By Myself but Not Alone. Agency, Creativity and Extended Musical Historicity

Publication Name

Journal of the Royal Musical Association


In this paper we offer a preliminary framework that highlights the relational nature of solo music-making, and its associated capacity to influence the constellation of habits and experiences one develops through acts of musicking. To do so, we introduce the notion of extended musical historicity and suggest that when novice and expert performers engage in individual musical practices, they often rely on an extended sense of agency which permeates their musical experience and shapes their creative outcomes. To support this view, we report on an exploratory, qualitative study conducted with novice and expert music performers. This was designed to elicit a range of responses, beliefs, experiences and meanings concerning the main categories of agency and creativity. Our data provide rich descriptions of solitary musical practices by both novice and expert performers, and reveal ways in which these experiences involve social contingencies that appear to generate or transform creative musical activity. We argue that recognition of the interactive components of individual musicking may shed new light on the cognition of solo and joint music performance, and should inspire the development of novel conceptual and empirical tools for future research and theory.

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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



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