Cold Bath Street Project

Partridge, Simon Benjamin orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7712-9940 (2016) Cold Bath Street Project. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

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Artist’s Statement
The Cold Bath Street Project undertakes research in the field of group music improvisation by means of reflective practice. The significance of this project lies its decentring of the traditional concerns of music theory, technique and genre convention in favour of enquiries into the functionality of the ensemble’s shared creativity with its dynamics of interaction, shifting hierarchies and the complex role of the director-researcher conducted from within the practice and largely via the language of music. The research outputs are intended to be of value to musicians, academics in the field of music and music educators across the whole range of experience levels.

A practice-based methodology is employed; the extended period spent working with a single group giving opportunity to study the developing qualities of improvisational practice over time, identifying and addressing the group’s subjective needs. This project draws on Nachmanovitch (1990 & 2019) in its premise that successful improvisation will not be achieved solely by learning extensive vocabulary on a given instrument and on the work of Borgo (2007) and Cobussen (2014) in centrally considering the ecology of the improvisational group environment. Pivotal to the project has been developing strategies to engender an environment of heightened awareness and of active listening in which what Csikszentmihalyi (1990) defines as ‘flow state’ wherein new ideas can be formed, sustained and developed. Interdisciplinary collaborations with poets, dancers, visual artists and film makers are used to seek new ways to interact, stimulate ideas and produce form collaboratively. Practice runs in parallel with reflection, player interviews and contextual study, all of which then feed back into the devising of interventions for subsequent sessions.

The project outputs include over 30 public performances, 3 album releases, conference paper, presentations and practical workshops.

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