Reflections on Practice-led Research Methods and their Application in Music Performance Research


  • Jean Penny Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris


Practice-led research, music performance, research methods, higher education, artistic research


The inspiration for this report comes from moves that are taking place in Malaysian research, in particular an expansion of official acceptance of practice-led and based research methods by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia. Consequently, academics across the country are beginning to embrace approaches that have, from my personal observations, been previously unexplored and, indeed, often discouraged. Changes are afoot, however, as music performance and research departments are recognising the values as well as the creative and professional potentials of this research. While practice-led research has been increasing exponentially worldwide for decades now, some still struggle to define and support it because of its open and flexible nature, and the implicit questioning of standard research conventions, including the incorporation of creative and descriptive materials. I suggest here that this flexibility is precisely why it is a method that has great benefits for artistic application, and that the deepest knowledge of performance comes from within the practice itself and the insider/outsider perspectives that can be articulated through this method. In Developing a Method, I argue for a dialectic approach, connecting theory and praxis via the researcher/practitioner in the development of rigorous documentation, contextualisation, analysis and reflexivity. Of paramount importance is this connection of theory and practice, of innovation, of reflexivity and the interrogation of defined questions, ideas or concepts emerging from one’s own practice. In this article, I present some thoughts on what artistic practice-led research in performance might be, discuss applications and outcomes, ideas on theory and practice, and some performance research exemplars. The objective here is to articulate approaches and to provoke discussion of what has become a critical part of artistic academia.


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How to Cite

Penny, J. (2014). Reflections on Practice-led Research Methods and their Application in Music Performance Research. Malaysian Journal of Music, 3(2), 84–92. Retrieved from