Surmounting the Skepticism: Developing a Research-Creation Methodology


  • Greg Bruce



research-creation, artistic research, methodology, practice-based research, creative practice


This paper was written to help address the tenuous status of research-creation at the University of Toronto, where I am a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate. There, I devised a “feedback saxophone” system in which I combine the tenor saxophone with various microphones and speakers to encourage and control acoustic feedback. The DMA program at U of T is classified as professional, so the premise of centering my thesis around my feedback saxophone practice was met with some healthy skepticism. This was not because it was viewed as uninteresting, but because creative practice is not typically considered a justifiable form of research in thesis writing.

To therefore bolster research-creation as a legitimate form of scholarly inquiry and to build a model for my own research in music, I aim to answer two questions, insofar as they pertain to my research-creation project: (1) “How is creative practice research?” and (2) “What methods are appropriate for carrying out my creative practice as research?” In answering the first, I draw from the literature to demonstrate how research-creation is a form of knowledge gener- ation that complements conventional modes of investigation. Following this, I examine different categories of research-creation and illustrate them on a music research “compass” to facilitate comparison and understanding. To answer the second question, I discuss two relevant research-creation methodologies and combine them to construct my own “problem-practice-exegesis” approach. I conclude by detailing how I carry out my research using this methodology.

Through this work, I endeavor to provide a practical model for graduate artist-researchers who are interested in integrating their creative practices with thesis writing and to contribute to the validation of research-creation within Canadian graduate music programs and beyond.

Author Biography

Greg Bruce

is a saxophonist searching for new sounds through the forgotten opportunities of analogue technology. His work blends contemporary classical, folk, and minimalist musics; and exposes the sonic potential of acoustic feedback, contact microphones, and tape media. Through a breath-powered instrumentarium – a saxophone augmented by state of the art, lo-tech – Greg seeks to investigate the human/machine dialectic and invoke a post-digital future.

As a freelance musician, Greg is a performer who is equally comfortable playing with street bands, at academic conferences, in bars, or in concert halls; and who has played extensively in Canada, as well as in the US, the UK, France, Italy, and Russia. Greg is also an accomplished bandleader and composer, best known for leading the award-winning “folk-funk-jazz” group, Ouroboros.

Currently, Greg is based in Montreal, Canada, where is completing his thesis as a University of Toronto DMA Candidate and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellow. Greg is also engaged in developing a post-digital creative practice under a Canada Council for the Arts research and creation grant.

Magda Stanová, (A research paper); Magda Stanová, (Visual abstract); Magda Stanová, (Verbal overshadowing 1); Magda Stanová, (Verbal overshadowing 2); Bettina Minder, Pablo Müller, Wheel of tensions illustrating connected concerns and anxieties documented from two PräDoc courses (2020/2021); Greg Bruce, Form sketch of Feedback Saxophone Etude No. 2; Greg Bruce, Music Research “Compass”; Olav Westphalen, 2 cartoons for the Congress of Artistic Research, 2021




How to Cite

Bruce, G. (2023). Surmounting the Skepticism: Developing a Research-Creation Methodology. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (109), 101–123.