By Myself but Not Alone. Agency, Creativity and Extended Musical Historicity

Andrea Schiavio*, Kevin Ryan, Nikki Moran, Dylan Van Der Schyff, Shaun Gallagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we offer a preliminary framework that highlights the relational nature of solo music-making, and its associated capacity to influence the constellation of habits and experiences one develops through acts of musicking. To do so, we introduce the notion of extended musical historicity and suggest that when novice and expert performers engage in individual musical practices, they often rely on an extended sense of agency which permeates their musical experience and shapes their creative outcomes. To support this view, we report on an exploratory, qualitative study conducted with novice and expert music performers. This was designed to elicit a range of responses, beliefs, experiences and meanings concerning the main categories of agency and creativity. Our data provide rich descriptions of solitary musical practices by both novice and expert performers, and reveal ways in which these experiences involve social contingencies that appear to generate or transform creative musical activity. We argue that recognition of the interactive components of individual musicking may shed new light on the cognition of solo and joint music performance, and should inspire the development of novel conceptual and empirical tools for future research and theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-556
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Royal Musical Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal Musical Association.

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Richard Parncutt for offering suggestions and comments on different aspects of this article. We wish to thank all participants who took part in the study. Andrea Schiavio acknowledges the support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), by which this research was funded (project number P32460). For the purposes of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. Shaun Gallagher is supported by an Australian Research Council grant to study Minds in Skilled Performance, project number DP170102987.

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