University of Limerick
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Unearthing the artist: An arts practice research investigation into the impact of Dalcroze Eurhythmics on the practice of a classically trained professional violinist

posted on 2022-10-18, 15:25 authored by Diane DalyDiane Daly
This research explores the role and value of improvisation and expressive creativity in Western classical music professional training and practice, through an arts practice investigation by a classically trained professional violinist. In doing so, it seeks to articulate strategies towards a more embodied, holistic musical experience. The research uses the philosophy and methods of Émile-Jaques Dalcroze (E.J.-D.) as a framework to excavate the multiple layers of the researcher’s own arts practice and investigate whether there is wider potential resonance for other professional performers. In the course of the research journey, a variety of connections and disconnections are explored, including the sometimes competing dualisms of mind/body, technique/ expression, performer/pedagogue, practice/performance, sound source/embodied presence, and performer/audience. It seeks to connect cognitive, emotional, physical, and artistic faculties that Western classical music performance practice frequently separates. The key themes that emerged from this research were creativity, autonomy and embodied presence. The research utilises a mixed-mode approach, combining artistic practice with a number of documenting strategies for capturing expressive performance. It makes particular use of autoethnographic and arts-based methods as tools of documentation and reflection. Two key milestones along the arts practice research path included two major performances, devised and developed as part of the research. The first performance investigated ways of connecting with and communicating a piece of music from the solo violinist’s canon in an embodied manner. The second performance explored the devising and production of an original work, incorporating elements far from the classical musician’s standard terrain, such as autobiographical, improvisatory, multimedia, and movement aspects. The research proposes a number of key findings concerning autonomy and freedom; creativity and improvisation and embodied presence within the Western classical music culture. Its processes of excavation attempt to unearth the holistic artist within the performing musician.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Phelan, Helen Frances

Second supervisor

Southcott, Jane

Third supervisor

Ó Súilleabháin, Mícheál


peer-reviewed For video clips association with this thesis please contact



Department or School

  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance

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