Conflict in collaborative musical composition: a case study

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Hill, M, Hill, B & Walsh, R in press, 'Conflict in collaborative musical composition: a case study', Psychology of Music.

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In collaborative musical composition, such as those used frequently in popular music styles, conflicts between band members are commonplace. This article seeks to examine how task-based and interpersonal conflicts between band members impact on the creation of collaborative compositions, utilising a case study of a band composing music for an album recording. This paper reports on research that tracks the process of the creation of songs for a fourth album recording by a three-piece ensemble who have worked together since 1999. The composition process is marked by numerous disputes and arguments among the band personnel and the interactions between the band members move fluidly between phases of instruction, cooperation, collaboration and conflict. The authors (also the band’s members) analyse video and audio recordings of rehearsals, making observations based in grounded theory in relation to verbal and nonverbal interactions and offering personal reflections on these interactions. Drawing on theoretical perspectives in relation to communication, conflict and group dynamics such as group flow and empathetic creativity, individual and group behaviour are examined with emphasis on the impact of such behaviour on the collaborative process.

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