Motivation Theory and Music and Culture

I am just now watching a video re Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory, within a symposium at the ICMPC11, as contextualised within cultures other than the western art context. Fascinating so far. Typically, in a conference such as this, QUANT research is in pole position, and QUAL research is treated as a little bit suspect. And, considering a comment from an audience member, a lot suspect here today. ICMPC is all about music perception and cognition, and to the people here, this perception and cognition means doing a whole lot of research based on scientific principles of generalisability, replicability and validity. Apart from feeling more than ever that QUAL is great, but that QUAN has some excellent methods to look at, I am bemused by the extremes of positions that some researchers take.

For example, EMR, Empirical Musicological Review states clearly that: “Empirical Musicology Review publishes original research articles, commentaries, editorials, book reviews, interviews, letters, and data sets. Suitable topics include music history, performance, theory, education, and composition — with an emphasis on systematic methods, such as hypothesis-testing, modeling, and controlled observation. Submissions pertaining to social, political, cultural and economic phenomena are welcome. Theoretical and speculative articles are welcome provided they contribute to the forming of empirically testable hypotheses, models or theories, or they provide critiques of methodology.”

Now, I have no real problem with this journal, per se. It clearly states the type of research it focuses on, which is quantitative. Yet, at the same time, it welcomes articles pertaining to social, political, cultural and economic phenomena. And they think these phenomena can be quantified? Hilarious.

I was in a presentation by an Australian colleague as my last seminar before departing. It was so funny, as we were asked to take part in a little experiment. The excitement and engagement it caused amongst these “scientists” took them immediately out of their usual analytical tone and got them actively considering, in a real world setting, how one’s perceptions about singing are shaped. An interesting social experiment.

Now, it’s time to get on the plane.


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