(Contribution to Round Table at the conference “Old is New: The Presence of the Past in the Music of the Present”, CESEM, Universidade Nova, Lisbon, 24-26 November 2016)
I have been following the debate on this subject since it first emerged, and have changed positions several times in relation to it. My initial reaction was very strongly that, “no, composition is not research, it's composition.” I see that kind of reaction too in Piers Hellawell's video on Youtube (see links below), which some of you may have seen, and his article, entitled “Treating Composers as Researchers is Bonkers”. My second reaction was, “well, it's research in a way, insofar as I discover things while writing a piece, or experiment with a particular combination of timbres, or make a huge advance in electroacoustics, etc.”. My third reaction was, “Should I care? If somebody thinks it's research, then who am I to argue?”. My fourth was a mixture of all these things complicated by the fact that composition as research has become, in the interim, an established fact in the Academy.