Research-Creation in Music as an Interdiscipline: From Definition to Action

Serge Lacasse, Sophie Stévance

music faculty, Laval university, Canada


The advent of artistic disciplines in North American universities in the early 1970s profoundly questioned the primacy of the scientific model (particularly the scientific method) recently adopted by the humanities and the social sciences. Without rejecting this scientific model altogether, the development of artistic disciplines has exposed ontological questioning, semiological systems and disciplinary practices to novel scientific procedures and new vocabularies. At the same time, it led to progressively adapting and assimilating certain characteristics of the scientific model and its general “method.”

It is following this integration into the university ecosystem that the concept of “researchcreation” emerged. Appearing in Canadian universities in the 1980s, it can be described as the artefactual disciplinary counterpart to the scientific model and method in the context of the knowledge of higher learning. At the same time this integration of the arts at the university level occurred, new problems have gradually emerged and are multiplying in the field of contemporary reality, calling for epistemological flexibility that is at the very center of research-creation, its artefactual and scientific being. Accordingly, we have proposed the following definition of “research-creation”: “Research-creation is understood as an approach applied to an individual or multiple-agent project combining research methods and creative practices within a dynamic frame of causal interaction (that is, each having a direct influence on the other), and leading to both scholarly and artefactual productions (be they artistic or otherwise)” (Stévance and Lacasse, 2018, p. 123).

Approached from this point of view, research-creation in music can be considered a true interdisciplinary approach where individuals may actively collaborate using an integrated approach combining theories and methods from their respective disciplines with the goal of mutual enrichment and enhancement. What conditions are needed to build a coherent research-creation project in music? How can spaces of dialogue, collaboration and interaction—represented by the hyphen that forges the expression “research-creation” (Stévance and Lacasse, 2013)—be put in place, particularly in music? This paper therefore proposes to discuss this transversal space, the ecosophical interaction aiming to share unique experiences (creation), and to measure, describe and understand the entanglement of the relations that all the participants, researchers and creators weave together (research). We thus hope to offer an open and fruitful space of reflection around this intimate encounter between research and creation illustrated by examples of actual researchcreation projects.

Keywords: Research-Creation, Music



Titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en recherche-création, Sophie Stévance s’intéresse à la nature fondamentalement interdisciplinaire et collaborative de la recherche-création dans le cadre de projets réunissant chercheurs et praticiens en art, tant du milieu universitaire que professionnel. Sa programmation de recherche s’articule autour de quatre axes: Mieux définir la recherche-création et ses variations; cultiver, analyser et déterminer les différents modes d’interaction entres les agents; favoriser les créations théoriques et artéfactuelles; soutenir la formation avancée dans le domaine. Sophie Stévance est l’auteure d’une dizaine de livres, incluant Research-Creation in Music and the Arts: Towards a Collaborative Interdiscipline (Prix de l’IASPM 2018, avec S. Lacasse, 2018), Les enjeux de la recherche-création en musique (avec S. Lacasse, 2013) ou Pour une éthique partagée de la recherche-création (avec S. Lacasse, 2019). Elle a reçu deux prix de l’Académie Charles-Cros (2006, 2010), était finaliste pour le Prix Opus 2014 et 2015, et est récipiendaire de nombreuses subventions de recherche (CRSH, FRQ, FCI). En plus d’analyses musicologiques sur les musiques expérimentales, notamment la pratique contemporaine du chant de gorge par l’artiste inuit Tanya Tagaq, Stévance poursuit des activités de création dans le domaine opératique, de la réalisation phonographique, et des relations entre musique et sport dans le cadre de son projet Hits for HIIT.


Serge Lacasse is Professor of Musicology, specializing in popular music, at the Faculty of Music, Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada. He leads the Laboratoire audionumérique de recherche et de création ( Favouring an interdisciplinary approach, his research and research-creation projects mostly deal with the study and practice of recorded popular music and the singing voice. In addition to multiple chapters, articles and conference papers, he co-authored (with Sophie Stévance) Research-Creation in Music and the Arts: Towards a Collaborative Interdiscipline (Routledge, 2018) and Les enjeux de la recherche-création en musique (PUL, 2013); he also co-edited Quand la musique prend corps (PUM, 2014) with Monique Desroches and Sophie Stévance, as well as Rewriting the Rules of Record Production (Routledge, forthcoming) with Simon Zagorski-Thomas, Katia Isakoff and Sophie Stévance. He is also active as a record producer, musician and songwriter. His Prof. Lacasse project has cumulated close to 1,000,000 streams since 2019.