Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
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Sunday, May 19 • 11:00 - 11:30
Defining Creativity in Record Production: What the Authoritative, Well-Reasoned, Empirically Grounded Research into Creativity

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When many popular music researchers and record producers use the word ‘creativity’ in the context of their own research or in the recording studio, there appears to be a tendency for them to use this term, particularly in the West, as an unproblematic given. It is often conflated down to ‘artistic’ activity and often unthinkingly complies with Romanticist or Inspirationist cultural assumptions (Boden 2004, p. 14). As Keith Sawyer, the author of Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation (2006) has explained, ‘a scientific explanation of creativity requires us to look critically at our own cultural assumptions about how creativity works, and scientific studies of creativity fail to support our most cherished beliefs about creativity’ (2006, p. 33). If we, as researchers and practitioners, are to get at the truth of the matter, and then use that information to apply to our own activities as record producers, we need to rely less on cultural assumptions, historically generated discourses, myths and entrenched belief systems and look more closely at what the authoritative, well-reasoned, empirically grounded research into creativity is actually telling us about this phenomenon. As Beth Hennessey and Teresa Amabile state, most researchers looking specifically at the phenomenon of creativity now ‘agree that creativity involves the development of a novel product, idea, or problem solution that is of value to the individual and/or the larger social group’ (2010, p. 572). This paper sets out these ideas in relation to record production and argues for a rethink of the way creativity is commonly understood in this field.

Hennessey, B. & Amabile, T. (2010) ‘Creativity’, Annual Review of Psychology, 61, pp. 569–598. Boden, M. (2004) The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge).
Sawyer, K. (2006) Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


Phillip McIntyre

University of Newcastle