Different roles for prepared and spontaneous thoughts: A practice-based study of musical performance from memory

Ginsborg, Jane and Chaffin, Roger and Demos, Alexander P (2014) Different roles for prepared and spontaneous thoughts: A practice-based study of musical performance from memory. journal of interdisciplinary music studies, 6 (2). pp. 201-231.

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Ginsborg, Chaffin & Demos 2012 Different roles for prepared and spontaneous thoughts (JIMS).pdf

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Background in music performance. During musical performance, experienced soloists have a mental map of the music in mind. Landmarks in this map remind them of where they are and what to do next. Background in music psychology. These performance cues (PCs) are prepared during practice so that they come to mind automatically, ensuring that the performance unfolds as planned. Aims. Do musicians use the same PCs in each performance? What other thoughts do they have during performance? Main contribution. To answer these questions, a singer (the first author) reported the thoughts she had as she practised Arnold Schoenberg’s two Songs, Op. 14 (1907-1908), and then again as she performed the songs in a public concert. Seventeen months later, she reconstructed the songs from memory, then performed them and reported her thoughts again. Comparison of the three sets of reports showed that slightly more than half of her thoughts in each of the two performances were PCs, i.e., had occurred during practice, and slightly less than half were spontaneous, new thoughts about the music or performance. The PCs were more stable over time: 17 (25%) occurred in both performances compared to only three (4%) of the spontaneous thoughts. Both PCs and spontaneous thoughts reflected the singer’s current concerns, but in different ways. When the singer performed the songs again after the reconstruction, her thoughts were shaped by the memory problems that she had experienced during the reconstruction that preceded the performance. She thought about the PCs that she had needed to stop at and about the new locations that she had just used as starting places. Implications. PCs are prepared during practice to provide the mental landmarks needed for a secure performance while spontaneous thoughts reflect more transitory experiences and insights.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Depositing User: Thomas Wise
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2021 11:44
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2021 11:44
URI: http://repository.rncm.ac.uk/id/eprint/111

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