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Mastering Chaos: The Musicians Way

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Our Question

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Our Answer

In attempting to answer our question we realised that we could make this all seem very complicated. We became aware however that the only real issue with complexity was the way we might choose to answer our question.

Below is an explanation of the academic methodology which we employed. Whilst an academically rigorous approach to the research is necessary at the very least for credibility, it becomes obvious that academic language will not get the message across to busy people who want to understand how it might work on a very practical level.

So by all means read on but be assured, the rest of the site is far more inviting.
The Scientific Approach: Autoethnographic Methodology & Aesthetic Reflexivity

Underpinning the Mastering Chaos: The Musicians Way is the autoethnographic research method.  


Autoethnography is a method of research which combines autobiography and ethnography. In essence the autoethnographic process places the writer's own personal experiences very much front and centre. Other methods of research purposefully remove the researcher from the project where, at most, they are a 'third party' in the paper. The autoethnographic approach is the opposite. Originally, scientific research methodology was developed to ensure objectivity. A theory could be tested by setting up experiments to extract data and make comparisons between, for example, a placebo group and the group being tested to establish the validity of the theory. Removal of the subjective is one of the key elements of such a process. There are however many areas of study which don't easily lend themselves to this kind of approach. They are nevertheless worthy of deeper understanding and careful explanation. Autoethnography, this autobiographical and personal method, allows such areas as cultural, social and political subjects to be thoroughly investigated by means of research, writing, story and even video.

Aesthetic reflexivity is a term coined by sociologist Scott Lash to describe a mode of aesthetic production and reception that is self-aware and self-critical. It is characterised by a focus on the processes of representation and meaning-making, and a willingness to question the conventions and assumptions of art and culture.

Aesthetic reflexivity can be seen in a variety of artistic and cultural forms, from postmodernist literature and film to conceptual art and performance art. In these forms, the artist or performer often draws attention to the constructed nature of their work, and invites the audience to reflect on the ways in which meaning is produced and consumed.

Aesthetic reflexivity can be seen as a response to the increasing complexity and uncertainty of the modern world. In a world where traditional values and beliefs are no longer taken for granted, aesthetic reflexivity offers a way of making sense of the world through art and culture. It can help us to understand the ways in which we construct our own identities and worldviews, and to question the assumptions that we take for granted.

Aesthetic reflexivity is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, and there is no single definition that can capture all of its nuances. However, it is a significant and influential trend in contemporary art and culture, and it continues to offer new ways of understanding the world and ourselves.

Here are some of the key characteristics of aesthetic reflexivity:

  • A focus on the processes of representation and meaning-making.

  • A willingness to question the conventions and assumptions of art and culture.

  • A self-aware and self-critical stance.

  • A concern with the relationship between art and the viewer/audience.

  • A use of irony, parody, and pastiche to explore the nature of reality.

Aesthetic reflexivity and the autoenthographic approach to research

There are a number of ways in which aesthetic reflexivity can correlate with the autoethnographic approach to research. For example, autoethnographers may use aesthetic reflexivity to:

  • Explore the role of their own emotions and experiences in the research process. This can help them to understand how their own personal biases and assumptions may be influencing their interpretations of data.

  • Use creative writing techniques to represent their experiences in a way that is both evocative and analytical. This can help them to communicate their findings in a way that is both engaging and insightful.

  • Consider the ethical implications of using their own personal experiences in research. This can help them to ensure that they are respectful of the privacy of others and that they are not exploiting their own experiences for personal gain.


As a qualitative research method, autoethnography is a powerful tool for exploring the complex and often messy relationships between our own lives and the cultures we are studying. Aesthetic reflexivity can help us to be more aware of our own biases and assumptions, and it can help us to communicate our findings in a way that is both engaging and insightful.

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