Music Autoethnographies: Making Autoethnography Sing / Making Music Personal

Edited by Brydie-Leigh Bartleet and Carolyn Ellis

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and University of South Florida

Autoethnography is an autobiographical genre that connects the personal to the cultural, social, and political. Usually written in the first-person voice, autoethnographic work appears in a variety of creative formats; for example, short stories, music compositions, poetry, photographic essays, and reflective journals. Music Autoethnographies explores an intersection of autoethnographic approaches with studies of music. Written through the eyes, ears, emotions, experiences and stories of music and autoethnography practitioners, this edited collection showcases how autoethnography can expand musicians' awareness of their practices, and how musicians can expand the creative and artistic possibilities of autoethnography. The chapters in this ground-breaking volume stand independently as "musical lines" within themselves, and represent a diverse range of creative, performative, pedagogical and research contexts. When read together, they form a "harmonious counterpoint," with common themes and contours, as well as contrasting rhythms and textures. Together these chapters produce a compelling story that shows how music can inspire autoethnography to sing, and how autoethnography can inspire musicians to reflect on the personal aspects of music creation and production.

About the Author

Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, PhD, is a Lecturer in Research and Music Literature at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. For the past two years, she has worked on the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre ARC funded project, Sound Links: Community Music in Australia. She has also worked as a sessional Lecturer at the University of Queensland, and as a freelance conductor has worked with ensembles from Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan. She has published widely on issues relating to community music, women conductors, peer-learning in conducting and feminist pedagogy, and is currently co-editing two music-related books - Musical Islands: Exploring Connections Between Music, Place and Research; and Navigating Sound and Music Education. She is also on the editorial board for the International Journal of Community Music.
Carolyn Ellis is Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of South Florida. She has published four books - Fisher Folk: Two Communities on Chesapeake Bay; Final Negotiations: A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness; The Ethnographic I: A Methodological Novel about Autoethnography, and Revision: Autoethnographic Reflections on Life and Work - four edited collections, and numerous articles and stories. With Arthur Bochner, she co-edits the book series, Writing Lives: Ethnographic Narratives. Her work is situated in interpretive and artistic representations of qualitative research and focuses on autoethnographic stories as a means to understand and interpret culture and live a meaningful life. She enjoys dancing, hiking, gardening, and listening to music; her actual musical talents are minimal.

About the Editors

Edited by Brydie-Leigh Bartleet and Carolyn Ellis


"Words and music shape our identities and fill our lives. Sometimes the experiences are inspirational, sometimes they remind us of our past or ask us to imagine a better one, and sometimes they are the most important clues we have to who we really are, who we may become, and even who we must be to live fully, honestly, authentically. So it is that this insightful and delightful volume gives voice to words and music in stories that teach us about the personal experiences of composing, improvising, interpreting, performing, learning, teaching, and researching music and musicianship from the perspective of individuals who have devoted lifetimes to those challenges. This is a highly worthwhile undertaking and makes a new and valuable contribution to what it means to acquire the knowledge, the skills, and to fashion the always complex and often conflicted identity of a musician."
-- Professor H. L. Goodall, Jr.
Professor of Communication, Arizona State University and
Author of Living in the Rock n Roll Mystery: Reading Context, Self, and Others as Clues

"This is an exceptional book. It provides impressive exemplars of the role of personal narrative in research and writing. Blending rigorous scholarship with richly layered exquisite accounts of music making, this book both describes and illustrates an exemplary range of strategies and approaches to building writer stance and authorial voice in carrying out autoethnographies. This will be an invaluable reference for students and researchers journeying into the field of music research. It is an important addition to the literature associated with research methods, contemporary forms of qualitative research, and the processes, rhetorical devices and other genre choices for reporting research."
-- Dr Pamela Burnard,
Senior Lecturer in Music Education, University of Cambridge and
Co-editor of Reflective Practices in Arts Education and the British Journal of Music Education

Table of Contents

  • About the Authors
  • Introduction
  • Making Autoethnography Sing / Making Music Personal
  • Brydie-Leigh Bartleet and Carolyn Ellis
  • Section One
  • Composing and Improvising
  • Chapter 1
  • Songwriting and the Creation of Knowledge
  • David Carless and Kitrina Douglas
  • Chapter 2
  • Beautiful Here: Celebrating Life, Alternative Music,
  • Adolescence and Autoethnography
  • Karen M. Scott-Hoy
  • Chapter 3
  • Musical Artefacts of My Father's Death:
  • Autoethnography, Music, and Aesthetic Representation
  • Chris J. Patti
  • Chapter 4
  • Creativity and Improvisation: A Journey into Music
  • Peter Knight
  • Section Two
  • Interpreting and Performing
  • Chapter 5
  • Bye Bye Love
  • Stacy Holman Jones
  • Chapter 6
  • Evoking Spring in Winter: Some Personal Reflections on Returning to Schubert's Cycle
  • Stephen Emmerson
  • Chapter 7
  • Letting it Go: An Autoethnographic Account of a Musician's Loss
  • Catherine Grant
  • Chapter 8
  • Becoming a Bass Player: Embodiment in Music Performance
  • Chris McRae
  • Section Three
  • Learning and Teaching
  • Chapter 9
  • Studying Music, Studying the Self: Reflections on Learning Music in Bali
  • Peter Dunbar-Hall
  • Chapter 10
  • The Road to Becoming a Musician: An Individual Chinese Story
  • Wang Yuyan
  • Chapter 11
  • "Where Was I When I Needed Me?"
  • The Role of Storytelling in Vocal Pedagogy Margaret Schindler
  • Section Four
  • Researching Identity and Cross-Cultural Contexts
  • Chapter 12
  • From Ca Tru to the World: Understanding and Facilitating Musical Sustainability
  • Huib Schippers
  • Chapter 13
  • Looking into the Trochus Shell: Autoethnographic Reflections on a Cross-Cultural Collaborative Music Research Project
  • Katelyn Barney and Lexine Solomon
  • Chapter 14
  • In Memory of Music Research: An Autoethnographic, Ethnomusicological and Emotional Response to Grief,
  • Death and Loss in the Aboriginal Community at Borroloola, Northern Territory
  • Text and images by Elizabeth Mackinlay
  • Chapter 15
  • A Way of Loving, A Way of Knowing: Music, Sexuality and the Becoming of a Queer Musicologist
  • Jodie Taylor
  • Chapter 16
  • In Music and in Life: Confronting the Self Through Autoethnography
  • Colin Webber