in adolescence : an ethnographic study in the Western Cape

Van Rensburg, Adriana Janse (2004-12)

Thesis (D. Phil.)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The main objective of this study is to describe the nature and function of adolescent songwriting phenomenologically to ascertain the implications for music education. Secondary aims and research questions include ascertaining if and to what extent songwriting in adolescence serves as medium for emotional expression, self-therapy, socio-cultural cohesion and informal learning. Other secondary research aims are establishing the quality of the creative product and determining the implications for music education curricula in keeping with current curriculum development strategies. Adolescents’ engagement in music is considered as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Individuals’ interaction with music is thus considered on Doise’s (1986:10-16) four levels of social explanation: the intra-personal, the interpersonal, the positional level and the ideological level. On the intra-personal level music is viewed as a technology of the self (DeNora, 2000), a medium for selftherapy and mood control and technology of the body. On the inter-personal level music is discussed as a form of self-expression serving as communicative form. On the positional level music’s role in bonding between individuals, namely social cohesion, is expounded. Lastly, on the ideological level, music is considered as part of youth, youth culture and cultural identity. The compositional (songwriting) process is analyzed. Compositional modes, individual and collaborative, are identified and described and the creative process namely composing, is delineated according to creativity, creativity as social formation, creativity as process and the role and nature of informal learning. Adolescents use the process of songwriting to establish and enhance social cohesion, to further communication and expression with peers and to exert creative and intellectual activity in an informal learning environment. The creative product, adolescents’ songs, is analyzed and described. General perspectives and theories about musical analysis are addressed to include a broader, socio-cultural view of analysis to analyze adolescent music. The musical and lyrical features are analyzed within the context of their socio-cultural setting. The SOLO Taxonomy (DeTurk, 1988) is adapted and applied to propose an evaluation procedure for the lyrics. Dunbar-Hall’s (1999) five methods of popular music analysis are applied in combination with Goodwin’s (1992) soundimage model, synaestesia, to expand on the socio-cultural context of popular music analysis. The implications of musicology namely “formal music education” versus popular music styles and the effects of formal and informal learning strategies on songwriting are considered. A new understanding of musical analysis namely “musical poetics” (Krims, 2000) is adopted and the role that locality plays in this analysis is expounded. The role of notation and playing by ear is set out to validate the adolescents’ creative product. The research methodology employed in this research include group discussion, observation, experience sampling method (adapted from Larson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1983) and individual interviews and are described according to methodology, results and analysis of the results. General perspectives on music education curricula are considered in light of the possible contribution songwriting, as an informal learning activity, could bring to music education as composition is currently a high priority in international music education discourse and features prominently in current curricula. Recommendations and conclusions are made.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hoofdoelstelling van hierdie studie is om die aard en funksie van liedjieskryf in adolessensie fenomenologies te beskryf om sodoende die implikasies vir musiekopvoedkunde te bepaal. Sekondêre doelstellings en navorsingsvrae sluit in die vasstelling van of en hoe liedjieskryf in adolessensie dien as medium vir emosionele ekspressie, self-terapie, sosio-kulturele binding en informele leer. Ander sekondêre navorsingsvrae sluit in die bepaling van die kwaliteit van die kreatiewe produk en die implikasies vir musiekopvoedkunde kurrikula met inagneming van huidige kurrikulumontwikkeling strategieë. Adolessente se interaksie met musiek word beskryf as ‘n sosio-kulturele fenomeen. Individue se interaksie met musiek word dus ontleed volgens Doise (1986:10-16) se vier vlakke van sosiale verduideliking: die intra-persoonlike, die inter-persoonlike, die posisionele en die ideologiese vlak. Op die intrapersoonlike vlak word musiek beskou as ‘n tegnologie van die self (DeNora, 2000), d.w.s as ‘n medium vir self-terapie en stemmingsbeheer asook as ‘n tegnologie van die liggaam. Op die inter-persoonlike vlak word musiek bespreek as ‘n vorm van self-ekspressie wat dien as kommunikatiewe vorm. Op die posisionele vlak word musiek se rol in die binding tussen individue, d.w.s. sosiale binding, beskryf. Laastens, op die ideologiese vlak, word musiek oorweeg as deel van jeug, jeugkultuur en kulturele identiteit. Die komposisionele (liedjieskryf) proses word geanalisser. Komposisionele metodes, individueel en gemeenskaplik, word geïdentifiseer en beskryf en die kreatiewe proses, naamlik komposisie, word gedelinieer volgens kreatiwiteit, kreatiwiteit as sosiale formasie, kreatiwiteit as proses en die rol en aard van informele leer. Adolessente gebruik die proses van liedjieskryf om sosiale binding te vestig en te bevorder, om kommunikasie en ekspressie met die portuurgroep te bevorder en om kreatiewe en intellektuele aktiwitiet in ‘n informele leeromgewing uit te oefen. Die kreatiewe produk, adolessente liedjies, word geanaliseer en beskryf. Algemene musiekanalitiese perspektiewe en teorieë word aangespreek om ‘n breër, sosio-kulturele uitkyk op analise in te sluit. Die musikale en liriese eienskappe word geanaliseer binne ‘n sosio-kulturele konteks. Die SOLO Taksonomie (DeTurk, 1988) word aangepas en toegepas om ‘n evaluasie prosedure vir die lirieke voor te stel. Dunbar-Hall (1999) se vyf metodes van populêre musiekanalise word toegepas in kombinasie met Goodwin (1992) se klankbeeld model, synaestesia, om uit te brei op die sosio-kulturele konteks van populêre musiekanalise. Die implikasies van musikologie, “formele musiekopvoedkunde” versus populêre musiek en die effek van formele en informele leerstrategieë op liedjieskryf word oorweeg. ‘n Nuwe begrip van musikale analise, naamlik “musikale poëtika” (Krims, 2000) word aangeneem en die rol van lokaliteit in analise word verduidelik. Die rol van notasie en op gehoor speel word aangespreek om adolessente se kreatiewe produk te regverdig. Die navorsingsmetodologie toegepas in hierdie navorsing sluit in groepsbespreking, observasie, ondervinding-steekproef metode (aangepas van Larson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1983) en individuele onderhoude en word beskryf volgens metodologie, resultate en die analise van die resultate. Aangesien komposisie tans hoë prioriteit in internasionale debat geniet en prominent geplaas is in huidige musiekopvoedkunde kurrikula word algemene perspektiewe op musiekopvoedkunde kurrikula oorweeg in die lig van die moontlike bydrae wat liedjieskryf as informele leeraktiwiteit aan musiekopvoedkunde kan bring.

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