A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

Methodology II

This blog seeks to incorporate diverse materials from published and unpublished sources, alongside opinion, anecdote, analysis, and music to ‘compose’ an account of the WCSSs. My understanding of this notion of ‘composition’ derives from two sources. Firstly (and my first encounter with it as an idea that made sense), from an (unpublished) interview between Michael Hall and David Lumsdaine in which Lumsdaine used the term to describe what the listener does in making sense of a performance, drawing ‘resonances’ of other moments in the music, other musics, and much else besides.

Secondly, from Christopher Kelty’s collaborative article, ‘Collaboration, Coordination, and Composition: Fieldwork after the Internet’ (click for the full text of this chapter):

We say ‘composition’ here because it is more inclusive than ‘writing’ (paintings, musical works, and software all need to be composed, as poetry and novels do). Writing implies the textual and narrative organization of language – still a difficult enough problem of composition, and still the gold standard; but it leaves out the composition of images and sounds, or especially how other kinds of objects are composed as part of the ethnographic project: documents, statistics, forms, legal documents, unpublished works, audio transcripts, blog-entries, and so on. (Kelty, Christopher (2009), ‘Collaboration, Coordination, and Composition: Fieldwork after the Internet’ Fieldwork is not what it used to be: Learning Anthropology’s Method in a Time of Transition (Ithica: Cornell University Press), 186.)

The creative aspect of the process research that this notion of ‘composition’ opens up connects richly to the design-studio-based work in some architectural practices. Kelty is clear about the innovative aspect of this conception of research:

[…] experimenting with new modes of composition that can give specialist and generalist colleagues alike quick synoptic overviews [such as facilitated by the tags on this post] of research materials and problems and trajectories without sacrificing the scholarly detail and individual virtuosity that has come to be valued in the discipline. […] composition is a practice that crosses between writing understood as an artful craft and research understood as conceptual innovation. (187)

This is the innovation consanguineous with Patrick Schumacher’s assertion that ‘styles are design research paradigms.’ The details of this are lucidly explained by Schumacher (who runs Zaha Hadid’s studio) in his Parametricist Manifesto, which is found here:


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