Like a Rolling Stone: Moving Toward Methodologies for Analysis of Multimodal Musical Performance
Burgess, Andrew D. (Andrew David) (author)
Fleckenstein, Kristie S. (professor directing dissertation)
Houck, Davis W. (university representative)
Yancey, Kathleen Blake, 1950- (committee member)
Neal, Michael R. (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Arts and Sciences (degree granting college)
Department of English (degree granting department)
As a means for understanding a wide range of multimodal phenomena, multimodal analysis poses methodological challenges for the novice researcher intent on investigating multimodal communication, especially communication that involves multimodal musical performance (MMP), an understudied communicative act. As a response to these challenges, this project examines three approaches to multimodal analysis identified by Carey Jewitt in The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis as central to studying multimodality writ large: social-semiotic multimodal analysis (SSMA), multimodal discourse analysis (MDA), and multimodal interactional analysis (MIA). However, while these approaches each provide a theory and key concepts for analysis, they lack a practicable methodology—necessary for the novice research—and, thus, provide no concrete way to pursue multimodal analysis or to assess the strengths and deficits of a particular approach when applied to the analysis of MMPs. In this project, I conduct a critical analysis that includes a theoretical and pragmatic examination of these approaches to multimodal analysis and assess them for strengths and deficits in terms of a particular MMP because such a performance is an important and under-explored variety of multimodal text. Thus, this project asks three questions of each approach and its methods: 1) What are the strengths of each approach to multimodal analysis of musical performance as multimodal communication? 2) What are the deficits of each approach to multimodal analysis of musical performance as multimodal communication? 3) And, finally, given the strengths and deficits of competing approaches to multimodal analysis of musical performance as multimodal communication, what do we need moving forward in order to fully, robustly, and capaciously analyze and understand musical performance as multimodal communication? I respond to these questions by devising a synthesized, practicable methodology for each approach, one derived from the work in key chapters in The Routledge Handbook identified by Jewitt as employing a specific approach. I apply each of these methodologies to a single musical performance: video footage from Bob Dylan’s July 25, 1965 performance at the Newport Folk Festival—which is often seen as a pivotal moment in popular music history—collected on the 2011 blu-ray release of Murray Lerner’s concert film The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live At Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965. I assess the results of my application of each methodology and its methods to determine the strengths and deficits of each approach for analyzing MMPs. Finally, I offer two options to bolster strengths and address deficits of these three approaches to the multimodal analysis of MMPs, one crafted from combining approaches, and one crafted from a new perspective—that of sonic imaginations (Sterne)—thus informing methodology with attention to the sonic aspects of MMPs. This dissertation offers three key results important for the novice researcher. First, it provides a practicable methodology for each approach, a necessary step in the process of assessing an approach's strengths and deficits. Second, it offers the novice researcher insight into each methodology’s potential. For instance, analyses indicated that SSMA possesses, among its five strengths, a focus on the sign-maker, while at the same time, it possesses, among its three deficits, no mechanism through which to consider the multiple sign-makers involved in an MMP. Similarly, MDA possesses, among its six strengths, a focus on the multimodal phenomenon, while at the same time, it possesses, among its four deficits, a lack of a systematic means for delineating levels of discourse. And, MDA possesses, among its five strengths, a focus on interaction between social actors involved in an MMP, while at the same time, it possesses, among its five deficits, a requirement for a considerable amount of guesswork on the part of the researcher. Third, while demonstrating that no approach to multimodal analysis offers a “best” methodology for the analysis of MMPs, this dissertation offers two directions for methodological inspiration. It concludes that, through a deliberate courting of emotion by tapping into elements of music criticism and through a deliberate courting of messiness by embracing the union of emotion and analysis, methodologies for analysis can be crafted that align with the demands of MMPs.
Composition, Methodologies, Multimodal Analysis, Music, Musical Performance, Sound Studies
October 25, 2017.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Kristie Fleckenstein, Professor Directing Dissertation; Davis Houck, University Representative; Kathleen Blake Yancey, Committee Member; Michael Neal, Committee Member.
Florida State University