Theses Doctoral

Imagining Together: Éliane Radigue's Collaborative Creative Process

Dougherty, William Francis

This dissertation examines Éliane Radigue’s collaborative compositional practice as an alternative model of creation. Using normative Western classical music mythologies as a backdrop, this dissertation interrogates the ways in which Radigue’s creative practice calls into question traditional understandings of creative agency, authorship, reproduction, performance, and the work concept. Based on extensive interviews with the principal performer-collaborators of Radigue’s early instrumental works, this dissertation retraces the networks and processes of creation—from the first stages of the initiation process to the transmission of the fully formed composition to other instrumentalists. In doing so, I aim to investigate the ways in which Radigue’s unique working method resists capitalist models of commodification and reconfigures the traditional hierarchical relationship between composer, score, and performer.

Chapter 1 traces Radigue’s early experiences with collaboration and collective creativity in the male-dominated early electronic music studios of France in the 1950s and 60s. Chapter 2 focuses on the initiation process behind new compositions. Divided into two parts, the first part describes the normative classical music-commissioning model (NCMCM) using contemporary guides for composers and commissioners and my own experiences as an American composer of concert music. The second part examines Radigue’s performer-based commissioning model and illuminates how this initiation process resists power structures of the NCMCM.

Chapter 3, which is centered on the role of the composer, score, and performer, is divided into three parts. The first details the relationship between composer, score, and performer in the mythologies of nineteenth-century Western classical music. I again draw from both primary sources and my own personal experiences as a composer to explore these normative frameworks. The second details the procedures of Éliane Radigue’s creative process in her earliest collaborative instrumental compositions (Elemental II, Naldjorlak I, and OCCAM I for solo harp) and the Occam Ocean series as a whole. Using these as a point of departure, the third part explores the role of the composer, score, and performer in Radigue’s collaborative process, examining the ways in which these roles are reconfigured to create new, more equitable relationships between creative actors.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Haas, Georg Friedrich
D.M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 19, 2021