Processes and Experiences of Creative Cognition in Seven Western Classical Composers

Andrea Schiavio, Nikki Moran, Dylan van der Schyff, Michele Biasutti, Richard Parncutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a qualitative study, we explored the range of reflections and experiences involved in the composition of score-based music by administering a 15-item, open-ended, questionnaire to seven professional composers from Europe and North America. Adopting a grounded theory approach, we organized six different codes emerging from our data into two higher-order categories ( the act of composing and establishing relationships). Our content analysis, inspired by the theoretical resources of 4E cognitive science, points to three overlapping characteristics of creative cognition in music composition: it is largely exploratory, it is grounded in bodily experience, and it emerges from the recursive dialogue of agents and their environment. More generally, such preliminary findings suggest that musical creativity may be advantageously understood as a process of constant adaptation - one in which composers enact their musical styles and identities by exploring novel interactivities hidden in their contingent and historical milieux.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-325
Number of pages23
JournalMusicae scientiae
Issue number2
Early online date8 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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© The Author(s) 2020.

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