Macquarie University
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Self, Song, Other: identity at play in song

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posted on 2022-03-28, 13:23 authored by David Raymond Moore
This is a practitioner-based enquiry into the way original songwriting artists construct their public identity through songs. It views original songs as vehicles that introduce and sustain public impressions of original artists, and seeks to elicit the means by which songs perform this function. Based upon a portfolio of three commercial albums written and produced by the researcher, the thesis develops a model with which to anatomize those song variables with bearing on the public impression of the original artist. These high-profile projects provide the sites from which insights into the inner workings of creative practice emerge. Practitioner based enquiry places the professional in immersive situations, mobilising experiential knowledge to hone observational data. This methodology deploys the analytical autoethnography method for its ability to document professional situations so as to transform lived experience into theory with utility for both songwriters and scholars. Observational data witness key variables emerging in the constructions of identity within portfolio songs, and analysis is then structured by the principles of optimal distinctiveness theory (Brewer, 1991). This is the social identity theory that suggests individuals make social choices seeking a balance between drives to assimilate and drives to differentiate. This theory has also been adapted and utilised byproduct designers balancing typicality and novelty in consumer products. Optimal distinctiveness theory is adopted here to underpin a conceptual framework for understanding aspects of similarity and difference active in song, as well as assimilation and distinction in relation to peers, audience and gatekeepers. A model emerges of a range of creative choices negotiated by original artists seeking to communicate distinctive identities through songs in the Pop Rock genre. UK singer Carl Barât, and torch song balladeers CousteauX both achieved levels of prominence sufficient for industrially sourced data to triangulate both process observation and portfolio outcomes -- abstract.


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction and thesis outline -- Chapter Two: Literature review -- Chapter Three: Methodology -- Chapter Four: Conceptual framework -- Chapter Five: Portfolio -- Chapter Six: Similarity variables -- Chapter Seven: Difference variables -- Chapter Eight: Dimensions of optimality -- Chapter Nine: Conclusion -- References -- Links to portfolio songs -- Discography (portfolio) -- Discography (general).


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 157-170

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Julian Knowles


Copyright David Raymond Moore 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




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