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Title: Music: Pathways to Personal Meaning
Contributor(s): Foster, Dennis James (author); Hays, Terrence (supervisor); Alter, Frances  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2015
Copyright Date: 2014
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: This qualitative inquiry explores the content, processes, and social functions of personal meanings of specific pieces of music. The inquiry analyses the personal meanings adhering to 390 pieces of music selected by 79 adults aged between 30 and 78 years. An innovative aspect of the inquiry is that its data sample was not collected by the researcher but drawn from an archive of radio interviews conducted by a previous interviewer. Analysis and interpretation of these data was guided by the systematic methods of constructivist, grounded theory methodology. The inquiry reveals that the content of personal meanings of specific pieces of music aligns with meanings described in previous research. However, probing beneath the surface of such descriptions, this inquiry reveals a number of distinguishing characteristics of personal meanings. Firstly, personal meanings adhere to specific pieces of music. In this case, the sounds of a piece of music, its sonic materiality, matter. Secondly, personal meanings are not fixed but are dynamic, cumulative admixtures of multiple meanings. Thirdly, personal meanings adhere to pieces of music via a number of pathways which integrate aesthetic responses to the music, acquired knowledge about the music or its performance, and biographical associations into the ongoing story of informants' lives. Fourthly, personal meanings constitute social action simultaneously engaged in the reflexive project of self and ongoing reproduction of expectations and assumptions about the role of music in social life. The inquiry suggests that previously collected qualitative data can provide trustworthy samples for later research. It also highlights the need for scholars of music to reconsider the potential of subjective meanings as sites for investigating the human experience of music.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 399999 Other education not elsewhere classified
390305 Professional education and training
450299 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 930103 Learner Development
930102 Learner and Learning Processes
930199 Learner and Learning not elsewhere classified
Rights Statement: Copyright 2014 - Dennis James Foster
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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Appears in Collections:School of Education
Thesis Doctoral

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